Re: R6502AP

From: Anders Carlsson <>
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2014 15:43:29 +0100
Message-ID: <7DAB305DC8914EAF88F9F37E7C24E6FB@ryds>
Marko Mäkelä wrote:

> Isn't it ironic how Nintendo is allowed to copy from others but not vice 
> versa? As far as I understand, it is not a copyright violation to copy a 
> physical item if some minor details change. It would be legal, provided 
> that no patents, design patents or trademarks are violated either.

I am not a lawyer, but which intellectual properties belong(ed) to the MOS 
6502? As far as I know, one can't claim copyright on hardware, only patents. 
Since the 6502 doesn't contain any microcode, but a PLA, I suppose there was 
no software copyright that could apply as well. To be honest, didn't the 
6502 itself emerge out of the 6800 and at least to a beginning was 

Since Ricoh somehow circumvented existing patents by skipping the decimal 
mode, I suppose legally there was little to do for MOS or whoever held the 
remaining patents. Did rest of the underlying patents lie with Motorola or 
no party at all? As for Nintendo's participation, it is not clear to me if 
Ricoh engineered the 2A03 entirely on Nintendo's requests or if it was a 
cooperative effort and Ricoh already had some of this design available.

Given these assumptions, I suppose a CPU design that indeed contained 
microcode, to which extent it can be copyrighted just like higher level 
computer software, would have been harder for Ricoh/Nintendo to copy.

The various articles about the Famicom keep coming back to the fact that 
there was no 6502 development software in Japan, so Nintendo had to roll 
their own. This does seem like a false statement as HAL Labs made several 
games for the VIC-1001 which clearly predates the Famicom, even on the 
prototype stage. It is quite obvious that in Japan, they most reluctantly 
would import and adopt some foreign tools (e.g. cross assemblers etc) from 
USA or Europe, so disregarding what Commodore themselves and through 
partners did in Japan, perhaps there really wasn't anyone doing 6502 coding 
before the Famicom.

Perhaps though Nintendo rolled their own development software to not raise 
suspicion from outside, in particular if they were going to use a special 
CPU with built-in sound that resembled/copied an existing design but without 
had it licensed. I don't know how tightly various software firms worked with 
the hardware manufacturers, i.e. if MOS et. al would have gotten a word of 
notice if some third party software developer in the US sold software to 
Nintendo in c:a 1982.

Best regards

Anders Carlsson

       Message was sent through the cbm-hackers mailing list
Received on 2014-11-27 15:00:03

Archive generated by hypermail 2.2.0.