A Personal Interview with Glen Bredon

By Charles T. 'Dr. Tom' Turley

2/1/96 - 2:15 PM (PST)

I just finished a lengthy, enjoyable and very informative 1 hour and 20 minute personal telephone conversation with Dr. Glen Bredon, the author of Merlin, Merlin PRO and ProSel, among many other programs he's released over the years, for the Apple II and IIGS. We covered a great many personal issues and a number of mutual areas of interest! With respect to the Apple II and IIGS, I wanted to share with all of you the personal interview and information, that resulted from our telephone conversation.

Q - Thanks for allowing me to interview you Glen! Could you tell me how you first started out with your programming efforts on the Apple?

A - Basically I bought an Apple II and there wasn't much to run on it back in late 1979. Actually, I was disappointed at first! Because I spent a lot of money and found no programs to buy for it. Then I started programming in Integer basic and later on I bought an appleSoft card to allow me to program in AppleSoft basic. This was just after the Apple II+ came out and their was even less software available for it!

Q - How did you learn to program on the Apple, so good?

A - With respect to assembly language, I looked at other programs, disassembled and studied them, then learned to use the mini-assembler. I had fun playing around with very minimal assembly skills and learned from correcting bugs in the early programs. One game I remember 'Lunar Lander' by Bill Budge had bugs that didn't allow proper scoring after a certain level. So, I fixed those problems to allow it to do higher scoring correctly.

Q - What exactly motivated you to develop Merlin?

A - After doing lots of stuff on the mini-assembler, I obtained 'Ted Two' - a public domain assembler, that had been used by many, from Call Apple, a group in Seattle. It had certain deficiencies. For example, it didn't do math very well, only simple math. The editor was ok, but the assembler was sort of minimal. I disassembled it, with my own disassembler, which I developed, looked at it and tried to improve it! Then, I offered it back to Call Apple and it was named Big Mac. Mac came from macro. The fellow who ran Call Apple, put me in touch with Roger Wagner, and then it eventually became Merlin. Merlin was retailed from Roger Wagner. As I got better and better Merlin also got better and better!

Q - Why did you develop ProSel and what have been some of the most challenging parts of it during its update history?

A - With a lot of my programs it was a personal need. I started on it with my first HD, a Sider 10MB. I started with minimal and primitive efforts. I enjoyed improving it and kept on improving it. ProSel was done in P8, then expanded into ProSel 16, whic came about in the late 1980's. ProSel stands for Program Selector.

Q - What's your most enjoyable memory, concerning your efforts with the Apple, over the years?

A - When I started to have success in a small way, as far back as with the mini-assembler. It's as simple as ringing a bell! That was a really enjoyable memory in itself.

Q - What other Apple programmers and hardware designers with their products (both software and hardware) do you admire and appreciate the most?

A - As far as hardware goes, I thing the original RAM FAST card, from a small company run out of a garage, as I recall. The developer was a fellow called Vogen. As to software, I have to say the first released by Steve Wozniak, his Integer basic, which he must have done in actual machine Language (zeros and ones). He may has used the mini-assembler. I'm really noy sure! I'm also impressed with all of his programming, which was virtually bug free.

Q - What do you think of the no-tools development efforts from such groups as; the FTA, ACS and others that used your program Merlin for their no-tool style of programming?

A - Very impressive efforts with respect to their graphics, sound, animation and the tight code style. I'm pleased that they did it with the Merlin program.

Q - What improvements would you like to see made with respect to the ProDOS 8 and GS/OS?

A - P8, the only thing is the time and date, it needs seconds. Actually it's not in the programs documentation, but ProSel P8, has alternating Apples, that are actually syncronized with seconds. GS/OS that's just fine to me. Certainly much better than MS DOS!

Q - Which computer language or languages fascinate you the most and why?

A - Assembly language first, is my favorite. Pascal has a great concept and then basic for quick and dirty routines, is a good language also! I favor TEX (pronounced like Tech), for its math
programming abilities. It's a really easy to use language, strange and unique. TEX isn't yet available for the Apples. Perhaps somebody can port it to the Apple some day! That would be real nice. And, it should be fairly easy to do.

Q - If you had the abilities to design your own computer to suit your own needs, what would it be like?

A - From my personal point of view in the early days, I liked the way to get into the guts of the Apple II. You could study it and do anything the machine could do. It was designed with that aspect in mind. Thus, I'd have to say the Apple II is just what I need!

Q - Before your retirement, 2 years ago - did you ever have any periods that you seriously thought about giving up on programming with the Apple and if so why?

A - No never! It was essential a hobby, rather than a business. Any money made was an added bonus but, was not the main motivation. I just program (and still do) for the fun and love of it!

Q - What do you consider to be the most difficult part of programming for the Apple?

A - That's a simple one to answer. Finding the bugs!

Q - The Apple II and IIGS community and their users are longing for some new programs or even some old formerly unavailable programs. When can they expect to see any of your currently unreleased Apple programs and what status would you be willing to release them as; shareware, freeware or perhaps even public domain with the src. codes?

A - Well, I've released a lot of programs in the past that were either; shareware or commercial. I'm going to thing seriously about making them all available by sending them to you with a letter of authorization, to re-release them as freeware and/or public domain. I have several other useful ideas for scientific and math type programs, that I will eventually send you - for release in this manner also!

Hopefully, they may find some usefulness within the Apple II and IIGS user and programming community. I may well even release the src. codes also, to allow others to study them and use or even improve their routines. With respect to Merlin, if you can make arrangements for its release to the public, with Roger Wagner, I think that would be a good idea! I'm certainly willing to do it!

Q - Which of the Apple computer models, that you've used are your favorite?

A - The IIGS!

Q - Even though you are retired now, do you have any plans for any updates with either; Merlin or ProSel?

A - Merlin, no! I've done everything that can be done with respect to Merlin. ProSel, it's certainly possible. And, certainly will be updated and added to - as my time and efforts allow.

Q - What do you think are the most interesting qualities and aspects of the Apple II and IIGS designs?

A - The classic and open design of both!

Should you care to contact Glen, please note the following:

Glen Bredon
Retired - Apple II/IIGS Assembly Programmer
1WSW - Friend and Associate
Programmer, Advisor and Tech. Consultant
58188 Trails End Rd.
Northfork, CA 93643
emails c/o:owsw@aol.com

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