My Turn

A Modest Request of Apple Computer

A. Daniel King - 2001.09.17

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

A. Daniel King has sent the following letter (slightly edited for publication) to various parties at Apple Computer. After he posted it to one of our email lists, I asked his permission to share it with the broader Mac community.

1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014 USA

Dear __________

I have been an avid fan of Apple computers for some time. I have no fewer than five Apples here at my desk, at least five more in the closet across the room, and two more in the next room.

I often frequent Low End Mac, a group supported by donations and limited advertising. I also enjoy I do not represent these sites, and I am not affiliated with them in any manner except a common interest in the longevity of older Macintosh computers.

The purpose of this letter is to request (beg) that Apple release the binaries and the source code for the following software into the public domain:

  • All Mac OS versions before 8.x, especially those previous to 6.x.
  • All BIOS versions for all 68K-based (and earlier) computers.
  • All versions of GS/OS.
  • All versions of ProDOS.
  • All Apple-owned Apple II-series software.
  • All versions of A/UX.

Why? The reasons are many. I will only list a few.

1) Release these titles for the good of Apple, the continued worth of the Apple name, the growth of public trust and goodwill toward Apple, and for the historic preservation of a great company.

Other great companies have museums dedicated to the enjoyment of their history. Coca-Cola, BellSouth, Ford, and many others are among this list.

Apple has influenced history no less than these other entities.

2) Release these titles for the good of, oddly enough, Microsoft.

Apple needs Microsoft for obvious reasons. Microsoft benefits from Apple computers in the marketplace. The U.S. Department of Justice is delving deeply into the practices of Microsoft. The more Apple computers in use help Microsoft as a "non-monopoly." Mr. Gates still sits on Apple's Board of Directors, right?

3) Release these titles to enhance Apple's competitiveness in the rapidly changing licensing arena.

Sun Microsystems has released Star Office to the world. The Linux, GNU, Free-Binary, and Open Source movements have gained a foothold which,- though dampened by the dot-com market correction, will not soon be eliminated. The various "free" license agreements could stand as models for Apple to stand upon - while still protecting Apple's interests. Licenses such as these would allow Apple to be "bleeding-edge" - not just in the technical area, but also in the licensing arena.

4) Apple already has a viable platform for distributing this software: and The entirety of the above software could not possibly take more space than a single CD-ROM (which is also great marketing opportunity). The cost of the additional bandwidth would need consideration, but it could not be more than the current Mac OS or iMac download bandwidth. If desired, no additional paper, no shipping cost, no additional media, no physical distribution channels would be necessary!

5) Releasing these titles could not possibly harm Apple. Are they large revenue producers? Would they cut into current revenue?

I submit that there is negligible revenue produced by these titles. In addition, would a Mac Plus ever be able to cut into the iMac line? An Apple IIgs? However, this release will create more revenue in current product lines. There exist two major market segments which will be effected by this release:

  • Those individuals unable to afford an iMac and needing some sort of word processor.
  • Those who already own a high-end Macintosh as well as an extensive older Mac collection and are attempting to support those in the first group.

By helping the second group, Apple encourages the purchase of additional Apple products. This group notices the treatment it receives from a company and makes future decisions accordingly.

The market for this older software understands that it is out of warranty, that there is no official support, and so forth. The sites, such as Low End Mac and The Mac 512, are for individuals like myself. Such individuals support, report on, provide answers, and encourage the purchase and use of Apple equipment and software.

We would be jubilant to see ftp availability of the software in question. The adoption of a policy allowing individuals or user groups to redistribute software (as in the case of would be equally welcome.

However, I am troubled by information such as that presented in the article by Stuart Bell, a Methodist Minister:

where he elaborates how was relieved of the ability to distribute older software by Apple.

6) There are thousands of subscribers to the mailing lists supported by These are not your average end users. They are the longtime Apple loyalists. They write articles and are featured in major publications (like Mr. Bell and the New York Times). They write software and maintain Web sites. And they all use old Apple Computers, often directly beside their Power Mac or iMac. These users effect literally thousands of other potential buyers in their schools, churches, families, and other organizations. Usually this effect results in the purchase of Apple hardware and software. Many times this effect results in the purchase of Apple stock.

7) Finally, I ask this release for several selfish reasons. I am a computer technician currently out of work. I am attempting to support and service older computers to earn a little money. My work would be greatly facilitated if I could get to the above mentioned software legally without a fee.

In closing, I would also like to note that booting up an early compact-Mac from a 400K floppy with an old and radically different Mac OS is just plain cool.

Please consider my requests as the sentiment of many loyal, longtime Mac users.


A. Daniel King,
Apple Enthusiast Forever

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