Friday, May 6, 2011

The character generator and the Apple II

The Register had an interesting article the other day, that mentioned Apple co-founder Woz and his view on software patents. Woz told a great story about the Apple II.

From the article:
"The Apple II, okay? I put it together, and I'm going to put characters on my TV set, and there's this trick called a character generator. Okay, that'll help me figure out which dots to put out at the right time to pop up on an American TV," he reminisced.

"And then we find out RCA has a patent on a character generator for any raster-scanned setup," he said. "And they patented it at a time when nobody could have envisioned it really being used or anything ... and they got five bucks for each Apple II, based on this little idea that's not even an idea. Y'know: store the bits, store the bits, then pop in a character on your TV."

[...] "I don't know any other way you could do it - anybody would have come up with that with the same approach."