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Apple donates MacPaint, QuickDraw source to Computer History Museum

Apple on Tuesday released the source code for MacPaint and QuickDraw, two important pieces of programming from the early days of Apple, to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

MacPaint was a drawing program that allowed users to create images with mouse and keyboard input. Revolutionary for its time, the application can be thought of as a very early precursor to the current industry standard, Adobe Photoshop. And QuickDraw was the Macintosh library for creating bitmapped graphics, and was used by applications like MacPaint.

According to BusinessWeek, the source code donations came about because Andy Hertzfeld, a key member of the original Macintosh development team, began looking for them in January 2004. Once they were found through a former colleague who had them saved on floppy disks built for the Apple Lisa, Hertzfeld thought about posting the code on the Web, in hopes that it may be of use to others — but he feared a potential lawsuit from Apple.

So, instead, Hertzfeld decided he would attempt to convince Apple to donate the code to the Computer History Museum. But the effort hit a few snags along the way, as Nancy Heinen, a member of the museum's board of trustees and also general counsel for Apple, resigned from her position before the company gave approval to release the code.

But in January of this year, Hertzfeld, who is currently a software engineer at Google, saw Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, and told him of the roadblocks he had hit in attempting to have the source code donated. Less than a day later, Jobs asked Apple's current general counsel, Bruce Sewell, to approve the release.

Users can download the MacPaint version 1.3 source code, (five files weighing in at 67.8kb), and the QuickDraw source (37 files totaling 180.4kb) direct from the Computer History Museum. Both applications remain under a 1984 copyright to Apple, and are made available only for non-commercial use.

"The Apple Macintosh combined brilliant design in hardware and in software," the museum wrote. "The drawing program MacPaint, which was released with the computer in January of 1984, was an example of that brilliance both in what it did, and in how it was implemented.

"For those who want to see how it worked 'under the hood,' we are pleased, with the permission of Apple Inc., to make available the original program source code of MacPaint and the underlying QuickDraw graphics library."