Developed by Digital Learning Systems Inc. for IBM Corporation, 1987

The oldest (physical) piece of PC software that I own, this was a brief interactive tutorial designed to introduce the user to the basic PS/2 hardware. It came on the IBM Personal System/2 Model 30 Starter Diskette, an idea that, if suitably modernised and included with all new PCs, would probably reduce the number of calls made to technical support services worldwide.

The program consists of six 'chapters':

  1. How to Use This Program
  2. Hardware
  3. Software
  4. Troubleshooting
  5. What To Do Next
  6. Index
The software chapter includes a number of interactive mock-ups of different kinds of software packages that IBM expected the user to be purchasing the PC to use. These include a Data Base (sic), a Spreadsheet, a Presentation Graphics package, and a Word Processing package. It also mentions that you'll need an operating system.

The demo features 256-colour MCGA graphics and mouse support. It is significantly better presented and less patronising than any of Microsoft's monolithic efforts at beginner's help (by which I mean much later Windows efforts - DOS was always a firmly closed book to the average computer illiterate), although it has rather less ground to cover. Surprisingly, many of the conventions it describes are still in use today.

It's interesting to think how the PC might have developed if IBM had retained more control over the software side of things, although other examples where control of the hardware and software have stayed tightly bound (such as the iMac) suggest that things might have been even worse than they are now. Still, this small fragment of a graphical, mouse driven program from a resolutely DOS-based era is an interesting curiousity.

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