Free Software for DOS
Databases, Genealogy, Spreadsheets & related

9 Dec 2005

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DataPerfect — Professional relational database.

* * * * *

[updated 2005-06-18]

DataPerfect is an impressive relational database program which does not require the use of a programming language – or the latest hardware. Now has Web-authoring capability.

Comments from a DP user:
As far as existing database platforms, none resemble DP's structure. None of the Windows platforms, when using only the applications generator (i.e., not writing code) allow for the complexity DP allows for, and most...don't allow for some of DP's relationality even with writing code. Also, most do very poorly with medium to large databases (say, databases with data files holding over 50,000 records each); whereas, DP allows for almost no slowdown, free of corruption, with data files in the millions of records each.

Copyrighted freeware. Originally released by WordPerfect Corp., then Novell (through 1994); subsequent releases by the author.

Author: Lew Bastian (2004). Suggested by A. Padilla, Maurizio Converso.

2004-12-03: v2.6x.

Download (330K).

Go to the DataPerfect Users Discussion Group for manuals, tools, links to other DP sites, mailing list, etc.

INMAGIC Plus — Powerful database program for textual information.


[added 1998, updated 2004-04-20]

INMAGIC Plus is a database program for maintaining textual information such as bibliographic, library, or legal documents. The DOS version has apparently been used in many libraries, but is now superseded by a Windows version. I haven't played with it much, but here is some unsolicited praise I've read:

These are NOT TRIVIAL products. If you're interested in a painless, no-cost method of experimenting with the Inmagic approach, and maybe starting up a prototype or developmental database, this offer should be of interest. Inmagic products have good export and translation features, so whatever you build or start to develop in the way of a datafile will definitely be transportable.
It's an excellent product, one of the standards in libraries, and used to cost about $1,000.

Publisher: Inmagic Inc. (1997).

1997-02-24: v1.0 Rel. 5. Last version for DOS, now freeware.

Download (431K).

nanoBase 1997 — xBase, dbf compatible database.

* * * *

[updated 2005-12-08]

nanoBase is a dBase compatible database that can function as a Dot command interpreter, menu driven xBase, xBase program interpreter, or compiler / executer of simple xBase programs. From my limited evaluation, it appears to be a solid choice for maintaining a variety of catalogs or databases. nB can access files created with Fox Pro 2, dBase III/III+/IV and CA-Clipper. Mouse compatible.

Author: Daniele Giacomini, Italy (1997).

EXEs for 80286+
Requires 80286+ and >2MB RAM. Most users should get this version.
EXEs for small PC
For XT, or 80286 with low RAM
Runtime EXEs
For all PCs

For more info, go to the nanoBase 1997 description page and to the online user manual.

REFERENCES — Bibliographic database program.


[added 2000-02-20, updated 2005-12-08]

From the docs:
REFERENCES is bibliographic software for authors of scientific manuscripts and for management of bibliographic data on ARTICLES IN PERIODICALS, BOOKS and CHAPTERS IN BOOKS. REFERENCES supports LaTeX including BibTeX. REFERENCES is able to import bibliographic records in the MEDLINE format. Retrieval of references by keywords, authors' or editors' names, date of publication, title of article, book title, journal name or combinations thereof is possible. Lists of references can be compiled in any (user-defined) format required by the publishers of scientific journals. Source code is included: REFERENCES is free software distributed under the terms of the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE, Version 2 (FSF).

Notes: "This software package includes a Win32 implementation of GAWK (version 3.1.1)". Other specialized tools perform various tasks. Requires external text editor. Docs in English and German. Under active development, see links below to check on latest version.

Author: Volker Kiefel, Germany (2000-2005).

32-bit DJGPP build, requires 80386+. Binaries, docs, extra utils and source, all in one download package.
Win32 console
DOS version of the executable is not distributed by the author, but it can be compiled from the source code – see next item.
32-bit DJGPP build, requires 80386+. Not officially supported.
Win32 console
DOS version can be compiled from the source code. Available as ZIP archive or installer EXE.

All files
Binaries + manual (pdf)
Binaries + manual (pdf)
Source + manual (tex)
Binaries + manual (pdf)

Binaries + manual (pdf)

For latest Windows binaries, helper apps, and source (C), go to the Download page.

Get more info and installation help at the Home Page.

Get all versions 4.x at the File List page.

Get some more info and news at the Project page.

PC-File — Award-winning flat file database manager.


PC-File, created by the "Father of Shareware" Jim Button, has been reclassified (9-97) as unsupported freeware. PC-File won three PC Magazine Editor's Choice awards in the '80s and early '90s. I've heard much about it, but have no experience with it. I will allow an old advertisement to speak for this program:

Awarded its second Editors' Choice in the June 26, 1990 issue of PC Magazine, PC-File is the #1 rated flat-file database manager. The May 14, 1990 issue of PC Week said "PC-File emerged as the most powerful flat filer". ShareWare magazine awarded PC-File an Editors Choice award in 1991. In December 1991 Home Office Computing awarded PC-File four stars stating, "Few programs in recent years have offered as much power for the price as PC-File." In July 1992, Data Based Advisor magazine awarded PC-File 1st place in Documentation, Ease of use in report creation, and Price vs. value provided. PC-File is so popular because it does just what you need a database to do: store, organize, retrieve, manipulate and update information. Whether it's your mailing list or your membership list; your clients, your customers, or your contacts; sales, inventory, expenses, payables & receivables, even your hobby collection...PC-File can keep track of it.
PC-File sports an impressive list of features, such as easy database creation, relational posting and retrieval, customized data entry screens, powerful search and retrieval capabilities, five different ways to create reports, including point and click and a forms designer, merge letters, bar code output including ZIP+4 Postnet & UPC, pie, bar and line graphs, quick mailing labels, 10 levels of sorting, macros, password protection, dBase file compatibility, extensive import and export with many other popular programs and much more!

The freeware version is the fully functional v5.01, but the included manual is for v3.0. Documentation may be inadequate for some features. PC-File is not Y2K compliant.

Author: Jim Knopf [aka Jim Button] (1997).

Download (626K).

Easy Base — Programmable relational database.


[added 2001-08-12, updated 2004-04-20]

Formerly paid shareware, now free. See description wih screenshots at the Easy Base page.

Author: John Turnbull / Easy Software Ltd., UK (1998).

1998-06-05: v11.4.

Download (1.3MB).

DBM (Database Manager) — General-purpose database.


[updated 2004-06-27]

From the docs: a general-purpose database manager...It works in text mode screen with excellent mouse support. DBM also supports user configuration for user-defined tasks on specific database files.
Main Features:

Note: May not be wise to run this program under Win3.1 (rg).

1995-10-28: v1.13. Cardware.

Author: Zhuhan Jiang, Australia (1995). Suggested by Lars-Erik Sandberg.

Download (300K).


Freebase — Simple database uses plain text files.
Trilogy — Note retrieval system.

[added 1998-06-16]

Reviewed by Howard Schwartz.

Freebase and Trilogy represent a middle ground between simple "cardfile" programs, such as the applet that comes with Windows, and fully functional databases. These programs operate on collections of various pieces of text, e.g., recipes, notes, book summaries, phone call descriptions, medical information. We often want to search these pieces of text to find specific information. But we don't want to deal with the complexity, time, and effort of setting up and maintaining a full fledged database. Freebase and Trilogy let you label pieces of text with one or more descriptive keywords, and retrieve the text items by doing simple, "database" type searches on the keywords.

Freebase is one of the few database programs that operates on an ordinary ascii file as the data file. You can change the (ascii) data file with any text editor of your choice. To add a new piece of text, you simply mark its beginning with a special character (~), and add one or more descriptive keywords at the end of the text.

You retrieve items of text in one of two ways: You can search the text itself for the presence of one or more words (similar to a wordprocessor's search and replace mechanism). You you can search your list of descriptive keywords for these words. "Or" type searches are done by doing a sequence of full data-base searches, one at a time. "And" type searches are done by doing several searches in succession, where each new search looks only through the text found by the last search.

Advantages: 1) Uses a simple ascii file as the data file. Does not require items to be imported to or exported from a special format. 2) Has a wonderful, easy to use, well thought out interface and display format. 3) Has a DOS escape key, so you can use it as a pop-up data base by starting it and then escaping to DOS.

Disadvantages: 1) Cannot perform complex Boolean searches on keywords (e.g., search for text containing word, X, but not word, Y). 2) Must search for text strings only, no wildcards available. 3) You must prepare index of keywords manually by including a separate list of keywords as the first piece of text in your data file. 3) Limitations on the size of the database. The manual claims that a piece of text must be no more than a screenful of lines (21 lines). However, I found that larger pieces seem to work fine. One data file is limited to 100 pieces of text (but you can split a large database into 2 or more files).

Author: Glynn Shaffer (1988).

1988-03-28: v1.2.

Download (79K).

Trilogy permits more elaborate Boolean searches of keywords, and it automatically generates two indexes for you – an alphabetized list of keywords, and a list of "titles" for each piece of text. A "title" is the line of keywords that starts a piece of text. The cost of these extras is using a specially formatted, non-ascii, database file. Preparation of pieces of text is equally easy: include one or more keywords at the beginning of the text, and then import the text into a data-base, using the trilogy program itself. You can view the indices of keywords and titles, and then retrieve pieces of text, using simple or relatively complex Boolean searches on the keywords or titles. Trilogy also lets you print out pieces of text, as well as viewing them. The program was originally written by a professor to keep track of notes made in preparation for writing a research book.

Advantages: 1) Complex "and" and "or" searches are permitted. However, "not" type searches are not available. 2) Searches can use a simple wildcard (*). 3) Handles relatively large databases of up to 500 notes per file, filesizes up to 1/2 Meg, and multi-screen text items.

Disadvantages: 1) Cannot search the text itself for words. To do this you must export the text out of Trilogy's data-base and search it with an ordinary editor. 2) Changing the keywords or text in a data file is time consuming and awkward: You must export the text out of the database, change it with a text editor, and then import it back into the database. 3) Has an awkward, non-intuitive user interface. In particular, one cannot go directly from the keyword screen to the retrieve-text screen. You can get around this limitation by using a key macro TSR (e.g., Quickey).

Author: B. J. Ball (1988).

1988-04-04: Unnumbered release.

Download (57K).

Stash — Command line flat-file note database.


[added 2001-08-14, updated 2005-12-08]

Stash is a simple yet useful command-line note "database." It's especially handy when you want to quickly store / recall those brief one-line notes without the overhead of loading a fullfledged PIM or database. A list of limitations is included in the documentation.

stash ?{string}  - SEARCH for string
stash #{string}  - RESTRICT SEARCH for string
stash !{string}  - INVERSE MATCH
stash +{string}  - ADD string to data
stash -{string}  - DELETE string from data
stash @{a b}     - REPLACE string A with string B in data
stash .{alias}   - ALIAS execute command(s) by label
stash p{x}       - PRIORITY where optional {x} equals 1, 2 or 3
stash e          - EDIT data as defined by the [e] tag
stash c          - COOKIE display a random string with the [c] tag

Author: Michael S. Sanders / Mike's Software (2001).

2001-09-20: v1.06.

Download (46K).

Get more info and v2.0 for Win32 command line at the Stash page.

dg (data-grepper) — Search for complete records based on search phrase.


From the docs:
dg will search a text file for a given phrase and print all "records" containing that phrase to standard output...This utility is not designed to replace full featured databases with formal query languages. It is suitable for keeping utility files, such as address or contact files or software requirements files, when the purpose of the search is not to settle just for individual lines containing the desired phrase, but to get the entire paragraph or record. It is like grep with some notion of context...
dg is intended for free form "flat" files of text containing records (multi-line chunks or "paragraphs") separated by a defined delimiter character (default is "*")... A "paragraph" mode (-dd option) treats blank lines as record delimiters... Unlike grep, which would report only the specific lines containing the search term (or a fixed number of lines either side of the find), data-grepper will print the entire record in which the search term was found – or a specified number of key lines for that record. It is useful from the command line, but most powerful when used in batch files that grab a set of records and then do further processing on them...
The program does not directly support wildcards, nor does it understand all unix "regular expressions." A wildcarded list of files to search may be done using the dgw batch file.

(See docs for a list of limitations).

Author: Pete Marikle (1997). Suggested by Marianna Van Erp.

1997-05-26: v0.53.

Download (109K).


DBV — dBase (*.dbf) file viewer and editor.


This is a handy little (55K) *.dbf file viewer with the added ability to edit records and fields. Search function included. A configuration file can store custom switches. File size limit unknown, but it can handle relatively large files (I've only tested it with a 1.2MB file). Pops up a directory browser if run without parameters.

Author: Raymond T. Kaya (1994).

1994-04-06: v1.23.

Download (44K).

DBFVIEW — dBase (*.dbf) file viewer and editor, mouse support.


[added 1999-05-03, updated 2005-12-08]

Much like DBV and VFPVIEW but includes good mouse support and some different options. Requires 80286+, DOS3.3+

Author: Tibor Kovács, Romania (2000).

2000-01-13: v2.33.

Download (29K).

VFPVIEW — (V)FoxPro, dbf table viewer and editor, Win9x LFNs.


[added 11-97, updated 2005-12-08]

Similar to DBV but includes additional enhancements. Includes a search field function, displays header info, type of table, and table code page. Latest versions can also repair damaged headers and display Win9x long file names (LFNs). Code page translation support. May choke on empty directory (i.e., w/ no *.dbf files).

Author: Milan Kosina, Czech Republic (1999-2001).

2001-01-05: v3.2 recompiled.

Download (36K).

CLUT — Powerful dbf viewer, editor, and manipulator.


[added 2000-03-21, updated 2004-10-01]

Package includes three versions of the program: Real mode (80286, DOS 3+), standard protected mode, graphic protected mode. All run under DOS or Win32. Bilingual, English and Italian.

From the docs:
"CLUT.EXE" is intended to be a more efficient alternative to the "Dbu.Exe" utility, distributed with CA-Clipper...
The program allows to open simultaneously one or more DBF files, each of them with its own indexes, using the same or different "RDDs"; relations may be set among them and they may be displayed (browse) separately or in selected multifile views. It also allows to execute any operation done in complex procedure.
The usable "RDDs" are "DbfNdx" (Dbase III), "DbfNtx" (CA-Clipper) and the quite undocumented CA-Clipper 5.3 "DbfCdx", with its innovative features (Comix-FlexFile-BLOB). includes a "dot" command prompt too, to process any expression or function. It may be used to test how new or yet unused expressions or functions work.

...and much more – see the docs.

Author: Sergio Cocci, Italy (2004).

2004-05-19: v2.14.

Download (1.5MB).


Titanic — Rescue / repair damaged dbf files.


[added 1999-09-07, updated 2004-04-20]

Repairs damaged dbf files..."The idea [behind the] program is to copy the correct header from [a] sample file and recover all data in [the] damaged file. [The] sample file can be empty or you can create a new empty file for this purpose." Performance: "100% successful in the case of damaged header"; can recover a maximum of data even with "shifted disk block" error. Interactive, full screen interface. Runs under DOS 0r Win32. Available in English, Slovak and Czech language versions. "This is SHAREWARE, registration fee is a POSTCARD no money".

Author: Branislav Stofko, Slovakia (1998-2001).

2001-11-22: v98.04 re-released.

Download, in English, (77K).

See a screenshot at the Titanic page.

Get more info, and Czech and Slovak versions, at Branislav Stofko's Shareware, Freeware and Public domain programs (pages in English, Czech, Slovak, German).


CONVERT (2) — Converts among dBase, delimited text, fixed text, Lotus 1-2-3 formats.


[updated 2002-11-15]

From the docs:

Converts between data formats: FROM dBase, ASCII-delimited (typically commas between fields and quotes around strings), and fixed field TO Lotus WKS, ASCII-delimited, dBase, and fixed field.

Notes: Requires DOS3.0+. User can create definition files that override default settings.

Author: Bruce Guthrie (2002).

2002-08-10: v0208.

Download CONV0208.ZIP (102K).

More in these pages from Bruce Guthrie.

DBF2HTML — Command-line DBF to HTML converter.

See extended description on the HTML page.


Also see Kindred Connections, a useful, free, but Win3.1-based sprogram.

Roots Master – Genealogy database with GEDCOM import / export.

* * * * 1/2

This simple but well designed text mode program is a database for storing family information and generating documents showing family relationships. Mouse driven, and very nice for a free program. This is the only genealogy program I've ever used (or needed) – I haven't compared it with the shareware competition.

Key features:
  1. View and print ancestors, descendants, family groups, alphabetical lists, birthday lists, longevity analyses, etc..
  2. Can enter an unlimited number of people.
  3. Can export to the GEDCOM format, which is readable by most genealogy programs. If you advance to a professional package, you won't have to re-key your information.
  4. Allows you to enter name, address, birth date and place, marriage date and place, death date and place, and sex for each relative. Once entered, you can easily tie relatives together with father, mother, and spouse relationships.
  5. Supports an unlimited number of multiple marriages.
  6. Excellent search and filtering capabilities. Query-building feature.
  7. Prints out family history worksheets which can be used to help collect family history data.
  8. Does not catalog family pictures.

Limitations: I've observed and confirmed a rare problem maintaining certain spouse links (even after correcting errors).

Author: Robert K. Summers / RKS Software (1995).

1995-10-06: v2.3.

Download (310K).


GENERAL REMARKS: I can't recommend any of the available DOS freeware spreadsheets to the newbie / GUI user (except for tasks like floppy-portable, no-frills number crunching which they perform quite well). One spreadsheet I do recommend is InstaCalc, but its freeware status has only been informally communicated by the owner.

The DOS freeware spreadsheets listed here may meet their own design goals well, but they will appear to many as alien and underpowered compared with 1-2-3, Excel, or Quatro Pro. None are good choices if the user needs easy portability of files between spreadsheet programs. Minimally, support for delimited text (e.g., CSV) would be desirable, but this hasn't been implemented in any free spreadsheet listed here (but see InstaCalc and DN-OSP / NDN, below).

Finally, all freeware spreadsheets below (except InstaCalc) are lacking now-standard commands that most spreadsheet users expect (e.g., format number as a date, sort a range of cells, undo, etc..).

Other spreadsheets to consider:

VisiCalc — 1981 version of the classic DOS spreadsheet.

[added 2000-12-03]

Placed here primarily because of its historical significance, the 1981 PC version of VisiCalc is now being distributed by one of its co-authors. Only the 26.8 Kb *.com file is distributed (no docs), but you can download a graphic of a 1979 Apple II reference card. Hint: to quit the program, use command "/SQY."

License note: VisiCalc is still copyrighted (Lotus) and can only be used for non-commercial purposes.

Authors: Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston (1981). Suggested by many.

See the VisiCalc Home Page for a first-person history of this archetype of modern spreadsheets.

VisiCalc download page.

Matrix — Spreadsheet that supports range selection with mouse.


[added 2000-02-27]

First impressions: Matrix is a newer DOS spreadsheet that uniquely supports selection of cell ranges using the mouse.

Remarks: Matrix (v2.0) is unusual among recent DOS programs because it requires (emulated) expanded memory. Unfortunately this requires replacing the (usually) desirable emm386.sys /NOEMS switch in config.sys with /RAM or /AUTO. Win98 users may have to explicitly add himem.sys and emm386 statements to config.sys in order to permit use of expanded memory, e.g,


/I=B000-B7FF can get you 32K of extra high memory if you're not using a monochrome adapter.

Notes: Matrix needs a faster CPU with a coprocessor/FPU (was slow on a 386/20).

Author: Michael Finnegan / Grove Business Software, Ireland (2000). Suggested by Paul Chung.

2000-02-23: v2.0.

Download (395K).

Rebel — Key-driven spreadsheet.


[added 2000-02-27]

Quick impressions: Rebel is an old (1993) spreadsheet that is not widely distributed on the Internet. Although it's probably the most complex freeware spreadsheet listed here, it isn't well suited to GUI spreadsheet users (no mouse support). Absent features include a "format number as date" function (in order to input something resembling a numeric date you have to use 3 columns for month, date, and year [see how it's done in the CHECKS.RB2 sample]). No sorting feature. Does have a simple undo command.

REBEL requires an IBM PC or compatible with at least 384K of memory, running DOS 2.1 or higher.

Author: Brad L. Smith (1993). Thanks to Torben Jørgensen for finding Rebel.

Download (178K).

SC (Spreadsheet Calculator) — Character mode spreadsheet ported from Unix.


[updated 2005-03-11]

This SC package includes two executable versions (both ~250K) – sc.exe for 16-bit DOS and OS/2 1.x, and sc32.exe for 32-bit DOS and OS/2 2.x. The 32-bit exe is for 80386+ PCs and, if you can get it to run, should handle larger data sets than the 16-bit version.

Quick feature list (incomplete):

Remarks: The 32-bit exe will not run under Windows or in another DPMI environment. (It's an EMX exe for OS/2 and DOS, should run under DOS but I haven't had success).

Author: Jeff Buhrt, et al. (1994).

1994-05-14: v6.21.

Download (508K).

Get more info, source & other files at the SC download page.

See also SLSC, next item.

SLSC — Enhanced 32-bit version of SC (Spreadsheet Calculator).


[added 2000-01-06, updated 2004-10-01]

This is another derivative of the original SC, on which the SC listed above is also based. From the docs:
SLSC is derived from the public domain spreadsheet SC. With the exception of the internal parts of the spreadsheet, much of it has been completely rewritten. In particular, the user interface is completely different and the spreadsheet is now customizable to suit different tastes. Although all of the power of SLSC is available from the keyboard, a simple menu interface modeled after a popular spreadsheet has been implemented. This interface is available by pressing the '/' key.

Supported formats (write): native SLSC, TeX and variants. Max cell grid size = 199r x 70c.

Hints: Don't forget to exract the *.rc config file when installing the program, and read it to see default key bindings. The program seems to behave oddly after loading a file from the command line (maybe it needs a path variable set?). I load files from within the program only.

32-bit DJGPP build, requires 80386+ and a DOS Protected Mode Interface (CWSDPMI or other). Also requires FPU (80387 or 80486+).

Author: Jeff Edwards (1999), based on an earlier SLSC by John E. Davis (1994). Suggested by Jean-François Buisson.

Additional docs
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©1994-2004, Richard L. Green.
This Edition ©2004-2005, Richard L. Green and Short.Stop.