Check Out The Source Code For The Apple II Operating System


Apple’s never been a particularly vocal advocate of open source, but thanks to a collaboration between two vintage computer museums, you can now delve into the sweet, sweet code of Apple’s first operating system.

Teaming up with the DigiBarn Computer Museum, and with Apple’s blessing, the Computer History Museum has posted the Apple II disk operating system (or DOS) to everyone to delve into for non-commercial use (although if you can make money selling this to someone, you probably deserve it).

What is this, you ask? Let’s flash back to 1977, when Steve Jobs had created a floppy disk controller for the Apple II, but needed DOS in order to access and organize the programs and data stored on those disks. Instead of doing it himself, the Woz chose to outsource the task to Paul Laughton, who worked at Shepardson Microsystems at the time. A year later in 1978, Steve Jobs pad $13,000 to Bob Shepardson, Paul Laughton’s boss, to provide Apple with a file manager and a BASIC interface and utilities that would work with the Apple II… in just seven weeks. Laughton delivered, writing Apple II’s DOS on punch cards, then assembling them into a paper tape that was then fed into the machine. Miraculously, Laughton made the deadline, and history was born.

If you’re interested in seeing what Apple’s first proper operating system looks like on the genetic level, you can download the source code from the link below.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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