We recently discovered a treasure trove of old software at VetusWare.com and it’s all free. They call it “Abandon Ware,” because the producers have either gone out of business or given up supporting it. Much of it is for DOS, though there are are quite a few programs designed to run on early versions of Windows.

Abandoned they may be, but there are some real jewels in here. We saw XyWrite, probably the best word processor ever made for desktop computers, and WordPerfect 5.1. This version was so stable and richly featured that it almost put the company out of business. After all, what can you sell to customers who already had the perfect product? We found AmiPro, dBaseIV, and Electronic Arts’ wonderful graphics program: “Deluxe Paint.”

VetusWare also has operating systems for download, so you can put together a computer loaded with some of the best software ever written. Bob is going to keep one old computer just to run MS-DOS, the Microsoft operating system that preceded Windows. The thing about DOS was that it was completely stable, and you only had to know half a dozen arcane computer commands to run it, but those proved to be too many for the market to tolerate.

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