ANYONE WHO FANCIES viewing a piece of computing history need look no further than the source code for the Apple II operating system at the website of the Computer History Museum.
The California museum's website has just added to its expanding online collection by publishing the original source code for the Apple II Microcomputer disk operating system (DOS), dating back to 1978, the era of Grease, roller skates and only three TV channels.
In those days an Apple II would have set you back a heartstopping $1,298, but for that you could have a staggering 4kB of RAM, dazzling 8-bit graphics, sound, and even game paddles - enough to play even the most advanced Pong clone.
Apple II DOS was the first iteration to include support for a disk drive. Prior to that time Apple computers had been subject to the whims of cassette recorders. The disk drive support was revolutionary, as Steve Wozniack found an elegant solution to make software do what, up to then, had required hardware to do, cutting the machine's cost to a comparatively affordable amount.
Although the Apple II came assembled, it was not capable of assembling its own programs, so DOS was created on punchcards, transferred to magnetic tape and then fed into the ROM within seven weeks.
As a result, the end user was able to bask in the simple joys of Apple BASIC. The source code is an example of early technical innovation and architectural problem solving by computer pioneers.
The museum can be visited in Mountain View, California. µ
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