What the heck is boot13?

Why boot13?  It’s the first program I ever ran on a microcomputer.  The computer was an Apple II+, and the full command was BRUNBOOT13:

BRUNBOOT13

I was trying to run a game for the first time: The Dragon’s Eye.  It wouldn’t boot from the 5 ¼” floppy disk I had.  So I called Wally, the guy who provided the computer.

Wally realized that the game disk used a slightly older format, with 13 sectors per track, instead of the newer 16 sector format.  The solution was to boot from the Apple II+ System Disk, then enter the command above from the command line.

On the Apple II+, parsing of command lines was a bit strange, in that commands built into the operating system were reliably parsed even when not separated from arguments.  In this case, the built in command was BRUN, which loads a binary program from disk and runs it.  The program was BOOT13, which, when run, allowed booting from 13 sector disks.

It worked.  The Dragon’s Eye turned out to be one of my favourite games, and I ended up figuring out how to modify it, first removing the copy protection, converting it to a 16 sector disk format, then changing the game’s Applesoft BASIC code.  I added a few features, most notably a system for recording and displaying high scores.

I still have a heavily-customized, home-built Apple II+ and that hacked version of the game, but these days when I want to play it, I use an Apple II+ emulator like AppleWin.

So: first program run, first command entered, so that I could run the first game on my first microcomputer. BOOT13.

About jrivett

Jeff Rivett has worked with and written about computers since the early 1980s. His first computer was an Apple II+, built by his father and heavily customized. Jeff's writing appeared in Computist Magazine in the 1980s, and he created and sold a game utility (Ultimaker 2, reviewed in the December 1983 Washington Apple Pi Journal) to international markets during the same period. Proceeds from writing, software sales, and contract programming gigs paid his way through university, earning him a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) degree at UWO. Jeff went on to work as a programmer, sysadmin, and manager in various industries. There's more on the About page, and on the Jeff Rivett Consulting site.

Leave a Reply