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!