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Awesome DOS Awesome

Family of operating systems for x86-based personal computers including IBM PC DOS and MS-DOS that were popular during the 1980s and early 1990s.

A curated list of references for development of DOS applications and learning about the system itself. This includes list of compilers, tutorials, videos, links to free and paid books and source code to DOS operating systems and DOS games. The goal of this list is to collect information and act as a starting point for someone who wants to start out retro-programming for the DOS platform.


Development tools

  • bcc - Bruce's Compiler - Bruce's C compiler is a simple C compiler that produces 8086 assembler for tiny/small memory models.
  • DJGPP - DJ Delorie's complete 32-bit C/C++ development environment for Intel 80386. Used for Quake.
  • GCC IA-16 toolchain - A 16-bit counterpart to DJGPP, a GCC-based toolchain for developing 16-bit (8086 to 80286, a.k.a. IA-16) DOS applications, currently maintained by TK Chia.
  • Open Watcom - Formerly commercial C/C++ development environment for 16- and 32-bit DOS and Windows. The current official version is 1.9. A GitHub fork is also available. Used for Doom I-II, Warcraft I-II, Duke Nukem 3D, Full Throttle, Dark Forces and Retro City Rampage.
  • Open Watcom V2 - GitHub fork which is actively maintained and is ported to 64-bit Windows and Linux.
  • Turbo C 2.01 - C IDE and compiler from Borland first released in 1987.
  • Turbo C++ 1.01 - C++ IDE and compiler from Borland released in 1991.
  • DIV Games Studio 2 - IDE to develop DOS games in 2d, mode 7 and 3d. Released in 1998.
  • T3X - A small, portable, procedural, block-structured, recursive, almost typeless, and to some degree object-oriented programming language by Nils M. Holm.
  • SmallerC - Portable self-hosting C compiler capable of producing executables for a number of platforms, including real and protected mode DOS programs, by Alexei A. Frounze.
  • Small-C Toolkit - A self-hosting Small-C Compiler Toolkit for DOS(8086) with: K&R C Compiler, Make, Linker, Assembler. First released in 1982 by Jim E. Hendrix.

Memory managers

Scripting languages and interpreters for DOS

  • DOjS - JavaScript programming environment for MS-DOS, FreeDOS or any DOS-based Windows (like 95, 98, ME).
  • Lua for DOS - Online demo of Lua 5.3.5, compiled for MS-DOS on the Intel 80486 processor.
  • Micropython for FreeDOS - FreeDOS ad-hoc module for micropython.
  • perldos - Perl for DOS.
  • PythonD - Python for DOS, including multi-threading, networking and OpenGL.

Tutorials and programming resources


  • The Life of MS-DOS by Brendan Byers - History of the DOS family including CP/M, Q-DOS/86-DOS, MS-DOS and PC-DOS. Article also includes a diagram of the timeline and family tree of DOS operating systems.




  • bios.h header documentation by Digital Mars - API documentation for routines accessing BIOS operations directly (disk operations, BIOS keyboard, printer, time, memory, serial, interrupts).
  • dos.h header documentation by Digital Mars Part 1 Part 2 - API documentation of functions for interfacing with the DOS operating system itself.




  • Values for standard video mode - List of all known video modes including BIOS interrupt numbers, text/pixel resolution, number of colors and video memory addresses.





PC Speaker


Sound Blaster/OPL3


  • Table of DOSBox cyclecounts according to processor types - A table for setting the appropriate DOSBox cycle count according to CPU types (IBM XT 88, 286, 386, 486, Pentium I, Pentium II). Comes handy when you are developing a DOS game and want to simulate the environment where you intend to execute it.





Source code

Open source DOS operating systems

  • MS-DOS - GitHub repository of the original source code for MS-DOS v1.25, v2.0 and v4.0, open-sourced by Microsoft.
  • FreeDOS - FreeDOS is an open source DOS-compatible operating system that you can use to play classic DOS games, run legacy business software, or develop embedded systems. Any program that works on MS-DOS should also run on FreeDOS.

Open source DOS libraries

  • Allegro 4.2 - Game development library for DOS, Windows and Linux.
  • LoveDOS - A framework for making 2D DOS games in Lua. API based on a subset of the LÖVE API.
  • DOS-VGA-Game - Marco A. Marrero's DOS VGA/hardware library implemented in assembly and Turbo Pascal.
  • DIGPAK sound drivers source code - Original source code for the DIGPAK sound drivers uploaded to GitHub by John W. Ratcliff.

Open source DOS games

Homebrew games with source code

List of all homebrew DOS games:

  • DOS Defender - Christopher Wellons's x86 real mode DOS Asteroids clone created as an entry for Lundum Dare #31.
  • Dungeons of Noudar - First-person 2.5D dungeon-crawler on protected mode. Written in C++, includes software rendering, fixed point math, test coverage and sound (PC speaker, Adlib, OPL2LPT).
  • Emeritus Pong - Pong clone for DOS, Windows and Linux. Uses PC speaker for sound on DOS.
  • Floppy Bird - Flappy Bird clone written in 16 bit assembly. Not a DOS program, but a PC-Booter application instead (although it's also possible to build a COM executable for DOS).
  • George M. Tzoumas's collection of MS-DOS games and utilities - Turbo Pascal with few games in C and C++. Games include Nibbles, Connect Four, Ms Pacman clone and two arcade/platform games. One of them (ra2) was written using Allegro. Utilities are all written in Turbo Pascal, these include game system routines, file and disk utilities and terminate-and-stay-resident programs (TSR).
  • Gold Mine Run! - Platformer written in C using DJGPP.
  • Gridfighter 3D - '80s style arcade shooter written in Quickbasic. Also the very first known DOS game that supports Oculus Rift VR headset.
  • Hangman - Hangman clone written in Basic. Runs on at least 80286 processors and uses EGA graphics.
  • Magenta's Maze - 3D maze game using CGA graphics with algebra as theme.
  • Mario - Super Mario Bros clone written in Turbo Pascal.
  • NetHack - Descendant of the original NetHack rougelike game first released in 1987 available on multiple platforms.
  • Piskworks - Gomoku clone written in C. Works on DOS, ZX Spectrum, ZX81, ZX80, APPLE1, AS400 and Windows.
  • Plutonium Caverns - Overhead puzzle game written in C. Web version uses DOSBox ported to Emscripten to embed DOSBox into HTML5. However, the original executable is also downloadable and buildable with Open Watcom.
  • Ptakovina - Tetris clone written in C. Runs on DOS, Unix/Linux, ZX Spectrum and Windows.
  • sudoku86 - Sudoku clone written in C. Runs on 8086/8088 CPU, uses CGA, MCGA or VGA graphics and uses a mouse.
  • Tetris - Tetris clone written in assembly.
  • Towers of Hanoi - Tower of Hanoi puzzle game written in Turbo Pascal. Originally released in 1996.
  • x86 pong - Text-mode Pong clone written in C. Runs as PC-Booter game and under DOS.
  • zmiy - Text-mode Snake clone written in C. Runs on 8086 DOS.

Freeware games with source code

  • Cyberdogs - Top-down 2D shooter playing as a mercenary to earn money. Written in Turbo Pascal. Supports two player mode.
    • Source code download link
    • C-Dogs - Sequel to the original Cyberdogs. Ronny Wester, the original creator no longer maintains the website for the original C-Dogs, but multiple ports exists, including cdogs-sdl.

Commercial games with published source code

  • Abuse - Sci-fi side-scrolling platform game. Regarded as an innovative cult classic by most people. Supports SVGA mode up to 1280x1024 resolution. Written in C, the architecture includes a Lisp-scripting engine.
  • Beneath a Steel Sky - Point-and-click adventure game set in a dystopian future. Written in assembly.
  • Catacomb - 2D top-down shooter developed by Softdisk (later becoming id Software). Supports EGA and CGA graphics. Written in Turbo Pascal and assembly.
  • Catacomb 3D - First-person shooter in fantasy setting developed by Softdisk (later becoming id Software). Features pseudo-3D graphics with raycasting technique. Supports EGA graphics. Written in C and assembly. Compiled with Borland C++ 3.1.
  • Commander Keen in Keen Dreams - Side-scrolling platform game developed by id Software. Keen Dreams is the Commander Keen game created between Keen 3 and Keen 4 (often considered "Keen 3.5"), but was not widely released. Written in C and assembly.
  • Descent - First sci-fi FPS/space shooter to feature entirely true 3D graphics. Written in C and assembly.
  • Descent II - Sequel to Descent. Written in C and assembly.
  • Doom - Sci-fi FPS developed by id Software where you fight demons from hell on Mars. The DOS-specific code for Doom could not be published because of a dependency to the licensed DMX sound library, hence why it's cleaned up and only the Linux source is there. However, the Heretic and Hexen projects contain the original DOS code in a way where DMX-related code is removed.
  • Duke Nukem 3D - FPS developed by Apogee featuring the iconic character Duke Nukem. Written in C. Compiled with Watcom C/C++ 10.0.
  • Heretic - Dark fantasy FPS running on id Software's Doom engine.
  • Hexen: Beyond Heretic - Indirect sequel to Heretic.
  • Hovertank 3D - FPS developed by id Software. Features pseudo-3D graphics with raycasting technique, before Catacomb 3D and Wolfeinstein 3D. Written in C and assembly.
  • Quake - FPS developed by id Software set in a fully 3D world. Written in C. Compiled with DJGPP for DOS.
  • Rise of the Triad: Dark War - FPS developed by Apogee. It was developed as a follow-up to Wolfenstein 3D, but was altered and became a standalone game instead. Uses a heavily modified Wolfenstein 3D engine. Written in C.
  • Sopwith - Side-scrolling shoot 'em up created by David L. Clark in 1984. The game involves piloting a Sopwith biplane, attempting to bomb enemy buildings while avoiding fire from enemy planes and various other obstacles.
  • Wolfenstein 3D - FPS developed by id Software set in the Nazi German prison Castle Wolfenstein. Features pseudo-3D graphics with raycasting technique. Written in C and assembly.