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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Vintage Apple Computer Manuals : Apple ProDOS ProDos

Apple ProDOS

“Apple ProDOS is primarily a disk operating system, but handles interrupts and memory management also.”

“A system program communicates between the user and the operating system.”


1.1 What is ProDOS?

ProDOS is an operating system that allows you to manage many of the resources available to an Apple II. It functions primarily as a disk operating system, but it also handles interrupts and provides a simple means for memory management. ProDOS marks files with the current date and time, taken from a clock/calendar card if you have one.

All ProDOS startup disks have two files in common: RODOS and xxx.SYSTEM (chapter 2 explains the possible values for xxx). The file PRODOS contains the ProDOS operating system; it performs most of the communication between a system program and the computer’s hardware. The file xxx.SYSTEM contains a system program that usually communicates between the user and the operating system. Figure 1-1 shows a simplified block diagram of the ProDOS system.

A ProDOS system program – such as the BASIC system program (file BASIC.SYSTEM on the ProDOS BASIC Programming Examples disk), the ProDOS Filer (file FILER on the ProDOS User’s disk), or the DOS-ProDOS Conversion program (file CONVERT on the ProDOS user’s disk) – is an assembly language program that accepts commands from a user, makes sure that they are valid, and then takes appropriate action. One course of action is to make a call to the Machine Language Interface (MLI), the portion of the operating system that receives, validates and issues operating system commands.

A Simplified_Diagram_of_Apple ProDOS

Calls to the MLI give you control over various aspects of the hardware. MLI calls can be divided into housekeeping calls, filing calls, memory call, and interrupt handling calls. The way that the MLI communicates with disk drives, memory, and interrupt driven devices is described in the following sections (full manual available at

A Word about System Programs. If you have dealt with system programs before , you may be a bit confused about the term as used in this manual ( full manual available for download at ) True System programs are neither application programs ( such as a word processor) nor operating systems : they provide an easy means of making operating system calls from application programs.

As used in this manual, system program refers to a program that is written in assembly language, makes calls to the Machine Language interface, and adheres to a set of conventions, making it relatively easy to switch from one program to another. System programs can be identified by their file type.

In short, it is the structure of a program not its function, that makes a program a ProDOS

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