Here are short descriptions of the various Disk Operating Systems (DOS)
versions produced by Atari for use with their 8-bit computers.
In 1978 Atari contracted with Shepardson Microsystems, Inc. (SMI) to create a
File Management System (FMS) (along with a version of BASIC) for the upcoming
Atari personal computers. The following worked together on the project, which
resulted in the original Atari DOS (along with Atari BASIC):
Paul Laughton (author of Apple DOS) - project leader, co-primary contributor
Kathleen O’Brien - co-primary contributor
Bill Wilkinson - floating point scheme design
Paul Krasno - implemented the math library routines following guidelines
supplied by Fred Ruckdeschel (author of the acclaimed text,
BASIC Scientific Subroutines)
Bob Shepardson - Modified IMP-16 Assembler to accept special syntax tables
Mike Peters - keypuncher/computer operator/junior programmer/troubleshooter
The original Atari DOS shipped with 810 disk drives until 1981. It consists
of a single file, DOS.SYS, which is loaded into memory from disk on startup.
At the top of the menu screen it reads:
DISK OPERATING SYSTEM 9/24/79
COPYRIGHT 1979 ATARI
With the planned release of DOS II in 1981, Atari referred to this first
release of DOS as DOS I. Nearly all users quickly abandoned DOS I in favor of
Trivia: The DOS I "N. DEFINE DEVICE" menu option does not work.
Also, DOS I is not compatible with the 850 Interface Module.
The Atari DOS I disk is labeled: Atari 810 Master Diskette (CX8101).
DOS II Version 2.0S was shipped with 810 disk drives, and early 1050 disk
drives, from 1981-1983. It consists of two files:
- DOS.SYS is loaded into memory from disk on startup
- DUP.SYS, which contains the DOS menu, is loaded only when needed.
MEM.SAV can be employed to preserve the contents of memory to disk when
DUP.SYS is loaded, so that the data can be restored to memory when exiting
from the DOS menu. DOS 2.0S supports Atari’s proprietary single-sided, single
density 90K 5.25" floppy disk format only. DOS 2.0S represents the lowest
common denominator of Atari DOS versions--you can be assured than any Atari
disk drive for the 8-bit Atari can work with disks formatted with DOS 2.0S.
DOS 2.0S can read disks written with DOS I; the reverse is not the case. The
DOS 2.0S disk is labeled: Atari 810 Master Diskette II (CX8104).
DOS 2.0S was delivered by Optimized Systems Software (OSS), headed by Bill
Wilkinson, for Atari.
DOS 2.0S consists of four separate elements:
1. DUP - Disk Utility Package
2. CIO - Central Input/Output
3. FMS - File Management System
4. SIO - Serial Input/Output
DOS II Version 2.0D was shipped with the rare Atari 815 Dual Disk Drive.
Supports double-density disk drives; also supports single-density disk drives.
The DOS 2.0D disk is labeled: Atari 815 Master Diskette (CX8201).
For much more about DOS II see Inside Atari DOS by Bill Wilkinson (1982),
online at http://www.atariarchives.org/iad/ .
DOS 3 shipped with 1050 disk drives from 1983-1985. It was created in part to
take advantage of the 1050’s Dual-Density capability, by employing a single-
sided, enhanced-density 130K 5.25" floppy disk drive format. Atari called
this format "dual-density," but the Atari community quickly came to refer to
this format as "enhanced-density" to better differentiate it from widely
available 3rd-party truly double density disk drives and supporting versions
of DOS. DOS 3 uses a disk format incompatible with DOS 2.0S. It included a
utility to convert files from DOS 2.0S to DOS 3, but not back again. It used
disk space less efficiently than DOS 2.0S. For these reasons and others, DOS
3 was not widely accepted by the Atari community, and like DOS I is not
generally used except for curiosity’s sake. The DOS 3 disk is labeled: Master
Diskette 3 (DX5052).
DOS II Version 2.5 shipped with 1050 disk drives and early XF551 disk drives
from 1985-1988. DOS 2.5 represented Atari’s relenting to the masses,
returning to DOS 2.0S compatability. DOS 2.5 very closely resembles DOS 2.0S,
with just a few features added. It supports both DOS 2.0S single-density 90K
formats, as well as an enhanced density 130K format for use with the 1050 disk
drive. DOS 2.5 also includes a RAMdisk utility for use with the 128K 130XE
computer, a utility to convert files from DOS 3 disks back to DOS 2.5, and
other disk utilities. DOS 2.5 is just about as universal among Atari users as
DOS 2.0S. The DOS 2.5 disk is labeled simply: DOS 2.5 (DX5075).
DOS XE shipped with XF551 disk drives after 1988. Like DOS 3, DOS XE
introduced a whole new format for Atari floppy disks; but unlike DOS 3, DOS XE
also preserved general compatability with DOS 2.0S/2.5. DOS XE supports the
full capabilities of the double-sided, double density 360K per 5.25" floppy
disk XF551 disk drive, including that drive’s high-speed burst mode. DOS XE
also fully supports the 90K SS/SD capability of the 810 disk drive, the 130K
SS/ED capability of the 1050 disk drive, the 180K SS/DD capability of most
3rd-party disk drives for the Atari, and a RAMdisk for use with the 130XE.
Date-stamping of files is supported. DOS XE requires an XL or XE computer; it
is not compatable with the 400/800 computer models. Even though DOS XE was
critically well-received, and represented a substantial jump in capabilities
over DOS 2.5, its arrival came so late in the crouded realm of Atari and 3rd-
party DOS versions that it never achieved much acceptance among real users,
and is now relegated to the same status as DOS I and DOS 3 before it. Before
its release, DOS XE was widely known as "ADOS." It was developed by Bill
Wilkinson for Atari. The DOS XE disk is labeled: DOS XE Master Diskette