Author Topic: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.  (Read 9435 times)

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Offline corrado33

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Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« on: April 09, 2015, 04:03:45 pm »
I downloaded an apple 2 emulator lately, because I wanted to check something out.

Anyway, I booted up a few programs that came with the emulator package, and a few of them started out with something similar to what I have quoted below.

Quote
Please make a copy and distribute this software to all of your friends. If your friends like it and use it often, have them register the software by sending X dollars and *something* to *somewhere.* They will receive a brand new disk and a t-shirt. Then, you will receive X dollars back from us.

Sure, it sounds like a pyramid scheme, but did it work? (It's obviously not around anymore.)

EDIT: Have attached a picture of the specific program I was talking about. A couple others have similar things, minus the pyramid scheme.

EDIT2: Yes, I realize most emulation is pretty much illegal, but in the case of extremely old technology... no one cares. (And with this program, it's not illegal at all!)
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 04:28:38 pm by corrado33 »
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2015, 05:42:04 pm »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donationware

It did work. What worked even better was Shareware, Id Software was born from shareware.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2015, 07:33:47 pm »
shareware rulez !

Captain Keen anyone ? or Dangerous Dave ?

by the way. that address still exists.. pretty nice victorian building.

Try finding 'The visual computer' for apple II and see if you can get that to run.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2015, 07:38:21 pm by free_electron »
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Offline Skimask

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2015, 07:56:32 pm »
Back in my day  :-DD ...
Had a friend that would hook up with other guys up in Minneapolis/St.Paul and grab all the latest hacked games, etc. and bring it back to us in southern Minnesota, where we all enjoyed the fruits of their labor.  Come to think of it, back in those days, I don't think I ever saw software for Apple 2 in retail packaging anywhere.  Then again, I'm from small town USA.
I didn't take it apart.
I turned it on.

The only stupid question is, well, most of them...

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Offline rdl

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2015, 08:12:04 pm »
Obviously spell checkers weren't very common in 1985.
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2015, 09:45:40 pm »
@16:10




btw anyone know what happened to lovely Wendy Woods?
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Offline AG6QR

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2015, 10:05:12 pm »
The number of great successes that allowed software developers to retire in luxury based on donationware/shareware was pretty small.  But it often worked well enough for a lone hobbyist who wanted to cheaply distribute a program, and make enough off of it to support his computing hobby.

One success was PKZip.  It was shareware, and it was so useful that almost everyone had it.  I don't know what percentage of people paid for it, but it was enough to make PKWare a success.  Sadly, Phil Katz, the programmer whose initials were incorporated into PKZip's name, died in 2000 at age 37, due to effects of chronic alcoholism.

There's still a fair amount of software that is distributed for free, asking for donations to license it.  Sometimes a paid license enables extra features, or at least disables a "nag screen".

But with today's ubiquitous Internet connectivity, you don't often find software that contains a plea to "Please make copies and share them with all your friends".  We forget how hard it was to distribute software without any Internet infrastructure.  Dial-up BBS systems were slow, and not so well connected to one another.  Getting something from a BBS in another state at 300 baud would often mean a very expensive long-distance phone call.  Today, the software author just puts the latest copy of the software up on a website, and lets everyone grab it from that one spot.
 

Offline corrado33

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2015, 12:00:11 am »
But with today's ubiquitous Internet connectivity, you don't often find software that contains a plea to "Please make copies and share them with all your friends".  We forget how hard it was to distribute software without any Internet infrastructure.  Dial-up BBS systems were slow, and not so well connected to one another.  Getting something from a BBS in another state at 300 baud would often mean a very expensive long-distance phone call.  Today, the software author just puts the latest copy of the software up on a website, and lets everyone grab it from that one spot.

Good info! I know this is a foolhardy wish, but I think it would have been interesting to grow up about 5 years before I did. I starting getting interested in computers when 28k modems were getting popular, so basically I've always been "internet connected."

I think it would have been cool to live in an electronics world where everyone who had a computer had to know how to use a command line to make it work.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2015, 12:10:16 am by corrado33 »
 

Offline helius

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2015, 12:36:25 am »
I think it would have been cool to live in an electronics world where everyone who had a computer had to know how to use a command line to make it work.
On the flip side of that coin, today anyone who wants to can pick up a Linux livecd or flash drive and use a real, powerful command-line system on just about any current computer. In the dark ages, using Unix required either several thousand dollars (for Xenix, Unixware, BSDI), or dial-up access to a university mainframe. It's true that DOS users "had to know a command line", but the capabilities that gave you were very primitive. In some cases it meant low-level hardware access (using DEBUG.COM for example), but even that was cumbersome.
 

Online CatalinaWOW

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2015, 02:13:44 am »
There were many things that occurred in that pre-internet world.  Some were fun and cool.  Most were just annoying.

Fun.  Magnetic core memory.  Doesn't lose machine state with loss of power.  But, 10K words of this memory was physically huge and about the largest common amount.

Fun and annoying.  Multiplication and division by table lookup in "hidden" parts of the core.  Think of the fun of modifying these tables.

Annoying.  Logging into a time-share system on a 300 baud modem.  Even command line is slow at that rate.  Remember that 300 baud is the highest possible data transfer rate when no errors in transmission occur.  With acoustic modems, primitive error correcting codes and poorly maintained lines real baud rates could be half or less of that.

Annoying.  Punching decks of cards (or a roll of paper tape) on a punch machine, then submitting them at the input window of a computing center and sitting back for a few hours to wait for the results - either error messages or output which might be a printout or another deck of cards which could be taken to a printer somewhere and run through.  In the middle of this era a breakthrough technology called Assembly Language became available, which used "human friendly" three letter codes for machine operations.  Late night humor identified assembly codes such as LCC (load and chew cards).

Annoying.  Building your first home computer, which has to be programmed by flipping switches for each word of machine code.  Good news.  Only 256 words of memory so not THAT much switch flipping.  Bad news.  Just what can you do useful with that?  Fortunately you could upgrade memory to 56K words, and add I/O and the machine would still cost a little less than a new compact car.  Remember that five years later the Apple II was still equal to a fourth of a small car and didn't include the low resolution monitor.
 

Offline boffin

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2015, 03:05:20 am »
One success was PKZip.  It was shareware, and it was so useful that almost everyone had it.  I don't know what percentage of people paid for it, but it was enough to make PKWare a success.  Sadly, Phil Katz, the programmer whose initials were incorporated into PKZip's name, died in 2000 at age 37, due to effects of chronic alcoholism.

Success?  Phil took someone else's code to create the PKARC/PKXARC programs, and it wasn't freeware like the original, but technically licensed that you had to pay for.  SEA (System Enhancement Associates) who had written the original ARC sued PKWare and won; with PKWare forced to pay damages, stop selling anything that read/wrote ARC format, etc etc.  So Phil found another compression scheme Shannon-fano (ZIP IMPLODE), and then another (Phil's own combination of the widely available LZ77 + huffman) and made PKZIP (which still wasn't free software)

Anyway, he tried to profit on the back of someone else (Thom Henderson/SEA) creating something that wasn't free based on something that was free for personal use.

Strikes me as the very opposite of 'success'; sounds more like a$$hole in my world.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARC_%28file_format%29#Lawsuits
 

Online Alex Eisenhut

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2015, 04:33:35 am »
Never underestimate the bandwidth of a shoebox filled with C64 5.25" floppies.
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Online EEVblog

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2015, 06:04:41 am »
Tons of people set up businesses copying disks and selling Shareware. You'd get whole page ads in magazines listing all the programs. Some charged per program, others would charge per disk as many programs as you could fit.
Of course you were't buying the program, as it was free, you paid for the service of copying onto the disk and postage before the days on the internet. More clued up people just downloaded them from BBS's.
Computer magazine would have the latest Shareware programs on a disk that came with the mag.
 

Online dexters_lab

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2015, 08:03:46 am »
indeed, very popular for the 16 bit market... Atari/Commodore mags were full of shareware stores. Essential when you couldn't find what you wanted on a BBS service or was too big to download. I even wrote one of my own donationware apps for the Atari ST/TT back in the day.

I registered and donated to many shareware authors over the time. I think i am the only person in the world who seems to have bought the full version of Doom in 1993/4 rather than playing a ripped off version, first episode was shareware
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Online Kjelt

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2015, 08:18:56 am »
More clued up people just downloaded them from BBS's.
Even so with 300 baud and due to the start/stop bits 80% efficiency you got 30 bytes per second, for a 360kB floppy that took almost 4 hours  :=\
I remember the good old times with my self build 300 baud modem dialing in, searching the board finally ending up selecting a nice (you know what if your 16 yo) picture  ;) of 30kB and then after 15 minutes my father was asking who I was calling since he had to use the phone.
Restart of a download was not implemented in those days, so I ended up downloading my stuff after midnight when my parents were asleep  :-DD
 

Online T3sl4co1l

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #15 on: April 10, 2015, 08:25:14 am »
Never underestimate the bandwidth of a shoebox filled with C64 5.25" floppies.

The average high speed user can download that in a few minutes (heck, you might spend a few minutes just reading one of those disks on the original hardware!), but the same remains generally true of current media (Blu-Ray, MicroSD).

I never had to deal with 300 baud, but I remember the huge step-up that was 9600 over the lowly 2400.  And the huge step backwards that was the "Winmodem"! :palm:

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Online dexters_lab

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #16 on: April 10, 2015, 09:00:20 am »
More clued up people just downloaded them from BBS's.
Even so with 300 baud and due to the start/stop bits 80% efficiency you got 30 bytes per second, for a 360kB floppy that took almost 4 hours  :=\
I remember the good old times with my self build 300 baud modem dialing in, searching the board finally ending up selecting a nice (you know what if your 16 yo) picture  ;) of 30kB and then after 15 minutes my father was asking who I was calling since he had to use the phone.
Restart of a download was not implemented in those days, so I ended up downloading my stuff after midnight when my parents were asleep  :-DD

i think my first modem was a "12/75" or 1200bps down and 75bps up, i dont recall ever having a 300/300 baud modem. Funny how there was always a certain amount of street-cred you had depending on the make and speed of your modem!

Was happy days when ZMODEM became popular with restartable downloads, but by then i was getting on the internet for the first time through work and discovered FTP sites and Usenet so dialling up to a BBS stopped for me. Though i do remember many BBS sites had an internet gateways through telnet.
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Offline Corporate666

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #17 on: April 10, 2015, 11:53:19 am »
I find it amazing to think back at companies, products and services that were "big" back in the day.  On one hand, I think it was probably easier to be successful because there was no social media, no internet, no forums.  A lot of companies got huge just by advertising in the right magazine... remember "Computer Shopper"?  IIRC, that's what made Dell huge... they sold tens of millions of those machines in their first year just by magazine advertising.

We had a chain of stores around called Unitech that sold computer parts, and they had boxes of shareware that they sold for the price of the disk, or you could bring your own disk and use the computer in their store to copy the programs and they'd charge you a small fee for that.   Back then, an individual developer had a realistic chance of developing a piece of software that could enjoy wide commercial success.  Today, software projects are so huge that, IMO, unless you manage to catch the leading edge of a fad, indy developers can't realistically hope to succeed alone. 

It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done.
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #18 on: April 10, 2015, 12:18:20 pm »
Even so with 300 baud and due to the start/stop bits 80% efficiency you got 30 bytes per second, for a 360kB floppy that took almost 4 hours  :=\

I remember watching the bytes transferred counter go up double digit numbers, good times  ;D

Quote
Restart of a download was not implemented in those days, so I ended up downloading my stuff after midnight when my parents were asleep  :-DD

I saved up to get my own phone line  :-+
Wow, I just looked up my old number from 20 years ago and my old business name is still listed!  :o
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2015, 12:22:39 pm »
i think my first modem was a "12/75" or 1200bps down and 75bps up, i dont recall ever having a 300/300 baud modem. Funny how there was always a certain amount of street-cred you had depending on the make and speed of your modem!

I had a Netcomm Trailblazer at one point, that was STUNNING technology for its time and the street cred was huge! A real chick magnet that thing  ;D
 

Offline boffin

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2015, 02:40:48 pm »
Dave; the cool kids had USRobotics HST modems, with MNP5 error correction. 

More seriously as part of my job, I had pretty much one of each including obscure stuff like CompuCom modems. USR Hst, the early Supras, ATI (yes they made modems) etc etc.   I'm dating myself here, but I actually worked/wrote code for a company that made BBS software.

There were plenty of strange things in the day, for example the guy that ran Toronto's biggest BBS actually tried to trademark the word "Shareware" in order to corner the market; the whole PK stealing other people's code etc etc.  Strangely there were a lot of suicides/self inflicted deaths in the BBS world, including PK; the guy that wrote PCBoard; and the guy that wrote Galacticomm MajorBBS a
 

Offline Corporate666

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2015, 05:03:39 pm »
I had a Netcomm Trailblazer at one point, that was STUNNING technology for its time and the street cred was huge! A real chick magnet that thing  ;D

I had a Hayes Smartmodem - the cool one with the silver anodized case.  It was top of the line in 1988 and the MSRP was $1,200.. but it was the latest super fast 9600 baud version that supported v.32, so it was worth every penny.

It's not always the most popular person who gets the job done.
 

Online Alex Eisenhut

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2015, 05:48:43 pm »
Never underestimate the bandwidth of a shoebox filled with C64 5.25" floppies.

The average high speed user can download that in a few minutes (heck, you might spend a few minutes just reading one of those disks on the original hardware!), but the same remains generally true of current media (Blu-Ray, MicroSD).

I never had to deal with 300 baud, but I remember the huge step-up that was 9600 over the lowly 2400.  And the huge step backwards that was the "Winmodem"! :palm:

Tim

Not when I was in high school. Just *having* a floppy disk was an adventure in itself, the only store within walking distance was Radio Shack and the disk must have cost me a fortune because I still have it.

The drive itself was also expensive. My C64 was actually built from a VIC-20 case and keyboard, and a PET4064 "educator" C64 motherboard I got at a surplus place and I changed a few things to make it into a 64. I had to add the sound chip and replace the Kernal or BASIC ROM since it had different boot colors AFAIR.

Finally someone opened a floppy wholesaler and there was a Dunkin Donuts across the street, I noticed the box of 12 donuts made a perfect container.

As for shareware, there was a store called Crazy Irving that would package up the software and sell the disks. Great fun, with their dot-matrix produced labels.

This is when they went upscale a bit



*Except AC/DC adapters on eBay. Avoid them all!
 

Online Kjelt

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Re: Software distribution in the days of the Apple 2.
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2015, 07:33:22 am »
This is when they went upscale a bit
Funny to hear french in a canadian movie with $ signs, never realized it is so common there.
 


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