How to get a floppy program working?

April 15, 2020 at 06:58:43
Specs: Dos 6.22, Pentium 120, 16.0MB
This is a relatively specific problem, but hopefully someone can help me. I have a program that is used to manipulate tools that were manufactured in the 1980's. The program runs from a bootable floppy disk, and runs perfectly fine on an old Compaq Pentium 120 laptop. (The laptop has Windows 95, but has dos running with it). The company that originally produced the software has been bought out multiple times, and I have been unable to find any information from them regarding this software.
The floppy is supposedly portable, but if I try to boot from it on any computer, VM, or emulator that is NOT the Compaq laptop it will not launch the program, and throws a "SYSTEM ERROR: PROGRAM TERMINATED" error. I am admittedly not very skilled with Dos since it is considerably older than I am, but I know enough to navigate around and troubleshoot things, and haven't been able to figure out the issue. Any help would be much appreciated because if this 20+ year old laptop finally dies, I will be effectively dead in the water.

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April 15, 2020 at 12:28:00
Is the program contained in a single .exe file, or what?
Any chance that you have human-readable source code?
Do you know what computer language it was written in?
Do you have the file(s) backed up on hard drive or CD?
Can you upload the files to a file sharing site such as so that we can look at them?

How does the computer communicate with the tool? RS232?
When you try to run the program on the Compaq WITHOUT
the cable connected, does the program start okay, and then
tell you that the tool is not connected? If it fails in the same
way it fails on other computers, then the problem on the other
computers might be with the cable connection not being set
up the right way. Not likely, but fairly easy to diagnose.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

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April 15, 2020 at 21:38:02
It would be a good idea if you could post back the directory of the files on the disk. That way we could see what dos files it uses and whether or not it also accesses files on the hard drive. In the directory listing there will also be 2 small text files--config.sys and autoexec.bat. Please post back their contents.

It acts like it may be a speed issue. Sometimes windows 9x or programs on it wouldn't run right on faster machines. However dos generally didn't have that problem. Programs would run faster but they would run. Is your dos 6.22 installed in a dual boot situation or do you maybe use windows 95 dos?

I'm kind of concerned you're relying on a program on a 30+ year old floppy disk. It'd be a good idea to make several copies of the disk or at least copy the files to a folder on the hard drive so you could recreate the disk if necessary. It may also be possible to install the program on the hard drive and run it from there.

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