[SIGCIS-Members] Apple II DOS question

MikeWillegal mike at willegal.net
Wed Feb 24 18:17:48 PST 2021

Hi Laine,

I have no first hand knowledge of any rights issue regarding DOS, but I purchased an Apple ][ before Disk ][ was available and was particularly excited to get my Disk ][ early on.  Based on my experience, I would like to share an observation.

My first thought when I read your message is that I can’t imagine that putting DOS on a distribution disk ever was an issue at all.  Basically almost every Apple II floppy disk that I ever saw was DOS bootable, unless it was a data only disk.  My second thought is that this is probably why you could find no documentation about the issue.

Just to be sure my memory hadn’t failed me,I checked an original floppy of some very early HAM software by Dr. Christopher Galfo, which I obtained from Dr Galfo himself, a couple of years ago.  Sure enough it was DOS bootable.  By the way, he had an unusual copy protection scheme.  He put a key part of the software on a second disc which had the software on some arbitrary tracks in the middle of the disk and the others tracks were left unformatted.  The program on the bootable disk knew where to look for the rest of program, but DOS couldn’t mount the second disk.  This scheme had no dependency on any special version of DOS.

Mike Willegal

> On Feb 24, 2021, at 3:14 PM, Laine Nooney <laine.nooney at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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
> 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 <https://bit.ly/2GIHuK0>
> -Probably typed by voice recognition, so please cherish typos
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