Rainbow 100 Windows 1.0 disks, redux

Rainbow 100 Windows 1.0 Disks

OK. I never thought I'd find myself writing a blog about Microsoft Windows of all things. However, that's what I'm doing.

A while ago, on the cctalk mailing list I mentioned that I had Windows 1.0 disks for the Rainbow. I didn't think anything of it until someone contacted me about it. I'd never looked at them in the 15 years they've been in my collection. You needed the Graphics Option card, and I don't have one so I just filed it away in the back of my brain. I never looked into the situation further.

So, it turns out that the publicly available Rainbow Windows 1.0 disks are really not quite right. They are a collision between the Rainbow 100 version, and the VAXmate version. And evidentially, neither quite work. This collection has been cargo culted around in the three decades since they became available, but they didn't work. it was well known, but the archives contained what they contained and successive generations of hackers tried, and failed, to disentwingle the resulting mess. The mess is still available at archives of archives of archives, for example at Classic CMP there's a copy of the "goodnight" archive which is an incomplete copy of the various BBS archives that existed in the last 80's and early 90's.

Sometime in 2001, Arun Welsh and I corresponded about the DEC Rainbow. I forget the details, but if memory serves, he had a ton of disks that he was looking to get rid of and wanted to see them find a good home. The details are frankly fuzzy after 16 years. I got these disks and took out a few of the interesting bits, but mostly it was a collection of files that were available elsewhere so I didn't look too closely at the collection. But DEC Windows 1.03 stuck in my brain for some reason.

Recently, that boast I made in cctalk generated some email requesting a copy. Since I had my Rainbow out and was messing with it, I thought I'd oblige them. Once upon a time, I could read Rainbow disks, but that was a dozen hardware iterations ago, so I fired up my old machine and read the files in. There's two sets. One was Rainbow MS Windows and was 7 disks. It contained what appears to be a copy of the Goodnight archives with the entertwingled set of files. The other was 4 disks of DEC Windows 1.03.

The other one proved more interesting. It was a different set of files. It came with a letter tucked into the one of the disks giving permission to upload the set of disks to any BBS (including the recipient's BBS, who wasn't Arun, I've forgotten his connection to this mystery). If there's interest, I can post this letter.

Early repots suggest this is a good copy. If they prove true, I wonder how hard it would be to get things corrected in all the online archives.

I've uploaded to a github repo I've created. These files are under 'decwin' while the putative copy of the goodnight archives is under 'rbwin'. I've also uploaded a copy of wutil 3.2 source and binaries. I plan on uploading the Venix binaries there as well, once I get things sorted out and post instructions on how to install them either on real hardware, or in an emulator.

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