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MS-DOS Kermit for DOS and Windows 3.x

This page updated: Tue Sep 13 07:19:11 2022

Now online: Using MS-DOS Kermit 2nd Edition (PDF) (more info)
Effective 1 July 2011, MS-DOS Kermit should be considered Open Source software under the Revised 3-Clause BSD License, even though the software itself and associated files may carry the old copyright and licensing information. For further information CLICK HERE.

MS-DOS Kermit is not designed or intended for use in Windows 95, 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 or later, or IBM OS/2. It can't even be started on Windows 10 ("This app can't run on your PC"). Since 1995, the recommended and native Kermit software for these operating systems has been Kermit 95, soon to be replaced (as of September 2020) by C-Kermit 10.0 for Windows.

MS-DOS Kermit 3.14 is a compact and efficient communications software package for IBM PCs and compatibles with MS-DOS or PC-DOS offering a wide range of faithful text and graphics terminal emulations, an astonishing variety of serial and network communication methods, a vast array of international character-set conversions, exceptionally flexible and powerful key mapping, a powerful, easy-to-use script programming language, and advanced Kermit file transfer.

MS-DOS Kermit supports communication through serial ports, a wide variety of local networking methods (like NetBIOS, BAPI, DECnet, NASI, SuperLAT, TELAPI, and TES, plus it has its own built-in TCP/IP stack and Telnet client. Modem dialing is accomplished with modem-specific dialing scripts

It includes faithful emulation of the DEC VT52,100,102,220,320 terminals; ANSI, Heath-19, Wyse50, various Data General DASHER models, and the Tektronix 4010 Graphics terminal, as well as DG terminals in graphics mode.

MS-DOS Kermit runs directly under DOS 2.0 and later and under Microsoft Windows 3.11 or earlier. MS-DOS Kermit is not supported in Windows 95 and later but at least it was runnable and somewhat usable in earlier Windows versions. But in Windows 10 it does not even start; Windows says "This app can't run on your PC".

Using MS-DOS Kermit book MS-DOS Kermit 3.14 is packaged on diskette with the book Using MS-DOS Kermit by Christine M. Gianone, Digital Press (1992)

NOTE (10 February 2022): You can also find all the MS-DOS Kermit Zip files here, in case you have trouble downloading them from Columbia:


MS-DOS Kermit Version 3.14

MS-DOS Kermit 3.14, 21 May 1995, is the most recent complete distribution. If you don't have MS-DOS Kermit at all, begin by downloading version 3.14:

MS-DOS Kermit Version 3.15

MS-DOS Kermit 3.15, 15 September 1997, issued as an update to version 3.14 (you can install this on top of version 3.14): The source code for MS-DOS Kermit is in the http://www.columbia.edu/kermit/archivefiles/mskermit.html directory. The filenames all start with "ms" and end with ".asm", ".h" and ".c". For convenience, the source code for the IBM PC version of MS-DOS Kermit is also available in a ZIP file:

MS-DOS Kermit Version 3.16

MS-DOS Kermit 3.16 is an even later release with a lot of improvements in the script language to make it almost the same as that of C-Kermit and Kermit 95. You can install this one on top of 3.14 or 3.15:

Also see:

A guide to "bootstrapping" MS-Kermit when you don't have it on a diskette and your PC is not on a network.

TCOMTXT, a tiny bootstrapping program that can be used to load programs onto a DOS PC through the serial port starting with only a diskette with the minimum system files.


MS-DOS Kermit was one of the original Kermit programs, first released in 1982, shortly after the IBM PC was announced, following just behind the Kermit programs for the DECSYSTEM-20, CP/M-80, and the IBM mainframe. It was written in response to overwhelming demand to make this PC, which was very soon to dominate the universe, communicate with other kinds of computers, including IBM's own (a service that not even IBM could offer at the time).

The prototype was done by Bill Catchings of the Kermit project in a single EMACS editing session (the early pre-GNU TECO-based EMACS) using macros to convert his CP/M-80 Kermit from 8080 assembly language to Intel 8088 assembler. "PC Kermit", as it was called at first, was turned over to Daphne Tzoar who polished it sufficiently for general use and maintained it for some time, and later to Jeff Damens who produced several major new releases through version 2.28. There were separate releases for the IBM PC, the DEC Rainbow, the HP-150, the Heath-Zenith 100, the Victor 9000, the NEC APC, and many other of the DOS machines of mid-1980s that were not code- or disk-compatible with each other.

In 1985 MS-DOS Kermit was taken over by Professor Joe R. Doupnik of Utah State University, who added more improvements than can be listed in a short web page, but most notable among them:

  • A script programming language compatible with that of C-Kermit.
  • VT100, 220, and 320 terminal emulation; "ANSI" emulation for BBSs; Wyse50, Data General DASHER (under contract with DG), and Tektronix graphics terminal emulation, making MS-DOS Kermit the only Kermit program ever to emulate any graphics terminal, and in fact it emulated two since the DASHER was also a graphics terminal.
  • Sliding Windows transport protocol for file transfers, which in itself required hardware-specific memory management support for acquiring the necessary buffer space on the earlier PC generations.
  • Conversion of international character sets in both terminal emulation and file transfer, including Russian and Hebrew (with right-to-left screen-writing support).
  • Most notably of all, a full TCP/IP network stack built in to MS-DOS Kermit itself, supporting DNS, BOOTP, and DHCP connections via Ethernet, SLIP, or PPP, and over that the ARPANET TELNET protocol. Plus support for many other long-forgotten PC networking methods: 3COM, Novell, NetBIOS, LAT, etc. Among these were IBM's LANACS, a product that included MS-DOS Kermit under license to the Kermit Project, and AT&T STARLAN, which also included a licensed copy of MS-DOS Kermit.
All this in a program that fit on a floppy disk, together with its documentation and supporting files (dialing scripts, keymaps, fonts for Hebrew and Cyrillic, utilities, packet drivers, and so on). For about 15 years, MS-DOS Kermit was mass-market software, found on practically every desktop PC on earth. New releases were big news in the trade press. The manual, Using MS-DOS Kermit, by Christine M. Gianone of the Kermit Project, is a masterpiece of user-friendly technical writing, and went through two best-selling editions, was also published in German and in French, and was also the basis for a Japanese edition. MS-DOS Kermit was so popular in the USSR and Eastern Europe (because of its ability to do Cyrillic terminal emulation) that an International Kermit Conference in Moscow in 1989 was attended by representatives of 35 countries.

MS-DOS Kermit's popularity waned as DOS was phased out in favor of Window 95 and its successors, where MS-DOS Kermit could not be fully functional for the reasons described here. But to this day, MS-DOS Kermit remains one of Kermit's Greatest Hits.

More information:
MS-DOS Kermit / Columbia University / kermit@kermitproject.org / Updated 10 February 2022