Imagine if you were one of the original engineers for Apple’s Macintosh. Somewhere in your attic was a box stuffed with the original floppy disks for MacPaint. Andy Hertzfeld happened to have an idea: Get Apple to donate the bits. But there were some issues in getting the code to be donated.
Upon reaching out for contacts, Donna Dubinsky, a former Apple executive, got Hertzfeld in contact with Nacny Heinen, once a member of Apple’s general counsel.
Heinen, as Hertzfeld tells it, said Apple would be “delighted” to donate the MacPaint source code for the benefit of academic and historical research. Approval, he assumed would surely come right away. However, Heinen was soon caught up in Apple’s stock options scandal and resigned her position, ultimately settling an SEC lawsuit in 2008. She resigned before permission was formally given, and no fewer than six different attempts to get permission from her various successors failed, Hertzfeld said.
Finally in January of this year, Hertzfeld saw Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and told him of the stalled request for the source code. Within 24 hours, Jobs asked Apple’s new general counsel, Bruce Sewell to approve it. The files are going live today.
MacPaint is considered one of the greatest pieces of software to ever be written. If you’re interested in learning more about the donation, you can visit the Computer History Museum’s piece on the story of MacPaint (and Quickdraw) at this link.
For more information about the donation, be sure to Instapaper the Bloomberg article for later reading.