A) Skim the text to understand what it is about, lime your reading. It is good if you can read it for nine minutes (110 words per minute).


What is MS-DOS

The Microsoft MS-DOS operating, system is like a translator between you and your computer. The programs in this operating system allow you communicate with your computer, your disk drives and your printer, letting you use these resources to your advantage

MS-DOS also helps you to manage programs and data. Once you have loaded MS-DOS into your computer's memory, you can compose letters and reports, run programs and languages such as Microsoft GW-BASIC, and use devices such as printers and disk drives.

Terms You Should Know

When you are introduced to a new or different idea, you must often learn a new set of words to understand the idea. The MS-DOS operating system is no exception. The following pages explain some terms you will need to know so that you can read and use the manuals.


Programs, often called application programs, applications, or software are series of instructions written in computer languages. These instructions are stored m files and tell your computer to perform a task. For example, a program might tell your computer to alphabetically sort a list of names. Spreadsheets and word processors are other examples of programs.


A file is a collection of related information, like the contents of a file folder in a desk drawer. File folders, for instance, might contain business letters, office memos, or monthly sales data. Files on your disks could also contain letters, memos, or data. For example, your MS-DOS master disk contains more than thirty files. Your other disks may contain files that you've created, or that came with the disk.


Just as each folder in a file cabinet has a label, each file on a disk has a name. This name has two parts: a filename and an extension. A filename can be from one to eight characters in length, and can be typed in uppercase or lowercase letters. MS-DOS automatically converts filenames to uppercase letters.

Filename extensions consist of a period followed by one, two, or three characters. Extensions are optional, but it's good idea to use them, since they are useful for describing the contents of a file to you and to MS-DOS. For instance, if you want to be able to quickly identify your report files, you can add the filename extension rpt to each one. Here's an example of a filename with this extension:

progress .rpt


Filename filename extension Directory

A directory is a table of contents for a disk. It contains the names of your files, their sizes, and the dates they were last modified.

Volume Label

When you use a new disk, you can put a label on the outside of it to help you identify its contents. You can also give each of your disks an internal name, called a volume label.

You can look at the volume label on a disk by displaying its directory. Some programs may look at the volume label to see if you are using the correct disk. So make sure that you label your disks.

Disk Drive

To use the files or programs that are on a floppy disk, you must first insert the disk into a floppy disk drive. Floppy disk drives are commonly referred to as the A drive and the В drive. A hard disk drive, normally installed inside your computer, is usually referred to as the С drive.

Drive Name ,

A complete drive name consists of a drive letter and a colon. When using a command, you may need to type a drive name before your filename to tell MS-DOS where to find the disk that contains your file. For example, suppose you have a file named finances.doc on the disk in drive B. To tell MS-DOS where to find this file you would type the drive name before the filename:

b: finances.doc

drive name filename with extension Command

Just as you will run programs to create and update files containing your data, you will also need to run some special programs, called MS-DOS commands, that let you work with entire files.

When you type MS-DOS commands, you are asking the computer to perform tasks. For example, when you use the diskcopy command to copy your MS-DOS master disk, you are using a file named diskcopy.exe, whose task is to copy the files on the MS-DOS disk.

Error messages

If you or your computer makes a mistake when using a device or MS- DOS command, MS-DOS displays an appropriate error message. Error messages apply to general errors (such as misspelling a command) or to device errors (such as trying to use a printer that is out of paper). For a complete list and explanation of each MS-DOS error message (device and general), see the MS-DOS User's Reference, Appendix F.


Memory is the place in your computer where information is actively used. When you run a program, MS-DOS stores that program and the files

it uses in the computer's available memory. Some programs and files use more memory than others, depending on how large and complex they are.


Whenever you use your computer, you. supply the information (input) and expect a result (output). Your computer uses pieces of hardware called devices to receive input and send output.

For example, when you type a command, your computer receives input from your keyboard and disk drive, and usually sends output to your screen. It can also receive input from a mouse, or send output to a printer. Some devices, such as disk drives, perform both input and output.

Device Names

Device names are special names given to each device that your computer "knows" about. An example of a device name is LPT1, which stands for the first parallel lineprinter connected to your computer.

When you add a new device, such as a mouse, to your computer, you sometimes need to tell MS-DOS about it by setting up (configuring) your computer for that device.

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