Software Spotlight: Windows 1.x for non-IBM PC platforms

edited February 2015 in Software Spotlights
I've gone ahead and added Windows 1.x for two distinctly non IBM PC compatible platforms.

These are for the DEC Rainbow 100 and The Zenith Z-100 (110/120).

Do not confuse the regular Zenith OEM with the Zenith Z-100 version. The regular Zenith OEM is for their later IBM PC compatibles.

The DEC Rainbow was primarily popular in shops that already made use of other Digital Equipment Corporation systems, such as PDP or VAX systems. Z-100s were popular in electronics education as they could come in kit form.

Neither of these share anything in common with the IBM PC other than the use of an x86 CPU. The Rainbow even uses a different kind of floppy drive. Both have "ports" of MS-DOS that only runs on the respective hardware.

Similarly, these versions of Windows will not run on an IBM PC style system.

The fascinating thing about this is that theoretically, Windows on these non-PC systems should be able to run any Windows 1.x specific software.

And this was probably among the last major software avaialble for such 8088/8086 non-pc compatibles. By 1986 the industry was pushing towards full IBM PC compatibility, soon aided by cheap Taiwanese clones.

It is interesting to speculate what might have happened if at least business application had been able to adopt Microsoft Windows earlier. Perhaps lack of hardware compatiblity would have been less of an issue.

I've decided to spotlight these versions partially because they both desperately need a full redump, and it is not clear if these are functional. Additionally, the DEC Rainbow version looks like a bit of a mish-mash, but it was reportedly built by DEC, not Microsoft. It is not even clear if the DEC Rainbow version was shipped as a boxed product.

Any testing on real hardware would be most valuable. As far as I know there are no fully functional emulators for either of these platforms.

If better versions should become available we will happily update them.


  • Stumbled across another copy of Windows 1.03 for DEC Rainbow and added it to the 1.03 page:

    It is beginning to look like the DEC Rainbow version was something that had been in development but not commercially released.

    From an included text file:

    DEC Windows User Notes August 1988

    Here it is... "WINDOWS" for the Rainbow!!! The drivers used to adapt
    Windows 1.03.04 to the Rainbow were written as part of an unfinished project
    at DEC, and include a lot of personal hours of work by dedicated people.
    Windows was never licensed by DEC from Microsoft. In the pervious versions
    of these user notes, I admonished people who used this software
    to go out and support Microsoft by buying a real copy of Windows version 1.xx

    This is a problem now tho', because Version 1.xx (for the IBM) is no longer
    available. Oh well... (NOTE: Do NOT get the IBM Ver. 2.xx or Windows/386. They
    will not work. However, there is a report from CANADA that a user-written alphab
    version of Windows 2.0 for the Rainbow is up and running and that Suitable
    Solutions is interested...and has tested ver. 1.03.04 on their '286 board for
    the Rainbow. Rainbow owners are blessed with good fortune.

    If you do find a copy of Windows 1.xx for the IBM, all the programs which
    come with it, such as Write, Paint, Clipboard, Calendar, Calculator, etc.
    will also work with the DEC version of Windows. I originally reported in
    an earlier version of these user notes that I could not get the SPOOLER or
    the RAMDRIVE programs to work. I since have discovered that they do in fact
    work. I guess the problem was operator error. There are still two problems...

    You need to rename CLOCK.EXE to something else (like MSCLOCK.EXE for
    instance) before moving it to the Rainbow because CLOCK is a reserved DEVICE
    name like PRN, CON, and AUX. (This is cured, however, if you have the latest
    and greatest version of DOS 3.10 -- with the hidden files dated 6/88 or later.

    Also I have never gotten the TERMINAL.EXE program to work either. A VT220
    emulator was originally planned for Windows on the DEC. That is why there is
    a terminal font available. However, it was never finished. Supposedly,
    the terminal program just goes through the COMM driver of Windows...
    so it should work as long as the COMM driver is working......

    INAVISION, a CAD program, the Windows Graph Demo, and OWL's "Guide" all
    work for sure under the DEC version of should any program written
    to run under version 1.xx of the IBM version of Windows. Reportedly, the
    first version of Pagemaker will work also. Windows on a Rainbow, tho', is the
    same speed as Windows on an IBM-XT (i.e. not bad to horrible depending on the
    program). By the way, to run OWL's "Guide" do NOT load the DEC terminal font
    in your WIN.INI file.

    You need a graphics board, at least 320k of RAM, and DOS 3.10 to run
    WINDOWS. If you run Windows on a DEC color monitor you only get two colors,
    blue and white. The resolution of Windows is an incredible 800 x 200 pixels,
    it just knocks your socks off!! You can now buy a proper, legal, working, and
    supported version of DOS 3.10 for the Rainbow from Suitable Solutions for
    around $95.!

    Two mouse drivers were written for the DEC version of Windows.
    The first, and most forgetable, driver was for the Logitech R-7 mouse (with
    its own power supply and which plugged into the printer port) does not work.
    However, a Microsoft employee -- and Rainbow devotee -- has written an elegant
    driver for the SERIAL version of the Microsoft Mouse (which plugs into the
    communications port of the Rainbow). It works like a champ!!! (And so,
    presumably, should a hardware compatible Microsoft mouse clone...but, to date,
    I have only tried Windows using real Microsoft mice--e.g. green,grey, or white

    The Microsoft mouse driver is smart enough that if you do not have a mouse
    attached, it simply starts up expecting you to use the keyboard commands
    instead of the mouse. Very user friendly! This runtime version of DEC Windows
    is installed for the Microsoft mouse. I have hooked up an A-B switch to my own
    communications port so I can share it with both my mouse and my modem.

    The printer driver for the LA50 is included (i.e. LA50.DRV) and the
    WIN.INI file is set up to use it. Check the baud rate, bits, and parity
    (under [PORTS]) to assure that they match your printer's settings. This should
    work with the LA100 and LA75 also. It works in Windows WRITE.EXE and
    Windows PAINT.EXE just fine...fonts and everything. Although WRITE and PAINT
    were not distributed with earlier disks of DEC Windows (because they were still
    products on the market) WRITE and PAINT are now included here because you cannot
    buy them for Windows Version 1.xx, except at a flea market.

    (Note for laser printer fans...the Apple LaserWriter and HP LaserJet drivers
    will also work just fine with DEC Windows, if you have access to one of these
    marvelous printers and the appropriate drivers from an IBM version of Windows.

    The files included on this first of three disks are:

    WINDOW1.ARC (everything you need, including Microsoft mouse and LA50 drivers)
    WIN.COM Start up program.
    WIN.INI Adaptable Windows Initialization file.
    WIN100.BIN File containing applicable drivers.
    WIN100.OVL Overlay file for Windows start up program.
    WINOLDAP.GRB Display driver file.
    WINOLDAP.MOD Another display driver file.
    LA50.DRV LA-50 Printer Driver
    TMSRA.FON Fonts for Windows WRITE and PAINT.
    USERNOTE.1 User Notes, August 1988 (This file).

    ***************************** BASIC WINDOWS KEYBOARD COMMANDS ***********
    Alt-Spacebar selects the top left corner pull-down menu.
    Up/Down Arrow moves on the menu and the
    RETURN key selects the item.
    Alt-Tab selects a different window or icon.
    Alt-and the first letter of the choice on the top menu bar in any application
    selects that pull-down menu.
    Tab will move you around inside a DIALOG box to get to the OK.
    Spacebar will select OK from inside a DIALOG box. You can tell which
    selection you are on buy looking at where the blinking cursor is.
    Shift-Left Button does multiple file selects with a mouse.

  • There are images show Interface Manager aka Windows 1.0 Byte Magazine Build running on Non PC Compatibles Computer in 1983. There is a RM Nimbus PC-186 version of Windows 1.0 Beta. Also Tandy 2000 Pre-Release version of Windows 1.0 in 1984 had color before Windows 1.0 Beta.

  • I've also just added the HP 150 adaption of Windows 1.03:

    Like the DEC Rainbow, or Z-100 the HP 150 is in no way IBM PC hardware compatible other than having an 8088 CPU.

    That has been on the HP museum site for a while now, so has been low priority. But what I had not really realized is that is can make use the HP 150's finger grease interface - i mean - touch screen interface. Dumb kids still think touch screens are new somehow.

    There is a video demonstrating this on youtube:

  • So little original thought went into Windows 8's interface, down to it being touchscreen-oriented. Not only that, Windows 8 also received a high-profile release for a non-x86 compatible platform (not counting earlier NT releases).

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