Remembering MacPaint

Written by Paper. Posted in Art, Articles

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Published on February 15, 2017 with No Comments

It was discontinued in 1998 but by then it had been around for more than 14 years. And now those who are fans of source code can visit the original MacPaint program because Apple donated it to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Nowadays there are numerous digital drawing tools but for many years MacPaint was the drawing program on Apple’s computers, allowing anyone to use the lasso or paintbrush or other tools to draw on a computer screen. For those interested in the actual code that made this possible, the MacPaint source code had 5,822 lines of code written in the Pascal programming language with another 3,583 lines of code in the Assembler language. That’s what was donated to the Computer History Museum. And rumors are that it’s easy to read.
But not everyone is into the programming details, which is why MacPaint and its relatives, MacSketch, Quickdraw and the like became so popular. The tools provided an easy way for non-programmers to pursue art on their computers. It also set the stage for Apple’s popularity with artists. And what of the guy who wrote the program? Bill Atkinson, one of the major figures in MacPaint programming, moved on to other things but most recently is pursuing nature photography in a big way – photographing the tiny details contained in polished stone. As a child he became fascinated with photographs in the Arizona Highways magazine. It isn’t yet clear whether he is a geek turned artist or the other way around. In any case, MacPaint once rocked, and paved the way for all the stuff we have today.

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