[SIGCIS-Members] Apple II DOS question

Laine Nooney laine.nooney at gmail.com
Wed Feb 24 12:14:11 PST 2021

Hi all,

Some of you may know, I've been spending my pandemic days chipping away at
a software history of the Apple II (under contract with U of Chicago,
hopefully forthcoming… 2023?). Anyway, I finally had a question that
neither I nor my extended network of retro computing enthusiasts seems to
be able to answer--and was wondering if anyone at SIGCIS might have some
insight here.

I'm looking for any information available on when Apple began permitting
publishers/developers to put DOS on the floppy disks of their own products,
thus allowing programs to boot without need for a System Master. My
understanding is that this development happened either with DOS 3.2 or DOS
3.3, but I can't actually verify when this occurred at all.

The reason this is coming up is because I'm currently working on a chapter
focused on the disk copy program *Locksmith* and copy protection. Allowing
developers to put DOS on their commercial disks would seem to be an
extremely important development for creating increasingly sophisticated
copy protection schemes. Since DOS controlled how data on a disk was
read, all devs/publishers had to do to create an uncopyable disk was store
the data to the disk in an unconventional format, and then ensure they
modified the DOS on their disk to be able to read it. While the disk would
run just fine, it couldn't be copied by the System Master
COPY/COPYA subroutines, which assumed a standard organization for data on
the disk. So while not intended to allow developers to enhance their copy
protection schemes, that was certainly one of the knock on effects of
allowing DOS on disk.

Cheers to anyone who followed any of that. If anyone has a sense of how
this industry level transition came about, or is even just certain of which
DOS version it can be attributed to, I'd be incredibly grateful.


Laine Nooney <http://www.lainenooney.com/>

Assistant Professor |  MCC <http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/mcc/> @ NYU
<http://www.nyu.edu/>  | she/they

-Need to make an appt? Click, don't email: https://bit.ly/2GIHuK0
-Probably typed by voice recognition, so please cherish typos
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