APPLE II HISTORY
Compiled and written by Steven Weyhrich (C) Copyright 1992, Zonker Software
(PART 19 – APPLEWORKS) [v1.0 :: 10 Sep 92]
There is one program in the Apple II world that has not only showed amazing staying power in a world where this year's software hit is next year's yawn, but has also gone on to spawn a number of software companies and magazines that do nothing else but sell products for it. That program is AppleWorks. Originally released in 1984 by Apple Computer, it has gone on to become one of the best selling computer programs of all time, on any computer. Although few seem to mention the influence it has had, it is evident in the number of computer programs that have come out for the IBM and Macintosh that have the "Works" name on them (Microsoft Works, ClarisWorks, Beagle Works, and others). AppleWorks was one of the first "integrated" software packages, preceded on the Apple II only by The Incredible Jack (published by Business Solutions, 1983; see Appendix A). It put modules that performed word processing, database management, and spreadsheet calculations into a single environment, using similar commands in each module. Previous software programs specialized for each of those jobs had their own unique keyboard commands that were often very different from each other. If you went from Apple Writer to VisiCalc, or from VisiCalc to DB Master, you had to learn a completely different method of controlling the program. Furthermore, the data files created by those programs were usually not compatible with each other, making it difficult and awkward to move information directly from one program to another. AppleWorks not only created a continuity between these modules, but went a step beyond in allowing them to share data with each other via a space of memory called a "clipboard". This clipboard was part of a larger memory area called a "desktop", which could hold data for up to twelve different files at the same time, which made data sharing even more convenient. AppleWorks was written by Rupert Lissner (who later changed his name to "Robert".<1>) Its earliest incarnation was in another product sold by Apple, called QuickFile. QuickFile was an Apple III database program written in Pascal. It was flexible and easy to use, and Apple agreed to market it for Lissner in 1980. It was later translated into a version for the Apple IIe (also in Pascal) called QuickFile IIe. As a database program it was flexible and powerful, but somewhat slow due to the inherent limitations of the UCSD Pascal system that Apple favored at the time. After seeing the Office System on the Lisa computer, Lissner conceived the idea of a single program that would put word processing, database, and spreadsheet capabilities together, and run on an Apple II. It was originally called "Apple Pie", and he began work on it in 1982. Lissner took two years to complete his program, and did it entirely in assembly language to achieve better speed. He wrote versions of the program to work on both the Apple II and Apple III computers, making use of the same filetypes and data structures. Apple Pie files created on an Apple II could be used on an Apple III, and vice-versa. Apple decided to market the Apple II version themselves, and called it "AppleWorks". Lissner was left with the rights to the Apple III version. He sold those rights to Haba Systems, who brought it out under the name, "/// E-Z Pieces". That program continued to be compatible with the Apple II version up until Claris (the software company formed by Apple in 1987) upgraded AppleWorks to version 3.0 in 1989.
A STAR IS BORN
When it was finally released, AppleWorks was one of the most comprehensive programs ever written for the Apple II. Although neither of the three modules were significantly more powerful than other standalone programs, they had enough power for the average computer user to do what was needed. The memory management system was the extremely flexible, eventually being able to handle not only the basic 128K on a IIe or IIc, but also several different types of memory cards used on those computers and on the IIGS. Far larger than the memory of the 64K Apple IIe on which it would run (as a minimum memory configuration), the program was smart enough to swap in or out from disk the parts it needed to carry out its various functions. Considering that it would run on a computer whose microprocessor could address only 64K of memory at one time, the power achieved by this program is remarkable. There are few other software packages ever released that have as smoothly and seamlessly made up to two megabytes of memory on an 8-bit computer appear to be one contiguous space. AppleWorks' user interface was designed with menu bars, rather than the older command line interface (such as the one used in Applesoft, Integer BASIC, and the Monitor). Apple's own researchers had put human subjects in front of a computer keyboard to learn what was easiest to use. They designed an interface that was based on using arrow keys to move a cursor (or "bar") to different choices in a list, and then using the return key to make the selection. They also came up with the concept of the "desktop" (represented in text rather than in graphics as on the Lisa and Macintosh), and a "clipboard" for transferring data between files. Apple shared this information with Lissner, and he went on to use it in his program design.<2>
APPLE'S "PROMOTION" OF APPLEWORKS
The marketing decisions made concerning AppleWorks have not been very clear to the outside observer over the years. At the time that AppleWorks was ready for release there was a considerable amount of company money and time being spent in trying to make the Macintosh sell in the computer marketplace. Those who had the most influence at Apple were not very interested in a "simple" text-based program, when the Mac and its graphic interface was the "cutting edge" in technology. Those people believed that the Mac represented the future of Apple, and were not interested in wasting time with old Apple II technology in any form. Another problem was Apple's past record in selling software. Tom Weishaar made these comments in the November 1987 issue of Open-Apple:
"…Apple was trying very hard to get the big MS-DOS developers to work with the Macintosh. One of the reasons these developers gave for their reluctance to work on the Mac was their fear that Apple itself would compete with them– Apple, obviously, had tremendous advantages in terms of distribution and access to inside information. Apple had a reputation for developing applications software for its machines that would kill the market for similar software– Apple Writer (which was at the top of the Apple II software charts at the time) and a complete set of applications software for the Lisa being major examples. Powerful voices inside Apple wanted the company to get out of the applications software business."<3>
However, despite the concern about Apple selling AppleWorks, the decision was eventually made.
"Apple's punishment for its indiscretion was immediate– within six weeks its illegitimate child sat at the top of the Apple II best-seller list. AppleWorks achieved this without the benefits of a mother's love– it succeeded in spite of, not because of, Apple's meager marketing efforts in its behalf. Since AppleWorks was released, for example, Apple has run 26 pages of ads in A+ magazine. The word "AppleWorks" appears in those ads exactly zero times. Four of the ads show screen shots of AppleWorks… the Apple IIGS ad in the September 1987 A+ [shows a screen shot of] AppleWorks… in the gutter between the pages and is the only one of the 23 programs shown that isn't mentioned by name. This is typical of the treatment Apple's bastard child gets from its mother. [Del] Yocam, [Apple's Executive Vice-President in 1987], didn't mention it or Lissner in his birthday speech [at the 1987 AppleFest, celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Apple II], and John Sculley, Apple's president, doesn't mention it or Lissner in his… book, Odyssey."<3>
When it first appeared on the market, AppleWorks started at number 2 on Softalk's top thirty list. It moved to the number one spot in Apple sales by the following month, and stayed there for a long time. By the end of 1984, AppleWorks had moved into the number one spot in monthly retail software sales for all computers, overtaking the MS-DOS best-seller Lotus1-2-3 (a spreadsheet program with graphics and rudimentary word processing capabilities). But since it was not their beloved Macintosh that put an Apple program into first place, corporate Apple ignored the milestone. Since that time, though no longer in first place, AppleWorks has continued to do very well, despite an absence of advertising on the part of Apple, and despite later minimal advertising on the part of Claris.<3>
The first change to AppleWorks came with the released of version 1.1 in 1985, which was a modification to help overcome problems with non-Apple printers and interface cards. Later that year version 1.2 came out with the ability to use more easily even more of this non-Apple hardware. Both of these relatively minor updates were made available free of charge to existing owners of the program. Version 1.3 of AppleWorks came out in early 1986 for a $20 update fee. It provided a bit more functionality for those users who had larger capacity disk drives. Specifically, it better supported the new UniDisk 3.5 for file storage and made it possible to format disks on that device. Previous versions could load files from 3.5 disks only by specifying the ProDOS pathname; version 1.3 could access these disks with the more familiar slot and drive numbers. Also, since Apple now sold a large memory card which would plug into any free slot on the Apple IIe, this new version of AppleWorks could expand the size of the desktop to as much as 1,012K. By this time, Applied Engineering and other companies had already been doing quite well selling RAM cards for the auxiliary slot on the IIe, and had also included special software that patched previous AppleWorks versions to allow a larger desktop. They went further than Apple, however, in also allowing larger word processing and database files to be created.<4> Up through the release of AppleWorks 1.3, the only changes that had been made were bug fixes and enhancements to work better with new hardware. In September 1986, along with announcements about the new Apple IIGS, Apple released version 2.0 of AppleWorks. It now required a minimum of 128K (previous versions would work with 64K, but allowed only a 10K desktop). In exchange for the greater memory requirements, it gave users a built-in ability to do mail merge, added more functions to the spreadsheet, and supported Apple memory cards even better than v1.3. Furthermore, word processing, database, and spreadsheet files could be larger than in previous versions. Existing users were able to upgrade to v2.0 for $50, which included a completely new manual, a very reasonable price considering the extra abilities of this new version.<5> July 1987 saw one change that had an impact on future distribution of AppleWorks. Apple decided to create a separate company, called "Claris", to handle some of the popular software that they had released for their Apple II and Macintosh computers over the years. As mentioned above, products released by Apple had a tendency to be the "kiss of death" for third-companies trying to market similar programs. For example, after the outstanding success of AppleWorks, virtually no text-based work processors released for the Apple II made much of an impact on the market. Claris had the responsibility of handling AppleWorks, Apple Writer, and the various Macintosh programs that had been available from Apple for that computer. Claris has publicized AppleWorks via only three major ads since they took the product over from Apple (of course, previously AppleWorks had received no advertising space). Their first promotion, run in 1987, stated that AppleWorks2.0 had received a very unique upgrade--its own company. This was primarily a plug for Claris, of course. The second ad was rather clever. This one had a white background with a red sports car up on blocks with its wheels missing. The caption read, "There are still some Apple II users who don't have AppleWorks", suggesting that working without that program was like owning a sports car without wheels. Beagle Bros did an even more clever followup to that ad, by using another double-page spread with a white background, and four tires in the same location as the blocks in Claris' ad. Their ad read, "There are still some AppleWorks users who don't have TimeOut", suggesting that the sports car in the Claris ad was AppleWorks, and TimeOut was the wheels for that car. The third promotion run by Claris for the program was to announce the v3.0 upgrade in 1989. This one showed an old worn tennis shoe (representing the old version) and a new running show (representing the new version). A free update of AppleWorks to version 2.1 was released by Claris in September 1988. It provided IIGS users some bug fixes that made it work better on that computer, plus it was supposed to support a desktop as big as eight megabytes, if that much memory was installed. However, because of the way in which desktop memory in AppleWorks was handled, this turned out instead to be a maximum of two megabytes. No further functionality was added to AppleWorks at that time.
In 1988, while Claris was issuing its minor update to AppleWorks, they were making plans to do some major improvements to the program. Since they primarily had Macintosh programmers working for them, they first asked Robert Lissner, the original author. He wasn't much interested, since he had already made good money off the program and didn't really have the motivation for such a proposal. Claris then decided to turn to a third-party company to do the work. There were planning to hire a company called Pinpoint Publishing to do the work. Pinpoint was selling an enhancement package for AppleWorks that gave users some features that MS-DOS users had available on their computers, and seemed to be making a major effort to promote their product and stimulate more sales of AppleWorks. By this time, however, Pinpoint was financially getting into trouble, with sales of their products (AppleWorks-related and otherwise) below what was needed to support the large user support network they had set up. Consequently, they were eager for the chance to contract out to Claris for the AppleWorks upgrade. However, they planned to make very minimal changes to it, staying exclusively within Claris' specifications. During this time, Claris kept hearing from AppleWorks users who were much more loyal to Beagle Bros, who had a series of products called TimeOut. These products worked in a fashion similar to those from Pinpoint. After some complicated negotiations that nearly fell through several times, Beagle finally took on the job to do the AppleWorks project for Claris. Beagle programmers Alan Bird, Randy Brandt and Rob Renstrom worked on it for almost a year, in between a few other projects that were going on at the same time. They did their work on MacintoshII computers running the MPW (Macintosh Programmer's Workshop) cross-assembler, primarily for the sake of speed.<6> As enthusiastic AppleII programmers who also knew AppleWorks inside and out, Beagle's team added a lot of power Claris had not planned on in their original specifications. Occasionally they called on Lissner for help in understanding why certain parts of the code were written as they were, but all of the work came from these "Beagle Boys". Viewing it almost as a labor of love, they went beyond what they were asked to do, and enjoyed making AppleWorks into a program that they would want to use. Randy Brandt stated, "I think it's safe to say the AppleWorks3.0 project yielded the worst hourly rate I've ever made in AppleWorks-related programming, but it did give me a lot of insight which came in handy on future projects."<7> Additionally, they fix over one known hundred bugs in AppleWorks2.1.<8> In June 1989, Claris announced the AppleWorks3.0 upgrade at the National Educational Computing Conference in Boston. The features that were added or improved are too numerous to describe here; in brief, it added nearly all the things users had wanted the program to do. It was easier to use, it took better advantage of extra memory (going beyond the two meg limit on the IIGS), and it was easier to customize special printers to work with it. And it included a new feature that was becoming standard in many commercial word processors: A built-in spelling checker. Because of these extra features, the maximum desktop size on a standard 128K Apple II was now reduced to about 40K (down from the original 55K). Also, the program now loaded from two double-sided 5.25 disks (or a single 3.5 disk), instead of the previous one double-sided 5.25 disk. Apple had for years included registration cards with their products, both hardware and software, that was to identify the user in Apple's files as an owner of that product. Unfortunately, although they had done a good job at including those cards with everything they shipped out, they had done a somewhat less satisfactory job of actually compiling the data from those cards. Consequently, Claris really had no available information about who was and who was not a "registered" owner of AppleWorks. They decided that they would make an initial upgrade offer of $79 for customers that owned any previous version of AppleWorks (from v1.0 to v2.1), and through A2-Central magazine they even made available a special $99 offer: An A2-Central subscriber could get the program from Claris for that price, even if he could not prove previous ownership of AppleWorks.<9> Later, owners of previous versions could still upgrade for $99 if they wanted. Unhappily, Claris has since concentrated almost exclusively on Macintosh products and apparently has no plans for further updates or upgrades to AppleWorks. This is unfortunate, since there are several known bugs in the program, and Beagle Bros programmer Mark Munz eventually decided to release his own AppleWorks bug-patcher program into the public domain to correct these known problems. Rather than take the hint and make a v3.1 release to officially acknowledge and correct these problems, Claris simply waits until a customer complains about them and then directs them to Mark's Patcher program.
AppleWorks has been such a major influence in the Apple II world that the program has itself spawned a number of related products that act to enhance or expand its usability for different purposes. This is a reflection on the widespread penetration of the program, as well as the desire of Apple II users for more and better features. One of the first customization features that appeared for AppleWorks was from a company that called itself Pinpoint Publishing. They had originally been called Virtual Combinatics, and had sold a program for the Apple II called Micro Cookbook. Suddenly in 1985 they burst upon the market with a new name and a significant new product. Their Pinpoint Desk Accessories was primarily an enhancement for AppleWorks, though it was also possible to install its features for use under Applesoft, and eventually Apple Writer and Word Perfect. Taking after the popularity of "pop-up desktop" programs for the IBM PC like Sidekick, Pinpoint added some similar features to AppleWorks. These features were available at any time, simply by pressing solid-apple and P (option-P on the IIGS). At this point a little "Accessories" menu would pop-up onto the screen, drawn using MouseText characters, and the desired feature was selected by moving the cursor bar up and down the list, pressing RETURN for the one you wanted (working just like AppleWorks). The accessories included Appointment Calendar; Calculator; Communications (a small terminal program for use with a modem, which could send AppleWorks word processing files or save incoming text as a WP file); Dialer (just highlight on the screen the number you wanted to call, and it would be dialed for you via the modem); GraphMerge (which allowed you to print a word processing document with all or part of a double hi-res picture included with the text); Notepad (a miniature word processor, holding up to 32 lines of text and saving notes in AppleWorks WP format); QuickLabel (take an address off the screen and place it on an envelope template for printing); and Typewriter (type and print lines one at a time). This was all very exciting at the time, multiplying the abilities of AppleWorks beyond what it was built to do. Because of disk-space requirements this was more convenient to use from a 3.5 disk or hard disk, but actually could be used from 5.25 disks without too much trouble. Eventually a spelling checker was also made available to use with Pinpoint.
ENHANCEMENTS: BEAGLE BROS AND COMPANY
The next significant AppleWorks add-on appeared in June 1986. It was a product sold by Beagle Bros and called MacroWorks.<10> Written by Randy Brandt, this program patched itself into the keyboard-reading routine of AppleWorks and allowed the user to automate certain functions and assign them to a specific key on the keyboard. Previously, many of AppleWorks features were accessed by pressing either the open-apple or solid-apple (option) key together with another key (recall that the apple keys were nothing more than access to the pushbutton inputs on the joystick). For instance, open-apple and "C" (oa-C) together were used to start a "copy" function. Before MacroWorks was patched into the program, either oa-C or sa-C had the same effect. After adding this enhancement, the solid-apple keys were given their own, separate identity, offering more than double the number of functions that could be executed from the keyboard. (Pinpoint had done something similar, by taking sa-P for its own purposes). A macro was actually a series of keystrokes that could be entered from the keyboard (similar to WPL programs for Apple Writer), but was automated so that a single keypress would activate it. For example, typing a return address could be assigned to the sequence solid-apple-A (sa-A). Or sa-S could be defined to save all the files on the desktop and quit the program. Anything that could be done manually with AppleWorks could be automated with MacroWorks, and it could even do some things that could not be easily done manually. The idea of automating keystrokes in AppleWorks was not unique to MacroWorks; soon after, AutoWorks was released by Alan Bird of Software Touch, and Pinpoint Publishing got into the act with their product, Keyplayer. Brandt upped the ante later in 1986 with an upgrade called Super MacroWorks, which added a few new features and was made to work specifically with the new version 2.0 of AppleWorks. It didn't take long for the other companies to come out with enhanced versions of their programs to work with the newer version of AppleWorks. But the most significant enhancement yet came during 1987. Beagle Bros had just undergone a change in management, as its founder Bert Kersey retired and merged his company with Software Touch. Mark Simonsen and Alan Bird, owners of Software Touch, had previously worked at Beagle before leaving to start their own company. Aside from AutoWorks, they had released enhancements such as SideSpread (which would allow a spreadsheet to be printed sideways on a dot matrix printer) and FontWorks (which allowed word processor files to be printed using different font styles and sizes, using codes embedded in the WP text). As they merged back into the Beagle fold, they brought with them plans for a series of AppleWorks add-ons and enhancement. These would be accomplished via a new core program (or "engine", as they called it) called TimeOut. Written by Alan Bird, TimeOut installed itself into AppleWorks and interfaced directly with Lissner's remarkable built-in memory manager. The neat thing about TimeOut was that after the engine itself was installed, adding other modules was no more complicated than copying them over to the disk from which AppleWorks started. This addressed one of the problems with all of the other enhancement programs available; if they were not installed in the correct order, the patches would begin to step on each other, and crashes were much more likely. TimeOut provided a clearly-defined protocol for adding new features to AppleWorks without this patching hassle. The first TimeOut modules released included DeskTools, FileMaster (which allowed file copying and more), Graph (spreadsheet graphing), QuickSpell, SideSpread (update of the older Software Touch program), SuperFonts (update of FontWorks), and UltraMacros (a more powerful version of Randy Brandt's Super MacroWorks, using ideas from AutoWorks). More followed in subsequent years, including a thesaurus module and a full-featured telecommunications module that worked within AppleWorks.
ENHANCEMENTS: JEM SOFTWARE
Over the years, Beagle Bros has been a major contributor to the longevity of AppleWorks through its many TimeOut enhancements. And they did many users a favor by making upgrades available virtually free, through a program they called "Beagle Buddies". Just contact your Buddy, give evidence that you really owned the program, and he would update UltraMacros from version 3.0 to 3.1, without charge. The down side of this service, however, was that there was no income received by Beagle for updates, making it financially difficult to pay the authors of those updates for their work. For this reason, authors like Randy Brandt (one of the AppleWorks3.0 revision authors) have decided to start their own private company for release of other products for AppleWorks. Through his company, JEM Software, he released PathFinder, which made setting the pathname for the AW "Add Files" menu easier and faster to change. Although that feature was built in to AW 3.0, Brandt did not stop there. With the help of Dan Verkade, he created TotalControl, which adds features to the database module that make specific qualifications for the type of entries that can be made in new or existing records. DoubleData changes the database module so AW can handle twice as many categories per record as it was designed to do. Mr. Invoice gives the capability of producing invoice-type documents with AppleWorks, and DB Pix adds graphic capability to the database, displaying single and double hi-res and Print Shop/ Print Shop GS graphics. Brandt also wrote an update to UltraMacros3.1, called Ultra4.0, which added considerable power to the macro language. All of these add-on programs extend the usefulness of AppleWorks for very specific applications, significantly extending the lifespan of the program. Brandt also came up with the concept of "inits" for AppleWorks. These programs are installed to AW via a small patch that allows it to look for them. Adding an init is simple; it is just copied into a subdirectory called AW.INITS, and any binary program found there with a name that starts with "I." is automatically loaded and patched in at startup time. These inits range from one that improves the handling of the screen print function built-in to AW, to other much larger applications (TotalControl is added via an init, for instance). The difference between these inits and TimeOut applications is that inits are always working, whereas TimeOut programs have to be specifically activated to work. Brandt used the same concept of simple extensions when he designed Ultra4.0; more commands (called "dot commands") can be added to the macro language in the same way as other inits.
As with other popular programs, there have been many patches that have appeared over the years to customize AppleWorks to do things more to a particular user's likings. These first appeared as one to several byte patches that would be applied using Applesoft, poking the bytes to memory and then using the BASIC.SYSTEM command "BSAVE" to put them into the right place in the program. Patches were published in various places to do things like changing the pitch and duration of AW's awful error tone, make it possible for AW to access a disk device in slot 1 or 2 (which it refused to do ordinarily), or make more than one custom printer (not easily done in versions prior to 3.0). Other patches were published to fix various bugs that were uncovered over time. Eventually, these patches were collected into several different programs whose purpose was to streamline the process. Randy Brandt, through JEM Software, released Late Nite Patches for AppleWorks2.0. John Link created a program called SuperPatch that he provided via online services initially, later changed it to shareware as it got more and more massive, and eventually arranged for it to be sold via Quality Computers. Written in Applesoft, John's program made it possible to not only apply the various patches, but to also remove them neatly. Beagle Bros came out with AW 3.0 Companion (later updated to Companion Plus) which allowed not only a large number of useful changes to be made to AppleWorks, but also included a version of Mark Munz' Patcher program to correct some bugs that had made it into the program (and which Claris refused to fix via an upgrade). The Beagle program followed
John Link's lead by making it possible to remove most patches as easily as they were applied.
AppleWorks is probably the most powerful integrated program ever written, in terms of speed (being text-based) and overall useability for a wide range of purposes. Although Claris did release a IIGS version called AppleWorks GS (which was actually a re-write of an older program, GS Works, which they purchased from Styleware and remodelled slightly), that program is significantly different from AppleWorks and cannot be considered an upgrade. Claris as a company has shown absolutely no interest in releasing a v3.1 upgrade, even just to fix the known bugs in the program. Other features that could be added, such as the ones provided via TotalControl or DoubleData or even UltraMacros, could be made a part of AppleWorks out of the box, but Claris' attention is on the Macintosh. It is highly unlikely that any enhancements beyond those that appeared in version 3.0 will ever appear from Claris; but with prolific authors like Brandt, Munz, and others, additional features that some users want will continue to be available.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Magazines
<1> Weishaar, Tom. "Miscellanea", Open-Apple, Nov 1986, p. 2.74.
<2> Williams, Warren, and Carlton, Steve. "AppleWorks", The Apple II Guide, Fall 1990, pp. 36-45.
<3> Weishaar, Tom. "Reality And Apple's Vision", Open-Apple, Nov 1987, pp. 3.73-3.74.
<4> Weishaar, Tom. "Does Your Mother Love You?", Open-Apple, Jan 1986, p. 1.97.
<5> Weishaar, Tom. "New $999 Apple IIGS Arrives", Open-Apple, Oct 1986, pp. 2.65-2.67.
<6> Deatherage, Matt. "Who's Who In Apple II", GEnie Lamp, Aug 1992.
<7> Brandt, Randy. (personal mail), GEnie, E-mail, Jul 1991.
<8> Brandt, Randy. GEnie, A2 Roundtable, Jun 1992, Category 13, Topic 16.
<9> Weishaar, Tom. "AppleWorks 3.0 A Blockbuster", A2-Central, Jul 1989, pp. 5.41-5.46.
<10> Weishaar, Tom. "Miscellanea", Open-Apple, Jun 1986, p. 2.33.