Software preservation (Was: Seeking reverse-engineers - Apple II VisiCalc)
mc at media.mit.edu
Thu Jan 29 12:54:42 CST 2009
Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 09:07:20 -0600
From: John Foust <jfoust at threedee.com>
Subject: Re: Seeking reverse-engineers - Apple II VisiCalc
To: cctalk at classiccmp.org
Message-ID: <188.8.131.52.2.20090129085638.05e74420 at mail.threedee.com>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
At 01:00 PM 1/28/2009, Tim McNerney wrote:
> >I am looking for volunteers to help reverse-engineer and document Apple II VisiCalc.
> >I have three versions of the Apple II software. I know one of them still boots (1983?)
> >and have some confidence that the other two versions (1979 and 1981) work too.
> >I have been in contact with both Bob Frankston and Dan Bricklin.
> >Of course you ask, well then why do you need volunteers?
> >The answer is because no one can find the sources.
No matter how many times I hear stories like this, or lived through
stories like this, I still shake my head and can't understand how the
source code gets lost. All these corporations, all the lawsuits, all
the programmers, all the marketing money, and so often no one, NO ONE,
preserves arguably the most important bits.
In the case of Personal Software, I believe Lotus bought them to reduce
not to preserve VisiCalc. At the time, people seldom think about the
of source documents. The Intel 4004 schematics would have been lost if
it hadn't been for
some Intel engineer who realized they needed to be saved. True, there
are some engineers
who take stuff home and store it in their basement, but in the case of
the 4004, Federico
Faggin couldn't hold on to any schematics when he left Intel because he
was going off to
found Zilog and had to protect himself legally. The problem with
packrats is that, even
when you are unusually organized, like Bob Frankston, you still end up
with boxes that
are mis-labeled. Even Hewlett Packard has thrown out some important
documentation. When the calculator division moved from Santa Clara to
the threw out dumpsters full of drawings on their very first RPN
calculator, the 9100.
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