söndag 3 maj 2009

The History of Microsoft Basic and The Easter Eggs

Not long ago I found an amusing and interesting webpage about the history of Microsofts early 8-bit Basic versions and the hidden "easter eggs".
The MS Basic is considered to be Microsoft's first commercial and successful product as well as the foundation for what to come to be....

The webpage also contains a timeline (or "pedegree") for 8-bit MS Basic. UK101 is not mentioned but should be identical to the OSI 600 version and so based on MS Basic 1.0, 7 digit and 32 bit floating point library.
The only known easter egg in the UK101 version of MS Basic is the message "This is the Compukit" displayed after pressing A at startup and after "Memory size?".
In some other Basic portings the names of the developers are shown (Gates, Weiland, et al).
The purpose of these easter eggs was mainly to detect piracy-copying, a problem even today! According to the story, Bill Gates himself once found a non-licensed copy using a easter egg command on a computer at a store. "I'll sue you!!!"

For fun I tried the known easter egg commands WAIT6502,1 and CLS9, but to no avail.....as expected.

A couple of questions arises:
Was UK101 Basic licensed by MS directly or through OSI?
If not, did Practical Electronics/Compshop discover a legal loophole?
I know there was a legal battle between OSI and PE, but what about the Basic ROMS?
Perhaps we'll never know or perhaps not even an issue....

See: http://www.pagetable.com/?p=43