Information Technology

New Life for Old Software

Since I’ve had some down time, I decided to work on an annoying matter. I have probably blogged before that I have some older expense files written with a C/Pascal code generator called DataBoss which had its own proprietary file system. These files are well past the window for IRS audit as I converted to another expense tracking application more than a decade ago. Still, the geek in me wanted that data in my new database because I had it. I wasn’t going to get rid of my last Windows partition until I got that data imported into my new PostgreSQL database.

Naturally, I tossed out the floppies which had DataBoss on them long ago. I think they might have been 5.25 anyway, so I was probably screwed no matter what. I poked around on-line and found some interesting sites.

Believe it or not, this site has a lot of old software. Original disks and manuals for sale. They even claim to buy/trade it.

Quite possibly one of the best ideas to ever hit the Web. Oddly enough, if the stuff was still being sold by the original vendor, this might be considered a piracy site. Today, it’s a Godsend. There is now a place where all of this great old software can be stored and retrieved for those times when it becomes relevant again. This is especially important in situations where the vendor has gone out of business. If you are as long in the tooth as I am, it is a trip down memory lane. Oh how I wished I still had some of that old DOS software I used to use to send to them.

Remember the Pro-C code generator? (not the Pro*C tool put out by Oracle) I wrote a lot of stuff with that under DOS…tossed it out long ago. The company dropped off the face of the earth. Sadly, now that we have Qt and Gtk on Linux, an OpenSource version of it using both of these underlying libs for the interface and PostgreSQL or another OpenSource database for file storage would probably get a large following. It was a 60-80% solution product like most code generators. I don’t even remember who made the product. I do remember the manual actually came in a binder and without that manual you couldn’t do much. Sigh…

Why would I be interested in such a piece of software now? OpenSuSE has two DOS emulators now. One is DOSbox, which once installed, appears on the KDE menu. It is set up mostly for running games. You cannot access anything which isn’t mounted out in your Linux environment. Another is dosemu. This seems pretty cool. It is an implementation of freeDOS which seems quite robust. There are some adjustments, such as you have to use xcopy instead of copy *.* if you want to copy more than one file. If I have free time over the next few months, I think I will try getting the old versions of “Lords of the Realm” and “Warcraft” running. I actually liked the older versions of these games. Don’t really care for the last version of Warcraft I bought. The old DOS version with cheesy graphics I really liked though.

Of course, once I managed to re-obtain a copy of DataBoss, I found out the utility programs weren’t all ready to run executables. That meant I needed to find a compiler. You guessed it. I tossed out Borland C 3.1 a long time ago. Other than DataBoss and one client, I never used it. I used Zortech for a lot of years, MS when I was forced to, and Watcom when I started my cross platform days. Love of Watcom lasted over a decade. There is even an OpenWatcom project now:

Sadly, DataBoss didn’t live long enough to support Watcom. I did force Pro-C to support it at one point.

Not a problem though. I found another beautiful site.

A link on this page takes you to the place where Borland is handing out Turbo C and Turbo Pascal gratis.

Once you get a floppy drive functioning, you can see things like this:

Of course, getting a floppy drive working is another blog entirely.

You know…I might even dig through my old floppies and install Vedit again. I used to like the DOS version of that editor…it really blew after it went to Windows.