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How People Used To Pirate Retro Software
After reading the title above, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m teaching you how to illegally pirate software. Please rest assured. As a programmer, I understand that software piracy can hurt businesses, so I don’t recommend it. There are a lot of great software that you can download for free. Especially if you don’t need all the great features of expensive software. This article describes people who have stolen software from retro computers such as the Spectrum and Atari ST.
Spectrum and Commodore 64
The Spectrum and C64 software came on a cassette tape inserted into a data recorder (or tape recorder) and could be loaded into memory by entering commands such as load””. These computers relied on a series of audio signals, which were horrible squeaks and never pleasant to listen to. Many times (especially for Spectrum 128k games) the load could crash, so I had to wait up to 10 minutes, readjust the volume and start over. For low records, game cassettes usually have another copy on the other side.
Most people can copy these games using a hi-fi system with twin cassette decks. I was able to get a perfect copy by inserting the original game cassette into the first deck and pressing “play”, inserting an empty cassette into the second deck and pressing “play and record”. You can buy cassette tapes to store your data, such as the C15, which can record up to 15 minutes. Some people use C90 which can save many games at once.
If you don’t have access to twin cassette decks, you can use the software. Spectrum allows you to use something like “007Spy” to load the entire game into memory and back it up to an empty cassette. Some games had different loading methods, such as the pulse (or click) loader, the method used by many Ocean Software games. This has led to the release of other software that can deal with these loaders. The average Spectrum game consists of a short code (header), a loading screen, and main code. This is a standard loader and can be easily copied.
When the Spectrum 128k +3 was released it had a built in floppy disk drive. There were so many games released on +3 discs that the tape-to-disc transfer method was used. The standard loader was easy. Just type Merge”” to enter the editor code and +3 save it to disk (save”a:program-name”). Then load the loading screen up into memory (load “screen-name” code 30000) and save it to +3 disk. Finally, do the same in your main code and add the load command to your main header code.
For the more complex loaders, a set of programs called “007 Trans-Master” was used to convert the files to a standard format so that they could be stored on +3 disks.
Atari ST and Amiga
The beauty of the Atari ST and Amiga computers is that you have hundreds of free software available and no need to pirate commercial software. There were many PDLs (Public Domain Libraries) distributing free software for the price and postage of the discs and the distribution effort. The actual software is free and covers everything from demos to games to photos to music files. There is also a shareware method where you pay a small subscription fee and receive additional charges for full version software and licenseware, and PDL provides a small commission to original contributors.
Atari ST software was typically copied using specialized disc copiers such as ‘Fast Copy’, but the Amiga used the popular ‘X-Copy’. However, some discs were protected and required the use of other, more powerful copy software.
Software publishers have used many forms of production to deter copying, such as Spectrum’s more complex loader. Other methods require the user to enter a word or letter from a manual before entering the game, or select a series of colors or symbols from a book to match those on the screen. You can consider them copied until you play for a long time and notice an unpleasant surprise. For example, in the game “Shadow of the Beast”, the screen is turned upside down in certain levels.
This led to the rise of cracking groups such as the famous Atari ST’s ‘Pompey Pirates’, who hacked into the game and removed the copy protection. After that, a large number of games (hacked and packed) he released on one floppy disk and distributed to various users.
The battle between software publishers and piracy is an ongoing one, and people always want free software if they can get it. Old retro software rarely needs to be copied from the original, so there are many free downloads available from various websites for those who want to recreate the old days. I’m not going to tell you how to copy the latest PC software. This article was just written to explain how people can backup the software of their old system. I mentioned that there is a lot of free or cheap software available for PCs. We strongly encourage you to use it instead of relying on copyright infringement.
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