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MacPaint source code donated to the Computer History Museum

Apple has donated MacPaint source code to the Computer History Museum. Justin James encourages TechRepublic members to check out the amazing code.

The groundbreaking application MacPaint is in the same league as Lotus 1-2-3 and WordStar; these applications are credited for some of the most fundamental innovations and concepts in a software category. Now, Apple has released the source code to MacPaint to the Computer History Museum.

You should check out this amazing source code; the application is written in a mere 5,822 lines of Pascal and 3,583 lines of assembler. That is less code than a code generator will create to create a proxy class for a moderately complex Web service, for example. I have single classes with less code than that (some things just can't be refactored out).

The story behind how the code ended up at the Computer History Museum is rather interesting. Don Knuth wanted to include the source code in The Art of Programming. When he mentioned it in 2004, everyone he spoke with at Apple agreed, but there were setbacks due to a series of mishaps -- some legal and some technical (including the matter of finding a copy of the code, and then trying to get it off an ancient floppy disk format). For more details, read this Businessweek article.

And hey, if the Computer History Museum ever thinks I am worthy for inclusion, I still have the source code for a Quick BASIC "slot machine" app I wrote in high school, complete with scaling, rotating graphics, and sound!



Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.


Wow. I assume it was all written by Bill Atkinson. When I was at Apple, back in the Apple ][ through Lisa days (Burrell Smith was just starting to work on the early tinkerings for the first Mac), Bill championed bringing UCSD Pascal in to Apple - I helped out a bit on the graphics code. Since this was mostly Pascal, it sure sounds like Bill's baby to me. I know Randy Wigginton left Apple to start his own business (as did I), and wrote Mac Write to complement Paint. I was told he was paid a cool million to develop it. Really good money for those days, and of course, it really did make the Mac worth having, along with Paint. When I was at Mouse Systems, designing their next gen optical mouse, we used the Mac Paint as a launching point for our own PC Paint - an award winning, first color mouse-based paint program for the PC. We bundled it with our optical mouse, and boy did that start a revolution, as well as a head-head battle against Microsoft for mouse/software dominance. Those were heady days. -CSM


which is another 17101 lines of assembler. FYI - Check out moveFix.p in the QuickDraw code for a good laugh.

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