In the latest Gamasutra feature, we present the latest in the 'History of Gaming Platforms' series, following analyses of the C64
and the Vectrex
by examining the history of the seminal Apple II, from its Woz-fueled genesis to classic Sierra/Origin game titles.
In this excerpt, authors Matt Barton and Bill Loguidice say that while Apple's software library was at the time "one of the largest and most vibrant," Apple's floppy drives "made software copying easier and more efficient":
A dual cassette deck could be used to duplicate cassettes, but there were few guarantees that the process wouldn't introduce errors, especially when copying from a copy. A disk copy, by contrast, was typically an exact match of the original. Various virtual and physical copy-protection schemes were introduced, but most were circumvented fairly quickly by dedicated hackers.
How big of a problem was piracy? Although several software authors claim that they stopped developing games because of rampant piracy and the subsequent loss of revenue, piracy did expose more computer owners to more games than they otherwise would have been -- this was at a time before ubiquitous demos made it easier to "try before you buy." Another benefit of this piracy is that much of the software archived today at online repositories are the cracked versions.
Since software with copy protection is difficult to move from its source medium, its shelf-life is often finite. Of course, at the time, having a working copy of a game often left little reason to purchase the real thing, though many publishers such as Infocom, Origin, and SSI offered amazing packaging and in-box extras, such as cloth maps and unique trinkets. In short, the precise impact of piracy is difficult to determine, though it likely had advantages and disadvantages for the longevity of the platform.
You can now read the full feature
, with more from Barton and Loguidice on the founding, history, and classic software of the Apple II.