I honestly can’t remember if I posted about this earlier in one form or another, but here is it anyway - a glorious entry in the series called “I found random crap while browsing old files”. Also another in the series called “wunderkids are dime a dozen”.

Here’s a bit of source code, NITELITE.PAS. Can you guess what it does?

program BrightWhiteBack;
uses Crt;

begin
     TextBackground(White);
     ClrScr;
     while keypressed = false do begin end;
end.

It was written one beautiful day in 1996 - June 19th, apparently. Basically, I was on a summer vacation trip with my family, somewhere in Finnish Lapland. I wanted a night light, because there are no lamps in Lapland - just the glory of midnight Sun, which doesn’t reach the far corners of cabins when the parents decide to close the curtains.

I was toying with my father’s laptop - an Acer 486SX laptop with grayscale VGA screen, running DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11. And on the laptop, I had the epicest development environment known to humankind (or my geek friends) at the time: Turbo Pascal 7.0.

So, I wanted a night light, and bloody hell, did it ever work. The laptop even had a slider to change the screen brightness - you had a night light with adjustable screen brightness right here!

It’s actually pretty cool that I found the source code. I kept some of the source code on floppies, but I had some far more clever programs done around that time… and those were on the laptop’s hard drive. Which went boom.

Nevertheless, I haven’t really been keeping track on what happens in the smartphone market, but apparently flashlight apps are pretty hot, and are even offered for money, which means there are actually people paying for them. In 1996, there just wasn’t a market for programs like this, even on shareware distribution channels. I regret not having business sense to publicise this program at that time. Or even upload it to MBnet BBS, where every kid apparently uploaded epic shareware projects like this. Or so I’ve heard. Never used that one.

I was thinking of open-sourcing the above source code, but I think I’m turning it into a product. You must, however, understand that this project was relaunched on a spur of a moment, and serious software business should require further studies. I’m offering the above source code free for research purposes (yes, I’m fully aware that this may give the competitors an edge), but if you want compiled binaries for a lofty price of Whatever I Wish To Charge Today, please contact me (serious, serious business inquiries only - you may, for example, need to pay my travel expenses, since my copy of Turbo Pascal 7.0 is stored in a closet somewhere). This offer is only applicable to early adopters who are fully equipped with properly configured copy of DOSBox; sometime in 2012, I’m going to launch a fully modernised version that runs on modern operating systems, and this implementation based on the SDL library and the potentially fascinating memset() C library function, which has the potential to turn the screen very white indeed. Due to recent advances in technology, this time, we are no longer merely constrained to rigid text displays! We have, indeed, a whole bitmap, each pixel of which can be turned white independently! This application is also fit for multitasking; no longer do you need to shut down all of your other applications to enable flashlighteering!

Or maybe not. In this cut-throat business climate, who can say what comes out of this? (Let’s quit this kidding while I’m ahead…)

A bit of sidetracking: Last I heard, the 486SX laptop supposedly still works - you can do spreadsheet style data entry with Microsoft Works 2.0 for Windows, and OpenOffice.org opens up Works spreadsheets just fine. Or so I’ve heard. Some of my weirdest memories from this laptop includes buying MS-DOS games in summer trips, and testing them on the laptop before getting to play them on our 486DX desktop. The system requirements for Wolf included “color monitor”, which was pretty weird, until I tried to play the game on the grayscale laptop. A grey wolf in a snowy-grey forest hunting a greyish rabbit. Good hunting!