This is a collection of programs of all kinds that we have found useful over the years. Some of these go back a long way, but are still very useful. A few are no longer distributed by their authors. A mixture of freeware and shareware; licensing information with each program.
Probably the best way to run DOS programs today is on DosBox. It’s largely geared for gamers, so compatibility with non-games will vary, but it’s generally good. More information on the practical implementation of DosBox is here.
LZEXE: This is an old favourite of ours. A DOS program, it enables the compression of DOS programs without overlays in such a way that they are still executables, but much smaller. In the days of real floppies (before they became “stiffies” with the smaller ones) this was a great boon. We used this in the development of our ZWAVE wave equation program and many other DOS programs developed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. We’re not sure what good it is today, but it doesn’t take much utility to rate space on today’s cheap web space.
MCF: this terminate-and-stay-resident (TSR) program is an easy way of simplifying life in command-line DOS. It gives you an easy visual way of seeing your files and directories listed, manipulating those files and running either executables or batch files. Its memory requirements are minimal, so you’re able to run your DOS programs without serious overhead requirements (unlike, ahem, Windows). The instructions are pretty much as you can see them on the right side of the screenshot above.
Windows 16-Bit Programs (generally Windows 3.1)
These will generally not run on 64-bit Windows systems (Vista, 7, 8 and 10) and some of them don’t do well with XP either. Probably your best bet is to either try to run them in Windows 3.1 on top of DosBox (which can be complicated) or in a (virtual) machine with Windows 95, 98, 2000 (the best option IMHO) or XP. (The less said about Windows Me or Vista, the better.)
Home Planet: Home Planet is a Microsoft Windows application which calculates the position of the Earth, Sun, Moon, planets, asteroids, comets, and Earth satellites with high accuracy and provides the following capabilities:
- Map of the Earth
- Sun/Moon information panel
- Planetary position panel
- Sky map
- Telescope display
- Horizon view
- Satellite tracking panel
- View Earth from… panel
- Vector map or texture-mapped image rendering
- Object catalogue
- Satellite database selection
- Set observing site
- Set Universal time or Julian date
- Speed, direction, and time step selectable
Home Planet was written by John Walker, the founder of AutoDesk, which of course produces AutoCad. Download the zip file, extract it to one directory, and run the setup.exe file to install. It will run in any version of Windows from 3.1 and up. The graphics are a little dated, but for those who are interested in things like this, this is one more cool program. Used extensively in the writing of The Island Chronicles.
Rockford for Windows: A program to make your business cards. Easy to use and versatile.
Note: If you use images, keep in mind the program was designed for 300 dpi printers, and cards with images should be printed that way.
Windows Utilities: This is a collection of three small programs:
- Foreigner. This program makes inserting “non-standard” characters (accented letters, degree symbol, etc.) a lot simpler than any of the Microsoft utilities (in either the operating system or Office) can do.
- HP Calc. HP came out with the first scientific calculator in 1972. It’s Reverse Polish Notation is still really the best. Now you can have it on your desktop. We also offer an online version of the classic HP-35 calculator; click here to see and try that out.
- Neko. A totally useless program, but simple and entertaining. Simply a cat running around the screen chasing the mouse. Started out in X11 (the ancestor of the GUI in Linux), then went to the Mac, now in Windows.
Windows 32-Bit Applications
In theory these will run on any Windows OS from 95 onwards, but that’s just theory. In reality the results you get will vary wildly.
MeteorFTP: An interesting utility which turns a Window$ 98/Me/2000/XP computer into an ftp server. Excellent for certain networking situations; allows Unix type operating systems (Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, etc.) to dispense with having to use SMB for file transfer with Window$ machines. Although I’d think long and hard about using a Window$ machine for an Internet server (especially Windows 98/Me), this utility is very handy.
Picture to Icon Converter: A useful utility to convert images into the 32 x 32 pixel Windows icons. You’ll need the following to use this program:
- A graphics editing program to get the image you want to make an icon out of into the 32 x 32 space, and in some cases to convert to jpeg, gif, bmp or wmf file.
- Visual Basic 6.0 RunTime files installed in your computer.
No installation is needed, the program and its readme are in a zip file.
Sly Autorun: Ever wanted the CD-ROM’s you produce to start by themselves? This program makes it possible. I have used this on many CD-ROMS (some commercially marketed) with good success. A highly recommended piece of software. The Autorun feature works on Windows 95 and later computers only. Unfortunately Windows XP and later frequently block this or any other autorun routine on CD’s, but if it still interests you give it a try.
SynchronX: An excellent utility to synchronise two directories (including subdirectories) with each other. Includes the ability to exclude certain files as well. Simple to set up and use. Works on Windows 98SE and up (with XP too, works with Me, the problem is that Me doesn’t work very well.) In English and French versions. Two languages/deux langues:
WS-FTP: One of the most venerable and reliable programs on the internet; this is one of the earlier versions. FTP is pretty basic, though, so you can get a great deal of work done with this handy routine. This version is free for non-commercial and government users but doesn’t pester you about it. Macintosh users can FTP too with Fetch and Cyberduck. The program is in a zip archive.
For general interest engineering software, click here.