View Full Version : A technical question about Tapcis!

July 7th, 2011, 10:04 PM
Here's a question for anyone who can remember that far back :)

I was reading about a patent troll named Lodsys that has started suing everyone and their dog over what look like very questionable patents. Some people have fought back by filing for declaratory judgements (pre-emptively filing with a court seeking to have the court declare that what they do does not infringe on the patent or that the patent is invalid), and in some of those cases the initial threat letters from Lodsys have become public.

Here is a recent article about it in Groklaw (http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110705124738103)

Here is a PDF of a claim construction (http://www.groklaw.net/pdf3/ESETvLodsys-1ExF.pdf) that Lodsys sent to ESET. The claim construction lays out details of how Lodsys alleges that ESET's product infringes on a patent claim by mapping each element of the claim to an element of their product.

Now here is the relevance to TapCIS: The Lodsys patent goes back to the 1990's. I don't have the exact priority date but it has to be later than 1991. Showing that everything that is in the patent was in a product in the 1980's would work to invalidate it by reason of prior art.

If you look at the PDF, it shows ESET having a registration reminder screen that the user can click on to enter credit card and other information that is sent to ESET who uses the information and can save some of it for future use.

My question for Tapcis people, is this: Didn't Tapcis have a free trial when you downloaded and then when the trial was about to run out have some sort of reminder that let you register with a credit card or through your CompuServe account? Did it have all the elements listed in the PDF slides?

Also, what year did Tapcis appear? While looking this up I noticed that the Wikipedia article on Tapcis says that it came out in 1981, but it also says that it is written in Turbo Pascal, and the article on Turbo Pascal says that first came out in that name and for DOS at the end of 1983.

July 8th, 2011, 03:29 AM
I remember that there was a registration screen, but I don't remember how it appeared. I registered about 20 years ago!

The old HMI forum's Sysop Roster included this note, from Howard Benner, the creator of TAPCIS:

Tap goes back a long way, as these things go, to a little ditty I wrote for the Tandy Model 100 in 1983, SUPER.SIG. At that point, I had already been on CompuServe for two years and, in the interim since then, have logged more miles of messages than I care to remember.

July 8th, 2011, 12:56 PM
When I registered Tap 4.2 about 1985 it was shareware, and I think through the versions it always remained so, but as with true shareware back in the day, with no expiring trial period and I don't remember even a nag screen. There was a registration procedure, of course. Otherwise what would be the point? I still have a working copy of Tap, and I just looked all over the help screens, but there's no originating date attached to the copyright notice. That's likely because on Howard's death copyright ownership changed, first to his daughters and then to Support Group.

July 9th, 2011, 06:06 AM
I think there was an extra screen that I had to go thru, to do anything useful with TAPCIS, until I got my registration number and plugged it in.

July 12th, 2011, 04:56 PM
I don't remember any expiration/nagware limitations in TAP. I think for TAP 3 and 4 you had to call and get a floppy sent. I got too many versions free to remember. You might track down Loren -- through Skye L., Mike???

For early micro nagware/registration/3rd_party_sales_agent stuff, you might Google "Atlantic." I believe they were the anointed successors to CompuServe, which briefly was a sales agent for shareware, oh, ca. 1989. Reminders/trialware early adopters? Sorry, not me. The rest is dimness.

And of course there were the mainframe contract "maintenance," renewal, and drop-dead features dating back to the ?1970s.

If you were fighting a patent troll, you might inject some levity and cite Bill Gates' trash-talking (at user groups across the country) the CA Homebrew Computer Club, castigating 90% of them for stealing his MS BASIC on punched tape. Thats a central enforcement mechanism. Shame probably no longer need apply.

July 13th, 2011, 03:00 PM
For early micro nagware/registration/3rd_party_sales_agent stuff, you might Google "Atlantic." I believe they were the anointed successors to CompuServe, which briefly was a sales agent for shareware, oh, ca. 1989.
... FWIW, I think I paid for a couple pieces of shareware (besides TAPCIS) via my Compuserve account in about 95 or 96.