Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Re: Tales of Woz's Genius

Author:Donald W. Larson
Posted:7/21/2000; 7:01:39 PM
Topic:Re: Tales of Woz's Genius
Msg #:18908
Prev/Next:18907 / 18909


What a great story and takes me back to my first job in the computer industry.

In August 1982, I was hired as the Customer Support Manager for Omega MicroWare, Inc., publishers of LockSmith and other Apple II disk utilities.

LockSmith was the premier copy program of the day for Apple II's. It had ways to nibble-copy disks, edit specific headers and trailers of sectors, and manipulate parameters to overcome almost any copy-protection scheme. Omega MicroWare sold tens of thousands of copies of LockSmith in the early 1980's.

In fact, Visicalc was the number one program that users bought LockSmith to copy. In those years gone by, many software publishers would not provide a backup or replacement copy of software if the disk became unreadable. Because the Copyright law allowed a user to create a backup copy of software for their own use, Omega MicroWare had a fantastic market niche.

However, we followed a policy and would not publish LockSmith program parameters for publishers that provided a free backup disk or replacement policy for registered users. Many CEO's called me to complain about LockSmith parameters until I told them about that policy. Some changed their tunes afterwards and some continued to complain. The telephone 'hold' button was a marvelous tool in such cases. :-)

Omega MicroWare published pages of program parameters for our users that covered every game and major Apple II program at that time. The copy-protection wars were fought with customers caught in the middle. Eventually, copy-protection stopped being done and it was a good thing. Far too many users were having trouble running non-standard DOS used by copy-protection schemes.

Omega MicroWare wasn't the only game in town. I remember working the 1982 AppleFest in San Francisco and meeting a guy who had a hardware solution to copy-protection. He had created a Apple II board that allowed a copy-protected disk to be loaded into memory and then he had a button attached to a cable that issued a non-maskable interrupt to grab all memory allowing boot-traces and disassembly to take place. One could then write out modified memory to a disk effectively removing the copy-protection.

Those were the days. :-)


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