How to install Windows 1.0 on a modern PC

Windows 1.0 was released in the fall of 1985. Due to the retro-compatibility of the x86 architecture, it can also be installed on a state-of-the-art system. The newest configuration I ran Windows 1.0 in real mode is a Ryzen 3900x , on a motherboard with X470 chipset, 32GB DDR4 @ 3200 RAM and an RTX 2070 Super video card.

According to Microsoft, Windows 1.0 requires a minimum of 256 KB of RAM, two floppy disk drives and a video card. For running more programs, however, it is recommended to install on your hard drive and 512 KB of RAM. Requires DOS 3.0 or higher.

Going back to the mid-80s, Windows 1.0 made a so-so impression and that’s about it, it wasn’t taken very seriously, as evidenced by not many programs and games developed for Windows 1.x and 2.x. The main advantage of Windows 1, namely the possibility of using a mouse, was in a period when ordinary PCs were not generally equipped with a mouse. Windows 3.x is at a completely different level and is really a system with which you can do interesting things, especially since you have Office, Photoshop, Premiere and hundreds of other titles available. With Windows 3.11 you can connect to the Internet using TCP / IP. Not surprisingly, despite its limitations, Microsoft effectively withdrew Windows 3.11 from the market in 2008 .

To be or not to be… an operating system

Because Windows 1.0 seems to be more of a graphical interface for MS-DOS, the question has arisen as to whether it is really an operating system. We must keep in mind that Windows 1.0 works with its own hardware drivers, which is far above the level of a simple graphical interface.

Drivers built into Windows 1.01
Among the above drivers we can also see HPLASER.DRV for HP LaserJet printers introduced in 1984.

Stanger Things

Due to the mega-popularity of the Stranger Things series , which pays homage to the ’80s, and which last season reached the era of Windows 1.0, Microsoft did a little advertising last year. Season 4, which takes place in 1986, when the Chernobyl event also takes place, and which integrates perfectly into the story of Stranger Things.

Where do we get Windows 1.0?

Obviously not from Microsoft. Not anymore. For retro operating systems there is only one reference site, and this is called . In case winworld fails, I will put a download link at the end of the article.

Once we get to the download page, we should also download Windows 2.0 because we need the mouse driver, respectively the mouse.drv file. Windows 1.0 will not work with our mouse on PS / 2. (In 1985 the standard was not even invented).

I don’t have a floppy drive anymore, what do I do?

No problem, no one has. After downloading the installation kit – which is a .7z file of 528KB – we will use 7zip to extract the installation kit.

Our files are contained in 5 disk images. To make things extremely simple, 7zip lets us extract all the files from the floppy disk images in one place, using the Extract Here command .

After selecting all 5 disk images and using the Extract Here command , we will have in the same folder the 155 files needed for installation. Microsoft uses unique names for each file, the only one we will be asked to confirm overwriting is the readme.txt file. We can rewrite it without any worries.

Back to DOS

Because Windows 1.0 is more of a DOS extension and less of an operating system per se , since we have copied the instalation files on a bootable DOS partition, we are good to go. Windows 1.0. uses a text interface for installation and we have to express our options using numbers or letters: C to C ontinue, Q to Q uit, Y for Y es and N for N o etc.

Substitute command

To get to the wonderful screens above, we can’t run setup.exe if it’s in a folder with the letter C: (at least not on the first try). Let’s not forget: it’s 1985, and Microsoft is expecting us to start installation using the floppy drive, which is A:

So we are in a small stalemate, because a FAT 16 DOS partition will receive the letter C: when we boot from it. Fortunately, starting with DOS 5, there is the external command subst (external: because requires the subst.exe file) through which we can assign a drive letter to a folder, including the letter A. The syntax is as follows:

subst [<Drive1>: [<Drive2>:]<Path>] 

subst A: C: \ kit

After using the above command, the C: \ kit folder will be given as drive A: and when we write setup.exe everything goes according to plan, as evidenced by the screen above which we are notified that the installation is complete. (We assume that the files just extracted are in the „kit” folder.)

For this command to work, just copy the subst.exe file to C: \ if we don’t have a full DOS installation, which includes all the utilities.)

Let’s also set the DOS version with setver

Setver.exe, like subst.exe, is also part of the DOS 5 „Tricks task force” (and the following). Setver will make a program – which needs a specific version of DOS – believe that the current version of DOS is exactly what it needs. To get this trick we copy setver.exe to C: and add the following line in config.sys:


Windows 1.0 will believe that it is using DOS 3.34 and will finally start.

The drive with Windows 1.0 accessed from Windows 10. In the Windows folder we have, of course, the operating system. We have subst.exe and setver.exe on C: \. We also have the Win1 folder from which we ran setup.exe. We also have to edit config.sys, although we can do just as well from Windows 10

It didn’t start? It’s time for VGASETUP.EXE!

Same here. In my case, the problem was with the RTX 2070 Super video card that did not want to start in EGA mode which is implemented in the EGAHIRES.DRV driver, respectively the best display mode to pick in 1985. Although RTX is compatible with the VGA standard ( introduced in 1987) and implicitly with the previous EGA standard – simply it didn t want to work. The solution comes with the installation of a 640 × 480 VGA driver and running VGASETUP.EXE – the file that this utility creates.

Click on the image to download the driver.

To use this driver we must resume the installation process and copy WIN1VGA.EXE to the installation folder, it will patch some files and create a VGASETUP. EXE from which we will start the installation and we will be able to select as VGA video mode.

Victory! We have Windows 1.0 running at full speed!

Installation kit

How about we have all the Windows 1.0 installation files already unzipped in one folder including the mouse driver + the VGA driver already installed (we start the installation on vgasetup.exe) + subst.exe and setver.exe in one 554 KB archive?

What is SPDIF?

SPDIF audio is a digital transmission protocol developed in the 80’s and is based on the standard AES/EBU protocol used in the professional field. If at the protocol level things remained almost unchanged, Sony and Philips transformed  the more expensive professional protocol into a commercial one, this was done by changing the connectors (plugs/wiring) and some hardware specs.

 AES / EBU, S / PDIF (IEC-958)

 Cabling shileded TP 110 ohm 75 ohm coaxial or fiber
 Connector 3-pin XLR RCA, Toslink (or BNC)
 Signal level 3 .. 0.5 .. 1V 10V
 Modulation biphase-mark-code biphase-mark-code
 Max.  Resolution 24 bits 20 bits (24 bit option)

Being developed by Sony in collaboration with Philips the name is no surprise:  Sony / Philips Digital Interconnect Format, hence the acronym SPDIF. (Or, in another version – Sony Philips Digital InterFace)

And if it’s in digital format it helps me?

Audio information stored in our computer or in a CD/DVD  is natively in digital format – and to be used with our speakers have to be transformed into analog electrical signals. This conversion is done by a dedicated hardware chip named: Digital C-to-Analog converter. Conversion scales performance varies depending on the price paid on the hardware. A high-performance DAC provides minimum distortion sound and a value of SNR (Signal to noise ratio) very good.

Digital transmission of sound eliminates digital-to-analog conversion and is noiseless, ie without background noise. So, using a SPDIF connection the sound quality is directly influenced by the receiver’s specifications and audio precincts.

DAC – AKM4396VF fitted sheets Azuzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1 ( see specifications )

Digital - analog converter (DAC)


SPDIF connections are made either through an optical cable (standardized by Toshiba, hence called Toslink) or through a coaxial cable (75 ohm).

TOSLINK optical and coaxial SPDIF cable

Coaxial or Optical?

Although optical connection is generally seen as a superior, in reality there is no difference in the sound quality. Coaxial or optical, it is absolutely the same SPDIF signal, bit by bit identical to the one that is carried on a coaxial connection. One advantage of the optical fiber is that there is no practical limitations concerning the length of the cable. Coaxial connection is limited to a maximum of 10m. Another advantage is that the optical connection is immune to any electrical interference.


Motherboards with SPDIF support (first one were equipped with codec C-Media ® CMI-8738), were almost common in the late 2000’s. Otherwise, SPDIF  was already present in some much pretentious hardware as: Creative Sound Blaster AWE64 (1996), AurealVorex II( 1998) or Creative Sound Blaster Live!(1997).
Meanwhile SPDIF connection has become almost standard among base plate segments among middle and standard sound card.

Optical and coaxial SPDIF on the motherboard

And most laptops made in recent years have SPDIF output. But since SPDIF output is shared with ordinary analog and many users are not aware of its presence. Today SPDIF signal is carried out via a HDMI connection.

Laptop SPDIF

To get a connection via SPDIF output  we need a 3.5mm adapter – RCA, or an RCA jack cable for coaxial transmission.

Whether a mini-plug (3.5mm) – TOSLINK optical connection if. (Or if you already have a TOSLINK cable can buy an adapter that converts one end to form mini-plug)

Toslink mini-plug


SPDIF, Windows, and home theater your home 

With a SPDIF connection we get stereo sound in PCM (uncompressed) or 48kHz maximum compressed sound in Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC-3) or DTS 48kHz with a maximum up to 640kbs bitrate.

Since multi-channel sound format Doby Digital / DTS is present  mostly only in movies, for whatever remains, over the SPDIF connection will get just two channel Stereo sound. This problem has been solved by creating Dolby Digital Live, a techonology which allows real-time creation of an AC3 stream, and this is a good way to have 5.1 sound when playing games.

What is a receiver?

When it comes to SPDIF, a receiver is any hardware that supports this protocol. In terms of audio SPDIF compatibilty, the most popular are home theater receivers. Prices can get very far by fidelity and embedded technologies. The newest receivers are compatible with high definition sound bit/96Khz 24 or 192kHz, and tipically will receive SPDIF signals over a HDMI connection.

Once a SPDIF stream will be detected by the receiver the display will show the corresponding logo:

Dolby Digital and DTS display

Receiver Dolby Digital compatible

Another category of receivers are 5.1/6.1/7.1 systems with digital input. The best example of this is the model of the Logitech Z5500.

Logitech Z5500 featuring Dolby Digital Coaxial Optical Inputs


Von Neumann computer

von neumann

John Von Neumann has never built a computer. Neumann, a Hungarian-american mathematician, has designed a computer from a mathematical point of view. His work led to the design of digital computers from the ’50s.

Today’s computers operate in principle digital computer model envisioned in the ’40s by mathematician John von Neumann. In Neumann’s vision memory was one of the five main parts of a digital computer:

  • an input device responsible for entering data into the computer (such as a keyboard)
  • a memory for storing data and programs
  • arithmetic unit for performing calculations
    a control unit which carry out instructions and data transfer between memory and arithmetic unit
  • an output device (eg monitor)


What is firmware?

Firmware is the basic software embedded in a hardware device.

Firmware – essential software routines contained in ROM memory  of a hardware device. Firmware is always responsible for basic operations, such as starting or input / output.

We can say, without fail, that any electronic device  needs firmware to operate. Firmware range from a reduced set of instructions in simple devices such as electronic alarm from the car, to more complex instructions in the case of sophisticated equipment such as smart tvs, video players, mobile phones, cameras / video equipment, medical equipment etc.

Below we can see memory chip containing the firmware of a DVD player:

Firmware unui DVD-Player

Sometimes we need the latest version

Original firmware is serving a a product mostly over its lifetime. Sometimes, however, the need arises to replace the current firmware version with one improved. If the firmware is stored in a memory chip EEPROM or flash, the user can be rewritten using a special program.

The new version of firmware and software programming EEPROM or flash memory chip can usually be obtained from the hardware device manufacturer’s website.

Firmare upgrade de pe site-ul producatorului

Update procedure

PC procedure of the firmware update can be performed directly from Windows or may require booting the computer in DOS mode.

Rewriting the BIOS of a motherboard in Windows:

Rescriere BIOS Windows

Rewriting the BIOS of motherboards in DOS:

Rescriere BIOS

Firmware and BIOS

The BIOS of a computer, acronym that comes from the Basic Input Output System, is for a computer what is the firmware for other electronic equipment.

However, the BIOS of a PC is more than just a regular firmware because it allows us to interact with it,  while a regualr firmware is a software that has no user interface. (It is there but we do not „see” it.)

BIOS interactionare

How are read / written optical disks

One of the biggest breakthroughs in storage technology is the optical storage. The basis of this type of storage is optical phenomenon known as light reflection. 1 The fact that two objects can reflect light differently,  is used by the optical storage technology to represent a number of bits in a reflective surface.

Next is to find out some details about how data storage using optical technology. In other words, you’ll learn why an optical medium is optical, not magnetic.


Optical media stores data in a layer of photosensitive storage along a spiral track. (For a compact disc, such a track would reach a length of approximately 5 km.)

Compozitie CD

Order bits are registered on the space marked by a cross in the form of microscopic cavities or dots that are designed differently to reflect light emitted by a laser beam. A flat surface means 0 (land) and a cavity or point 1 (pit).
Points that represent bits size and the distance between them is oridinul microns. (A micron is equal to a thousandth of a millimeter – 10 -6 meters). At Micron, density of points that can be represented is hundreds of millions on an area of ​​a few square centimeters.

Comparatie CDvsDVDvsBlu-ray

The laser beam

To decode billions of points inside the data storage layer is used a laser beam.

Laser bluray

Beam verifies the absence or presence of serial microscopic cavities or points that represent bits and report the electronic signals as the absence or presence of the world. Further reading electronic unit interprets electronic signals received as bytes.

Raza laser

The advantages of optical storage

The most common optical media (CD and DVD) weighing a few grams, with a thickness of 1.2 mm and a diameter of 12 cm.

Direct access to stored information.
Any information can be found in the storage area of ​​an optical medium within measurable in milliseconds.

Improved security of data stored and long use

Optical storage media not by reading wear. In terms of handling carefully the information stored on an optical disc (quality) can be accessed for ten years.

Low price per storage megabaitul
A regular media (CD or DVD) can be purchased for a ridiculously low price, and provides a relatively large storage capacity.


Most optical storage media fall WORM storage media category – Write Once Read Many.

WORM medium that can be written once is closely related to the process of writing data, which is irreversible. Storage layer once it has been modified by writing data can not be brought to its original condition.

The fact that the stored information can not be deleted or modified should not be seen as a major disadvantage. Feature information permanently prevents accidental deletion or modification thereof.

Non-optical media Worm, rerecord called, can also be read many times but at the same time can be erased and rewritten with new information.

  1. Reflection, reflections, sf 1. Phenomenon of partial return of light, sound, radiation in the environment from which they came when they encounter a surface separating two media, reflection