The 640K memory limit of MS-DOS

At the beginning of the ’90s, the PC platform was often mocked by its rivals. Of course, PCs were much more powerful than, say, an Amiga 500. But the Amiga offered a flat memory address, while a DOS program could only access memory using cumbersome 64 KiB segments. And to add insult to injury, there was this strange 640 KiB memory limitation. No matter how much physical memory you had in your box, the utter most important Conventional Memory was limited to 640 KiB!

The Legend teaches us that Bill Gates once declared that “640 KB ought to be enough for anybody”, then designed MS-DOS to enforce this limitation.

The truth is of course a little more complicated than that.

This article brings back so many confusing childhood memories of MS-DOS and memory management – memories I wouldn’t wish on my biggest enemies. All kidding aside, this is a great insight into how memory is organised in MS-DOS.

31 Comments

  1. sukru 2018-06-11 12:15 am EST
  2. uridium 2018-06-11 2:05 am EST
  3. ssokolow 2018-06-11 3:03 am EST
  4. XtoF 2018-06-11 8:01 am EST
  5. BlackV 2018-06-11 9:50 am EST
  6. madko 2018-06-11 11:24 am EST
  7. gld59 2018-06-11 12:02 pm EST
  8. Mike Bouma 2018-06-11 1:37 pm EST
    • Kochise 2018-06-11 2:02 pm EST
    • XtoF 2018-06-12 12:24 am EST
    • IndigoJo 2018-06-12 2:05 pm EST
      • Kochise 2018-06-12 2:16 pm EST
      • brostenen 2018-06-12 6:09 pm EST
    • wifi 2018-06-13 9:42 pm EST
    • zima 2018-06-13 9:57 pm EST
  9. gilboa 2018-06-11 3:01 pm EST
    • ssokolow 2018-06-11 6:31 pm EST
      • gilboa 2018-06-13 10:08 am EST
    • kuiash 2018-06-11 6:52 pm EST
      • ssokolow 2018-06-11 7:08 pm EST
        • kuiash 2018-06-11 7:34 pm EST
      • gilboa 2018-06-13 10:06 am EST
        • XtoF 2018-06-13 12:23 pm EST
          • gilboa 2018-06-14 12:13 pm EST
        • Kochise 2018-06-13 3:52 pm EST
          • gilboa 2018-06-14 12:13 pm EST
  10. kurkosdr 2018-06-11 9:44 pm EST
    • zima 2018-06-13 9:55 pm EST
  11. brostenen 2018-06-11 10:48 pm EST
    • XtoF 2018-06-12 12:34 am EST
  12. MadRat 2018-06-13 1:12 am EST