In my History editing and revision I am up to the first chapter on Languages. In reviewing additional information about Applesoft that I found, I made two discoveries that I thought were pretty interesting.
First of all: The 6502 floating-point BASIC that Apple licensed from Microsoft in 1977 was, like many products that Microsoft made in those days, marked to put the company’s name within the code. And it was done in such a way as to make it non-obvious to anyone viewing the code with a hex and ASCII dump.
With this information, I wrote an Applesoft program that will take the encoded bytes and print them out. Here is the program:
100 REM Applesoft Easter Egg Printer 110 REM 120 REM The original author of Applesoft put his company name 130 REM into the ROM, encoded from $F094-$F09D, in reverse, 140 REM and doing an EOR with $87 (10000111). 150 REM 160 DATA 173,9,3,73,135,141,9,3,96,0 170 S = 768:E = 777: REM $300-$309 180 A = 61588:B = 61597: REM $F094-$F09D 182 REM 190 REM Poke EOR routine into page 3 192 REM 200 FOR I = S TO E: READ X: POKE I,X: NEXT I 202 REM 210 REM Now get each byte from $F09D to $F094, 220 REM EOR it, and print the CHR$ of each byte. 222 REM 230 FOR I = B TO A STEP - 1 240 POKE E, PEEK (I): CALL 768: PRINT CHR$ ( PEEK (E)); 250 NEXT 260 PRINT : PRINT
If you want to just download this and run in your favorite emulator, here are disk images:
The second, and more interesting bit of trivia has to do with that fateful month, December 1993, when Apple removed the Apple IIe from the dealer price lists, effectively discontinuing the final surviving member of the Apple II family. Other than just spite on their part, finally killing the unloved elder brother in the Apple family, I never really considered the significance of that date. However, with my further reading on Applesoft, I believe I have a very good financial reason for Apple to have plugged the plug when they did.
I had originally believed the license contract with Microsoft for Applesoft was for ten years, and my History for years has stated such. I cannot find, however, any place that clearly identifies the contract length as ten years. However, in the chapter about MacBasic on Andy Hertzfeld’s excellent Folklore.org website, Hertzfeld says the original Applesoft license was for eight years, and was due to expire in September 1985. This is when Bill Gates of Microsoft could have asked for and demanded nearly anything that he wanted for a continuation of the Applesoft license. Apple still desperately needed this for the Apple IIe and IIc product lines, which were financially carrying the company, while the Macintosh was floundering. However, Gates did not demand money; what he wanted and got was MacBasic, which was a major disappointment to the Apple programmer for that product, Donn Denman.
My one supposition here (because I cannot find any absolute proof) is that the license for Applesoft that was renewed at this time was again for an eight year span. The consequences of this license were far-reaching. Had it not been for the relicensing of Applesoft, Apple could not have continued to sell the IIe and IIc as they were (since they had Applesoft in ROM), and retreating back to Wozniak’s Integer BASIC would have been extremely detrimental to the Apple II line, due to the large library of Applesoft-specific software available. Furthermore, there would have been no Apple IIGS if Applesoft had not been renewed.
Finally, if this second contract was indeed for eight years, that span of time ran from 1985 to … (drum roll, please) 1993. According to sales of computers documented on Jeremy Reimer’s blog on 11/2/09, the year 1993 was significant in that the sales of Apple II models was down to 30,000 for the year (it had been 100,000 the year before), and sales of the Macintosh were up to 3.3 million (2.5 million the year before), which was clearly up into the self-sustaining range.
A further renewal of Applesoft in 1993 would have likely been more expensive than the company would want to bother paying, and the decision to discontinue the IIe was an obvious business decision. Obvious now; a sad conclusion back then to an illustrious career for the Apple II.