Remember seeing a black window with the following at the beginning of the line?
This is an operating system called MS-DOS. Made by Microsoft, this operating system is THE MOST POWERFUL MICROSOFT-MADE OPERATING SYSTEM ON EARTH! Also note that it's among the crappiest operating systems too. Then again, it's a Microsoft product!!!!!
Click here to see the entire guide (an actual copy of the original MS-DOS 6.20 user's manual,) or click here to save this guide on the computer & read it later. This guide is also available in the Downloads page.
Just keep in mind that DOS is still in use even today (this is a testament to the strength of DOS compared to other operating systems). As a matter of fact, even large-scale corporations like Dell, Lenovo & Toshiba still use DOS on boot disks to do such tasks as updating motherboard BIOS firmwares, killing CMOS passwords, cloning hard drives, reprogramming corrupt computer systems, etc.
In short, DON'T BASH MS-DOS BECAUSE IT'S OLD!
Now, to start making a bootable floppy disk with DOS, all that needs to be done is to open the command prompt & type the following:
C:\>format a: /s
This command will format the floppy disk & install DOS onto it! After that, load any 16-bit program onto that floppy disk. Here's a good list of programs:
Edit.com, Format.exe, Fdisk.exe, Ghost.exe, Gdisk.exe, Firm.exe, Edlin.exe, Killcmos.exe, Qbasic.exe, Gwbasic.exe, Bat2exe.exe, Nesticle.exe, Genecyst.exe, Dosshell.com, Choice.exe, Killdisk.exe, Chkdsk.exe, Subst.exe, Sys.com
And many, MANY more. Just don't go crazy with loading programs onto a floppy because there's only 1.44 MB of space. Note that many of these programs can be found on any Windows 3.1/9x/NT/2000/XP/ME system. Other than that, hunt for other programs on any search engine or go buy a program package like Symantec Ghost. (Remember Ghost.exe?)
If the computer doesn't have a floppy drive (which is the case for many computers made after the year 2005,) USB drives & external hard drives can also be used for boot disks. Using the same DOS command as above on a pre-partitioned external hard drive will work just as well. If a USB key is used instead, then a 3rd party formatting program is needed. Also note that the computer's motherboard needs to support booting from external hard drives & USB drives.
Even better still, it's possible to make bootable DOS CDs/DVDs; all that's needed to do this is a good optical disk mastering tool (like Nero, RecordNow! or Roxio Creator) & a bootable floppy disk or an image of a bootable floppy disk running in a floppy drive emulator (in some cases, a floppy disk image is all that's needed without the drive emulator because some optical drive mastering tools come with built-in support for using these floppy images). Refer to the mastering tool's help guides & manuals for details on how to burn bootable DOS CDs.
For a good floppy drive emulator (to run floppy images as if they were actual disks in a drive,) download the Virtual Floppy Drive utility here or in the Downloads page. This program will NOT boot the computer straight from a floppy image! It only gives open access to an image like an actual disk.
MS-DOS isn't entirely up to the challenges that modern computers usually face like DSL/cable internet or even sound support on modern motherboards. In spite of this, there are USB mass storage device drivers made for DOS; a set of 4 driver files that are collectively called the "Motto Hairu" DOS drivers (the name is Japanese since these drivers were created by Panasonic's headquarters in Japan, also known as Matsushita). Download the driver set here or in the Downloads page. Even though Panasonic has dubbed these drivers as experimental, they actually work well! The set of driver files include usbaspi.sys (USB 1.1 ASPI manager for DOS,) ramfd.sys (RAM disk driver to facilitate copying data to/from USB floppy drives,) di1000dd.sys (ASPI hard disk driver) & usbcd.sys (USB external optical disk driver). Refer to the text file "README.ENG" for more information on how to configure the drivers in DOS. Also note that "README.ENG" is a text file that can be opened in Notepad (it was renamed as an ENG file since the original zip archive also contained a Japanese text file called "README.TXT").
For those who want to access the internet on an MS-DOS machine (using a dial-up modem or IPX,) use Arachne; it's an open-source web browser that runs on MS-DOS. It's a sort of Mozilla-clone for DOS which includes a dialer program for DOS along with other add-ons that can easily be found on the internet such as zip file support & movie playback inside the browser. Download Arachne here or in the Downloads page. All this program needs is a computer that runs MS-DOS & has a dial-up/IPX connection or a packet driver for the computer's network card (Arachne is actually a 32-bit program, but there's an add-on that forces the browser to run in 16-bit mode, which is included with the program download).