Stolen from Apple easter egg in original ROM

Stolen from Apple easter egg in original ROM

Summary: An entry at by Andy Hertzfeld provides an interesting insight into the lengths that the company went to to protect their intellectual property.


stolen_from_apple.jpgAn entry at by Andy Hertzfeld, a key member of the original Macintosh team, provides an interesting insight into the lengths that the company went to to protect their intellectual property. In this case, the Macintosh ROM:

In 1980, a company called Franklin Computer produced a clone of the Apple II called the Franklin Ace, designed to run the same software. They copied almost every detail of the Apple II, including all of its ROM based software and all the documentation, and sold it at a lower price than Apple. We even found a place in the manual where they forgot to change "Apple" to "Ace". Apple was infuriated, and sued Franklin. They eventually won, and forced Franklin to withdraw the Ace from the market.
After the incident with Franklin, Steve Jobs decided to protect the ROM by embedding a small token into it that could be displayed in court during a trial. The idea was that he would be able to enter a few keystrokes on the offending machine and display the token, proving unequivocally that the ROM was stolen from Apple.

Susan Kare designed the "Stolen (c) Apple" icon (pictured above) and Steve Capps compressed the icon and wrote a routine to decompress and display the icon on screen. The team hid the little nugget of code in the "middle of some data tables, so it would be hard to spot when disassembling the ROM."

To display the icon you have to enter the debugger on an original Macintosh and enter a secret 6-digit hex address, which according to the comments on involves pressing the programmer switch and entering G 40E118.

The secret Apple ROM icon reminds me of the technique that cartographers use to protect their maps by adding fake streets, so that if anyone copies their work, they can easily prove it in court. If you've got an original Mac 128k around give it a shot and post your screen shots in the Talkback comments below.

What's your favorite Apple easter egg?

Topic: Apple

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  • Moof!

  • Did they ever use it?

    I'd be interested to know if they ever had to use it in court.

    But am I not correct that most of the original Mac team was gone
    within a couple of years from Apple? So who would have known
    it was even there.

    The first computers in my high school were Franklins, and they
    were added to the library. You had to demonostrate your
    proficiency with them to the math teacher in charge of them
    before you could even touch them.

    A year later (around 1984) our school redeemed itself by
    creating an entire lab, half filled with Apple IIe's and half filled
    with TRS-80 Model 4's. They weren't sure which computer would
    become the "standard," so they tried to hedge their bets by
    buying both. Whoops...
  • I think one with all of the old crew in front of Apple

    There was a easter egg in the "About the system" for OS 9 which there was a small color photograph of the old Apple HQ.
  • Favorite Easter Egg

    In one revision of Speech recognition (Classic OS), I think 1.2...

    Ask: "Computer, are there any easter eggs?"
    Mac: "If there were, do you think I would tell you"
  • The ULTIMATE Apple Easter Egg...

    had to be the game hidden in the original PCI Macs under
    System 7.5.2. As I recall, the key to accessing it was to type
    "secret about box" in NotePad and then drag that phrase to the
    desktop. This would bring up a full screen color image of the
    apple campus with a flag-pole prominent in the foreground. The
    flag had a lizard on it, or an apple logo (there were actually eggs
    within this egg to be found, and cheat sheet lists of them on the
    'net) and the game was to manipulate the mouse properly to
    wave the flag and ultimately rip it from the pole to flutter to the
    ground. It was really somewhat asstounding that all of this was
    packed into an easter egg, particularly when seen for the first

  • phvabhc 39 ncx

    nleugx,fcixnejz20, dcndx.