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Interesting historic read of notes on end 1970s Apple SSAFE project – how it started and ended

Posted by jpluimers on 2017/02/27

This appeared a few days back: [WayBack

It’s about “Software and Security from Apple Friends and Enemies” an early exchange of ideas and possibilities for DRM in the Apple ][ and Apple III era.

I got it via my RSS subscription, but it has been over the net in quite a few other places as well:

I think the most important quote is from the one on reddit, submitted 20170223 by vadermeer  for which I added some WayBack/ links:

[WayBackFound Internal Apple Memos about copy protection for Apple II, SARA, LISA(self.VintageApple)

Yesterday at the Seattle Goodwill Outlet, where everything is sold by the pound, I noticed the Apple logo on letterhead sticking out from a bin of books, so I started digging. What I found were the 1979-1980 files of Jack MacDonald, manager of system software for the Apple II and /// at the time

They tell the story of project “SSAFE” or “Software Security from Apples Friends and Enemies.” This was a proposal to bring disk copy protection in-house to sell as a service to outside developers. Inter-office memos, meeting notes and progress reports all give a good idea of what a project lifecycle was like. Different schemes and levels of protection are considered, as well as implementation primarily on the Apple II+ and the upcoming SARA (The Apple ///) and Lisa computers. [WayBackRandy Wigginton is featured prominently throughout, along with mentions of Woz and many other familiar names.

The documents were all a jumble so I’ve put them in chronological order and scanned the collection, please enjoy. []

The reddit thread is very nice reading as it explains how close we are now to this Level 1:

Level 1. Totally secure. Absolutely no method of stealing the software. 100% effective. Note that the ideal, level 1, is achievable only through disallowing any access of any kind to the software and the computer. Not very practical in our circumstances.

and this one from boingboing:

It’s so neatly packaged and well-documented it could be a Harvard Business Review case-study.


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