Dumb users and Bill ‘Shake’ Speare: The jokes Microsoft’s first programmers hid in its MS-DOS software revealed


  • Microsoft has made the source code of MS-DOS and Word for Windows available for the first time
  • MS-DOS was launched in 1981 for IBMs first personal computers
  • Code includes jokes left by programmers never before seen


Microsoft has made the computer code behind behind its first operating system, MS-DOS, available for free – and revealed programmers included jokes in their code.

Launched in 1982, MS-DOS, the  ‘Disk Operating System’ was Microsoft’s first commercial operating system.

It has now released to code the The Computer History Museum (CHM) – prompting users to comb it for jokes left by the firm’s programmers.


The gags include references to programmers being ‘gods’, comments calling users ‘dumb’; and references to Bill ‘shake’ speare – along wiht liberal use of the word f**k.

They were found by internet user Leon Zandman, who posted them to his Twitter account.

The code was given to the Computer History Museum (CHM) in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley.

It announced that it has, with permission from Microsoft Corporation, made available original source code for two historic programs: MS-DOS, the 1982 ‘Disk Operating System’ for IBM-compatible personal computers, and Word for Windows, the 1990 Windows-based version of their word processor.


‘Version 1.1 fits an entire operating system – limited as it was – into only 12K bytes of memory, which is tiny compared to today’s software,’ said Len Shustek, CHM Chairman.

‘We think preserving historic source code like these two programs is key to understanding how software has evolved from primitive roots to become a crucial part of our civilization.’

‘MS-DOS and Word for Windows built the foundation for Microsoft’s success in the technology industry,” said Roy Levin, distinguished engineer and managing director, Microsoft Research.

‘By contributing these source codes to the Computer History Museum archives, Microsoft is making these historic systems from the early era of personal computing available to the community for historical and technical scholarship.’

IBM went outside the company for many hardware and software components of their 1981 personal computer.

Though most vendors were kept in the dark about the project, code-named “Chess,” IBM developed a unique relationship between their Boca Raton-based team and Microsoft, then a small company based in Seattle.


Microsoft, which was providing the BASIC language interpreter, agreed to also supply an operating system.

Without their own operating system already in place, they licensed a product from nearby Seattle Computer Products and worked closely with IBM to make the changes they wanted.

It shipped as “PC-DOS” for IBM and “MS-DOS” for other PC manufacturers.

We are today releasing the source code of MS-DOS version 1.1 from 1982, and of version 2.0 from 1983.

Microsoft’s DOS-based version of Word, first released in 1983, was not a success against the dominant word processor of that era, WordPerfect.

The 1989 release of Word for Windows changed all that: within four years it was generating over half the worldwide word processing market revenue.

It was a remarkable marketing and engineering achievement. We are today revealing the technical magic by releasing the source code to version 1.1a of Word for Windows.





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