[SIGCIS-Members] Apple II DOS question

Laine Nooney laine.nooney at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 10:44:46 PST 2021

Hi all,

Thanks for all the responses that have come both on and off list. Michael,
your observation seems to sync with more feedback I've been getting on this
question, which is to say there was never a prohibition from Apple against
putting DOS on commercial disks, so it was something lots of
developers/publishers simply did, rather than a decision made by Apple.
I've also gotten a lot of good feedback on other, non-DOS related modes of
copy protection, so this will generally help me refine (though simplify) my
technical explanations.

Happy for any other Intel folks want to send along


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

On Wed, Feb 24, 2021 at 9:17 PM MikeWillegal <mike at willegal.net> wrote:

> 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.
> regards,
> 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
> -Probably typed by voice recognition, so please cherish typos
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