MS-DOS manga

Jeg kan ikke norsk! Jeg kan ikke snakke litt norsk, even. And that’s quite worrying since Norwegian exams are coming, er, in 2 dager. Being unable to write much about Japanske at the moment, I bring as an offering this manga I found last week for R$1:

cover to Sugaya Mitsuru’s Manga MS-DOS Nyûumon
The other day someone was talking about the trend in edutainment manga. The “trend” dates far back… This is 1991’s A manga introduction to MS-DOS by Sugaya Mitsuru, part of a series including books on Lotus 1-2-3, networking (on NIFTY-Serve), Japanese dedicated word processors (as in the hardware kind, wapurô), Ichitarô, et cetera.
A page from Manga MS-DOS Nyûmon, comparing command-line wildcards to videogame cheats or ‘urawaza’

Amazed by the expressive power of the commandline, the boss compare it to urawaza (cheats, tricks, secret codes; I’m tempted to localize it as PROTIP, though that will only make sense to 80s gamers) and the office lady replies that urawaza surely is a [Nintendo] Famicom thing…

When you get used to the things one can do with a commandline, it does indeed feel like cheating in a videogame—though the powers of the DOS shell have always paled in comparison to those of Unix-style systems.

A page from Manga MS-DOS Nyûmon, showing a directory listing with yen ¥ symbols

The infamous yen separators. For mysterious reasons, MS-DOS changed the perfectly sensible file separation symbol of Unix, the forward slash ‘/’, to a backslash ‘\’ (which plagues us even today when we are forced to deal with Windows). Early Japanese text encodings (including ISO-646 and Shift-JIS) substituted the yen symbol ‘¥’ for the ASCII backslash character code (0x5c). Internally it’s treated as the same character, so that it still works as a directory separator; it’s only that the computer prints it as a yen glyph instead of a backslash. The same thing happened with early Korean software and the won symbol ₩. We still see yen-pathnames in some Japanese software.

Programs listed above include Ichitarô, one of the most famous native word processors (as in the software kind); and games of Go, Shogi, and Tetris.

6 thoughts on “MS-DOS manga

  1. The explanation I’ve read for using backslashes as path separators is that MS-DOS was a rip off of CP/M, and CP/M used backslashes for command line flags instead of using – like Unix. The original version of MS-DOS had no directories, so it wasn’t a big deal. Until they added directories and they screwed themselves over for the next thirty years.

  2. Putting an all-kana author’s name in that position is just cruel. I can’t be the only one who wandered down an orthographic garden path to arrive at the verb “yamitsuru” before realizing my mistake.

  3. ooh that was interesting! I didn’t know about SWITCHAR at all.

    It’s weird how I was unsure that Wikipedia’s Mituru was the same as this one, because of kana and rômazi. And if it was kanji I would have felt certain it was the same guy, even though, of course, there are plenty of people with identical kanji names.

    Another thing I was surprised is how little English information there is about wapurô (the hardware kind).

  4. I think just seeing the す at the start led me to believe that it would be すぐ分かる or something like that, and then I totally skipped over the fact that it was が and not ぐ.

    (“To fish the darkness of vinegar…”)

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