Seeking reverse-engineers - Apple II VisiCalc

Jules Richardson jules.richardson99 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 30 15:34:21 CST 2009


Holger Veit wrote:
>> I think typically it just gets misplaced, not lost :-)  If a company's 
>> churning out new products once in a while then it stands to reason 
>> that the older, obsolete stuff gets pushed to the back of a 
>> cupboard... then buried... then moved to a different cupboard...
> 
> I have actually seen it happen that software was discarded, rather than 
> moved to some later forgotten place. The mechanism usually works in the 
> following way:

I'd agree, but I've also found no end of stuff that doesn't get thrown out, or 
it falls into the hands of one of the employees (usually who'll think they'll 
use the media for something and then never do, burying the stuff in their 
garage or attic).

That's aside from the things that get kept privately by employees with an 
interest in a particular bit of code (usually for sentimental reasons more 
than anything).

The problem is finding this stuff - and the task is mind-boggling for a museum 
with a general interest. It's probably a bit easier if you're a private 
collector with a fairly narrow interest, but even then there's a need to be in 
the right place at the right time.

>> The picture's perhaps a bit brighter these days, because the storage 
>> is so cheap now that there's less incentive to dump things from 
>> corporate fileservers every once in a while (storing them in the 
>> aforementioned cupboard).
> 
> Storage on corporate file servers isn't cheap. You don't put 10 1TB-USB 
> drives at $100 each together and then have a serious and reliable 
> corporate storage system,  even if such USB-SANs exist.

No, but *typical* software projects don't take up that much space. Sure, there 
are still plenty of big ones out there, but for most it's not like they're 
using a vast amount of available storage - and it's probably far easier to 
just migrate the data as/when the storage gets upgraded than it is to actively 
figure out what can be dumped and what can't.

> ("What is that VISICAL.ASM junk anyway - doesn't even load at 
> all in Visual Studio 2008 although the name implies. Shred the junk!")

That's precisely why it survives, because nobody wants to stick their neck out 
and claim it to be junk, only to find 6 months or a year later that it was of 
vital importance (it's also why home computer users seem to need hundreds of 
GB of space these days, but that's another discussion :-)

cheers

Jules



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