We all know what the Blue Screen of Death is, but have you heard about the Black Screen of Death?

In early versions of Windows, sometimes a DOS-based program didn’t execute properly, leaving a blank screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left corner. This would require a hard boot. In newer versions of Windows, the Black Screen of Death can happen when there’s video card driver issues (which I’m very familiar with!) or missing system files.

It can also happen in OS/2, an old operating system which nobody really uses anymore, and game consoles.

Interesting coincidence (or not?) — except for the Nintendo Wii and DS, the black screen of death exclusively happens on Microsoft products.

Command-line vs. GUIs

Here’s a simple guide for people who aren’t sure what these mean. 😉 The bold text links to Wikipedia, if you’re curious.

Command-line is generally text-only — you type in your commands. For people who know these commands, it can sometimes be faster to use the command-line for some things.

GUI, or Graphical User Interface, is what most programs are today. It has the advantage that you don’t need to know the commands ahead of time — you can dive in.
For a concrete example, MS-DOS is command-line, while MS Windows is a GUI.

Where’s the B drive?

I was recently showing someone how to check the space on her hard drive and she asked why is there an A drive and a C drive, but no B drive?

The reason for that, according to Ask Yahoo!, (and my own knowledge) is that on early computers (Yahoo! says MS-DOS operating system, although that’s not the only one), there were two floppy drives, therefore A and B. Hard drives were a luxury (although some computers ran on magnetic tape — yes, by that I mean cassettes!).

So you would boot up the computer from the A drive (like you can do nowadays if your system is corrupted), and use the other floppy drive, the B drive, for software. Then, when hard drives became more widely used, they created the C drive to prevent confusion.

And finally, they dropped the second floppy drive, the B drive. Some of today’s computers don’t even have a floppy drive! Mine doesn’t, although the A drive is still there.

So, there’s your answer. If you’re interested in this stuff, check out this Microsoft Support article.

Have an old PC? Here is a site for you!

Hard to believe nowadays, some people do use old computers — Windows 3.1 and DOS, for example. If you’re one of those people, here is a site for you. Even if you’re not, take a peek.

Download Railroad Tycoon for free!

Some of you may remember Railroad Tycoon — an old DOS game released in 1990, which launched the “tycoon” genre.

Well, you can download it for free. Simply go to the Sid Meier’s Railroads website, go under “Downloads,” and it’s in there.

It comes preloaded with DOSBox, so you don’t have to install anything extra.

Have fun!

How To Install Windows 3.1 on DOSBox

If you have DOSBox, (open-source DOS emulator) and a copy of Windows 3.1 lying around, why not install it?

I’ve done it!

Windows 3.1 in DOSBox

Windows 3.1 in DOSBox

Anyways, if you’re interested in this, here’s the instructions. You’ll need to supply your own copy of Windows 3.1, however. 😉