Early Apple memos refer to dongles as ‘a case of the cure being worse than the disease’

“An interesting tidbit from Apple history recently made its way from a Seattle Goodwill to the web,” Chance Miller reports for 9to5Mac. “In a blog post, a user by the name of vadermeer shared a handful of internal memos, progress reports, and other various notes from within Apple during 1979 and 1980 and some of it is surprisingly accurate today.”

“The memos appear to have at one point belonged to Jack MacDonald, who was the manager of systems software for the Apple II and Apple III,” Miller reports.

“The memos run from January 10th, 1979 through June 25th, 1980 and mention a handful of names that we recognize today, including co-founder Steve Wozniak,” Miller reports. “Another interesting tidbit relates to the suggestion that an encryption be implemented with a hardware accessory. A memo from Barry Yarkoni, who later went on to work at IBM, however, calls the idea of hardware anti-piracy tools ‘totally unacceptable.’ So yes, even in 1979, dongles were a thing and Apple still uses them, despite them being ‘a case of the cure being worse than the disease.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, encryption via hardware dongle would be totally unacceptable, even back in 1979. However, using a dongle as a temporary bridge to finally compel an entire industry* into the future kicking and screaming**, however, is not.

*that would still be using command line, green CRTs and floppy disks today, without Apple
**3.5mm to Lightning or USB-C to whatever, for two examples


    1. No, MDN means without Apple, and MDN is correct. Xerox PARC had the right idea but did not generalize it nor was PARC or its parent interested in or in a position to commercialize it.

    2. Get over it.

      The Lisa (then Mac) interface was, even in its earliest phases, radically different from the interface developed at Xerox PARC. Yes, the Lisa and Mac interfaces used parts of that interface as a springboard, but Apple’s implementation was very much improved from what people saw at PARC. Even Windows 1.0 was better than the interface at Xerox, and it was horrific compared to the Mac.

      We can get into how Apple paid Xerox for a license to the interface and even how Gates blackmailed Sculley into licensing the Mac System Software *source code* to Microsoft if you want, but it is a simple fact that the Lisa and Mac operating systems were significantly better than anything at Xerox even to the most casual observers of that day.

      1. When comparing Apple’s 1984 Mac and 1983 Lisa to the Xerox PARC GUI, you might have an argument, albeit a tenuous one, that Apple had significantly improved on Xerox’s work.

        But Windows 1.0 was certainly far worse than Xerox’s earlier OS. The first version of Windows was essentially unusable—extremely slow, buggy, unstable, had almost no software, no networking or printing support, had a crude and homely ‘windowing’ system with no ability to overlap windows and no actual desktop. Released a year late, in 1985, Windows 1.0 was not even a true operating system, simply a crude shell that ran over MS-DOS, and nowhere near as capable or as sophisticated as Xerox’s Alto was in 1973. The general consensus is that it took until 1990 with Windows 3.0 (many would argue 1992 with Windows 3.1) for Microsoft to ship the first useable version of Windows.

    3. Mdn ..take a chill pill… Seriously! I

      ….. good artist copy ..great artists steal? … .. .. are you really an advocate for that.?. without the word Con added to the word Artist first. ?
      If so ..whats your relentless issue with Samsung…?

      Lets stop the bullshit … and lets praise Apple for what it delivers that is legitimately superior and original.

      Iphone.. Applewatch… ..maybe…?
      Lets look furtur … is it :
      iOS with zero user contol of files and orginization of information..?
      The Itunes Mess?
      The imacs and mac mini and macpros defining new heights in computing?
      Tje dongle and Massive port f-up mess.
      Cluttered desk mess..just to keep their devices IVE-ish uncluttered.
      The icloud mess… were one has no clue what copy, delete does to their information across devices… .., or how they can intuitively control their information. …Without praying to God first and keep sll fingers and toes crossed .
      music not being a file in ios mess .
      Ipad being a standalone product supposedly ( bull shit ).. but crippled if one does not have a desktop.
      /abandoning displays? Tue AppleTV??/
      planet of the Apps?
      The igore battery case?
      Te massivly stingy pencil design and offering.


      What is Apple Today? Rich and arrogant…or innovative and hungry to make a Difference.


  1. They are not talking about dongles to convert from one port to another. they are talking about things like the iLok, or the FlexLM dongle.. or RLM dongle.. USB keys that are required to run software, or make pieces of hardware run (its a license, on a KEY).

      1. 95% of Pro Tools users I have met never paid for it. You can easily find plenty of torrents with cracked iLok and Pro Tools 12 (both Mac and Win).

        I’m not sure any of those hardware copy protection keys were ever a serious obstacle against piracy. They do a decent job against casual piracy (sharing a copy with acquaintances, etc), but online activation does as good a job, and it provides much more flexibility when you need your software on multiple machines in multiple places (office / studio / home desktop / personal MBP, etc).

  2. The correct terminology that people today have corrupted is dongle, when it should be adaptor instead. A dongle is a hardware device that when connected, works in tandem with software to protect that software from unauthorized use, or, hardware copy protection. An adapter allows one piece of hardware to connect to another where it could not be used directly. Class dismissed.

  3. In the late 90s, in a large hospital, I supported a software system that required a dongle on each PC for anti-copying purposes. At the time, my thought was, who would want to steal this stuff anyway?

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