How to Change Your Machine Type in Dosbox (Hercules, CGA, Tandy, PCJr, & VGA)

Author: Glenn Scrima

(Please do not copy this guide. However anyone is free to link to this page.)

One of the great aspects of using Dosbox as an emulator for your old games is its versatility. Although many people are using it to play some of the more recent VGA graphics based games the emulator also caters to gamers of other times and machines as well. Before we get into the technical aspect of this in relation to Dosbox though lets first stop for a brief moment and look back at all these different machines and what they actually represent.

Old PC
Hercules - This is an early display adapter that was for its time very popular. Hercules was monochromatic and as such would seem pretty limited and dull by consumers today. However it was popular for its time due to its accessible pricing, popularity in non-gaming applications and its ability with the correct drivers to display CGA graphics based games (still in a monochromatic format however). Although Hercules is by no means an ideal mode for playing games because of its monochromatic color form, it still might be your only option depending on the title you are looking to play and the title's age.

CGA - CGA, although still primitive by standards today, is a step up from the Hercules format in that it displays color. The name itself represents this important feature as CGA simply stands for Color Graphics Adapter. For this alone CGA can be seen as a superior alternative to Hercules should both options be given. CGA however is still limited by its maximum resolution and limited color palette (16 colors).

Tandy - Tandy computers were one of the early contenders in the PC's rise. It was also popular for a time because of its great sound and video options. Although good for its time it is still not as advanced as the VGA based computers that took firm hold by the early 1990's.

PCJr - Not being its own format really the PCJr is simply more of a failed attempt by IBM to make a budget oriented family friendly machine that carried a few features proprietary to the machines hardware.

VGA - VGA is a graphics format that took hold during the final years of DOS. It is superior to any of the formerly mentioned formats as it displays significantly more colors and suppurts a higher resolution as well. Of all five formats mentioned here,VGA is without a doubt the best.

How to Select Any of These Formats in Dosbox

After figuring out what type of formats your game supports the next step is to select a machine type in Dosbox. This requires only a few simple steps:

First: Open the folder where you have Dosbox installed. Find the Dosbox config file and right click on it. Then click the "open with" option and select notepad.

Dosbox config file
Next: Scroll to the section of the config file labeled [dosbox].

Dosbox section
After This: Find the setting "machine". By default it should be set to "machine=vga" so if you are using a VGA game you are all set. If you are using a game of a different format however change it to that machine type. So for CGA the setting would become "machine=cga". The five possible settings for each format has been listed below in paranthesis.

Hercules: "machine=hercules"
CGA: "machine=cga"
Tandy: "machine=tandy"
PCJr: "machine=pcjr"
VGA: "machine=vga"

Finally: After you have changed this setting to the correct machine type save and then close the config file.

Well that's all there is to it. I hope this was helpful and I'm sure a trip down memory lane for some as well. Have fun enjoying the classics!

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Free Thinker said...

Dear Glen

Is it possible to save a game state in dos box or d-fend ?...alt g doen't seem to work!


Anonymous said...

I don't understand how you can get to write with:
When I only get:
(in dosbox)
Can you help me with that??

Anonymous said...

for me it dosen't work ........and it *ùijfiu"eozhf *PISSES ME OFF
i did every thing gad damned in the dos file $
tchek two times

and still this thing / the game is charging and after a wile , blue screen black screen and then yellow ....

and in never runs ...

after i'm still in dos box but with a yellow font instead to be black