A day for nostalgia

After tracking it down on a public domain mirror, and installing an emulator on my MacBook Pro, I was able to download and run the first full computer program I ever wrote: “Sector Inspector” for the Apple //e.

I wrote this program in 1989, and took eleven months to write it (seven to code, four to debug). At the time, it was one of the more complete disk editing utilities I’d seen.

It was released as Shareware (for $20), and I made a total of $60 over the course of eight years. This is the experience that turned me to freeware, actually; because I realized that coding for possible, yet unrealized profit was an unlikely aim. It’s better to know that little will come of it ahead of time, which makes it all about the coding.

Sector Inspector was written using the Merlin Prodos Assembler. It took thirteen minutes to assemble on my Apple //e, four using a friend’s hardware accelerator card. In those days I owned a 1Mb expansion card, and would do all of my development there (for the sake of speed), frequently saving to 5.25" floppies.

When finished Sector Inspector printed to 255 pages of assembly code, which was registered with the US copyright office. I tried selling it to three different software companies at the time, but only responded positively – the authors of Merlin, who said they couldn’t publish another title, but offered me a job instead. I didn’t take the job (I don’t know why), and instead released the program as Shareware.

I remember having dreams that IS would make around $10k, and with that money I would buy a color Macintosh IIfx, all the rage at the time. Those dreams never materialized, of course, and shortly afterward the //e was cancelled, Prodos 8 was cancelled, and I started working on UNIX machines. The next year I worked for Network Solutions and used that money to buy a NeXT workstation, and said goodbye to the Apple world for a very long time (until just a few months ago, when I bought a PowerBook G4).

Here is a screenshot of the splash screen on startup:


And a screenshot of the main window:


You can download an Apple //e disk image of Sector Inspector, and play around with it, or read the FEATURES document I wrote as a young 17 year old programmer.