Making of the Book “Anatomy of the 4040 Disk Drive”

To my surprise, Hilaire Gagne, the author of “Anatomy of the 4040 Disk Drive”, commented on my blog post about the reconstruction of his book.

Never figured I’d see this book in circulation on the web; brings back memories of the late nights I’d spend disassembling the code and documenting it. I used my CBM PET 4032 /w an 80 column video mod and printed the book on CBM Daisy Wheel printer (model escapes me now) which drove my parents crazy as they were noisy.

I took the opportunity to ask him a few more questions:

How did you find my blog post?

Friends of mine are still “plugged into” the CBM scene and came across reference to your website through some hacking communities they frequent.

How did the disks with the text end up in the collection of Dennis Jarvis?

I gave Dennis and Steve Bowen (CBM) copies of the book along with the source files in case I got hit by a bus. Those floppy disk label scans have my handwriting on them … sadly it hasn’t gotten any better. ;-)

What was the word processor used?

It’s been awhile, but I think it was called WordPro and printed the original for reproduction on a Commodore DPS-1101.

Disassemblies of other Commodore drive ROMs appeared around the same time. Did you read those, or do you think these authors read yours?

Can’t say for sure; there were a few of us who had gone through the trouble of disassembling the ROM’s and we used to share what we learned/discovered. Back in the day, it seems there was much more collaboration going on than nowadays.

The order form mentions “Anatomy of the 8050 dual disk drive” and “Anatomy of the 1581 single 3.5” drive”…

Yep; wrote a bunch of Anatomy books; some I never bothered to print as there wasn’t much demand and print services were costly on small quantities. The Transactor magazine was about to retire and technology was beginning to change at a significant pace.

Some more comments on the timing of the book? The 1581 had already been out, did people still use the 4040 with CBM2 machines? Or with the original PET?

Commodore had released the VIC-20, C-64, C-128 and had begun moving into the AMIGA space. PC XT’s were becoming more widespread and Apple had launched the cost-prohibitive Macintosh. It wasn’t much time after the C-128 that the American consumer started to shift their interest over to PC’s (DOS & Windows 1.x).

What did you do after this? Any interesting computers you worked with?

I had volumes of Commodore PET & C-64/128 software; wrote many applications as well. Wrote a few games which I compiled using PETSPEED and many utilities. My favorite games in the day were text-based adventures.

I got hired to work at Microsoft Canada in the early 90’s in their technical support teams. Years later, I moved into to private contracting/consulting.

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