Home
Home
Education
WozScape
All the Macintosh links you need!
Woz answers your letters
Conventions, past and present.
Friends of Woz
Some businesses
Unuson
Festivals and Fun
See Woz, if he's home.
 
Letters-General Questions Answered  

 

 

Comment from E-mail:
As yet another engineer working in Silicon Valley, it seems that with all the Internet startups and dot-com millionaires, no-one is out to create exciting, innovative products and technologies here anymore. Instead of "How can I change the world?", it's "How can I go IPO ASAP and get rich quick?" I see PhD's leaving high-tech to work on yet another search engine. I see folks reading The Wall Street Journal who used to read Byte. Do you see this trend worsening? Can hi-tech get out of this dot-com mind-set and back to innovation? Will there ever be anything close to a technical revolution again?
Woz:
I do see this trend increasing. A lot of the problem is that small guys with something attractive have a much more difficult time getting recognized. This is largely due to the spending of large companies, ensuring that their territory is not easily eaten into. You have a good point. Where are the engineers and scientists these days? All we hear about are CEO's. Typically they attended business schools and weren't inspired by science fiction.

Comment from E-mail:
I have a question. In the book Cyber shock I read about companies that allow hackers to "Legally" break into their systems to test company defenses against hackers. These companies offer incentives and it has been a very successful endeavor. I am not a hacker, not even a script kiddie, but it sound interesting and its legal. I have no interest in the illegal stuff. Do you know where I might find information on this topic, what companies do this kind of thing?
Woz:
I don't know of companies that do this sort of thing. I don't know if I would do this for a company of mine. But if I did I'd offer small rewards and recognition. The only rule on breaking in is that anything done can be undone (nothing is permanently clobbered). I found my students to always adhere to this rule when I offered them hacking challenges in class.

Comment from E-mail:
We are completing a piece of coursework about development of operating systems and PC. We have found out how CP/M led to MS-DOS but have been unable to discover what operating system you initially used with Apple I,II, etc. Obviously the GUI was 'invented'but what was used prior to this and when did Mac-OS begin. We have spent ages trying to track this down as we would like to produce some form of 'web report' showing links between different Operating Systems. The report has to be in in a fortnight!! Many thanks, Sue Turton and Karen Dixon
Woz:
CPM existed and was quite cryptic and unfriendly. It was like the computer world I'd grown up with and I wanted something different, a computer with simple direct access to what I needed.

The Apple I had no random access mass media, at first or ever. It had nothing that could be called an OS. The included PROM (256 bytes) only allowed you to enter data into RAM, examine RAM, and run programs. It allowed you to do what the messy switches did on other computer front panels, but from a human keyboard.

When you bought a cassette tape interface, this came with a 256 byte PROM that allowed you to read in programs and save them. The program to read in was my BASIC. It had commands to read and write data as well, using the casette tape interface. There was no centralized OS function at all, except for this tiny bit that was bundled into the BASIC.

The Apple ][ had no random access mass media at first, only a built in cassette tape interface. But it did have 8 slots that were interchangeable for additions and extensions to the computer. You could plug in printer, serial, and modem interfaces, and others could come about.

Some mini-OS functionality was coded into the 8K of ROMs that came with this computer. Access to these functions was also carried in commands of my BASIC, which was the majority of the ROMs. The text input and output streams could be directed by the user to any of the 8 slots. Device commands could then be passed in the text stream. A user could switch these streams directly by typing BASIC commands, or a program could call appropriate subroutines or set global system variables.

Some intelligence had to be placed on the devices, to recognize streaming text commands. We included the driver functionality in small ROMs on the devices to recognize commands. But I also allocated a couple of chunks of RAM space to each slot, 256 addresses for the ROM (which could be extended by banking), 2048 address common to all slots and shared, and 16 addresses for each slot to actually control special hardware functions of the card. Thus a programmer could circumvent the mini-OS and just control a card directly.

This mini-OS actually worked pretty nicely. You could place a printer in slot 1 and activate it with "PR #1", or place it in slot 2 and use "PR #2". It was true plug-n-play, as the driver was in ROM on the card that you used for whatever your device. So the driver was installed along with the printer or modem or whatever. The mini OS didn't have to keep track of drivers. The user manually selected a device by slot number.

Components and RAM were so expensive then (latter 1970's) that a truly affordable complete (and good) computer couldn't spare much. Of the first few personal computers, only the Apple ][ was expandable enough to have even enough RAM for a true floppy disk OS. Also, the Apple ][ slots allowed a floppy disk to be installed. This was not the case for the Radio Shack TRS-80 or the Commodore PET. You could even install multiple floppy disk drives in multiple slots. When you told the computer to print to that slot, it booted our more complete OS from the floppy that was installed.

The sort of cryptic DOS commands like "C:/" were similar to those in CP/M. We always avoided this at Apple. So DOS seemed much more like an extension or modern version of CP/M than our stuff. We were just too original.



Back

to General Letters Contents Page

Home | WozCam | Education | WozScape | Unuson | MacLinks | Friends | Business | Conventions | Festivals

©Unuson Corp. 2002 | Los Gatos, California | v3.0 | Last Updated:June 16, 2000  
Design by Al Luckow

Made With macintosh