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Floppy disk copy protection on the TI?

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There are a number of really good articles out there describing the various techniques used to copy protect floppy disks for the Commodore 64, Apple II, Atari 8-bit and ST, and the Amiga.  Some of these articles are written by the people who developed the techniques, some are written by the people who cracked them (in both admiration and derision.)  Many more are written by preservationists and the uber-nerds who work not with ones and zeros but with the magnetic flux capacitor Delorean domains which contain them.

 

These schemes led to a plethora of programs and product series bent on allowing home users to copy their disks for "archival" purposes (wink wink, though, I promise, that is exactly what I did,) like, for the Commodore in particular, Fast Hack'em, Maverick, Kracker Jax, and -- my first -- Copy II/64, etc. and some hardware enhancements like the RAMboard for the 1541 and 1571 drives which could buffer an entire raw track.  Wherever there was protection there was something to break it.

 

Was the TI out of the game before swap parties and pirating fever over-took home computing?  Was copy-protecting floppies ever a real "thing" for the TI?  If there was such a thing, are any of the schemes known and documented?

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A program call Copy-C could make copies of 98% of the copy protected disks with few problems.

 

The rest you had to use DiskAssembler and a Sectory Editor to make a copy of that disk.

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Some of the most frequently encountered protection (that I've seen) included:

 

MG Disk Assembler

MG Advanced Diagnostics

MG Explorer

 

All the above checked for something special on the disk, but were eventually just cracked and released to bypass this.

 

MG XB Programs (all were protected)

Other XB Programs (protected)  - I think CALL LOAD (-31931,0) unprotected them.

 

TOD Editor - protected XB program, plus if you tried to unprotect it and LIST it, it would put garbage on the screen and lock up the console.

 

As far as cartridges (and Tursi can attest to this, because we patched several), there were many of them that tried to write to the >6000->7FFF space, and NOT to bank switch.  If it were a supercart or Gram Kracker, it would corrupt the game and either freeze, not run, etc.

 

There were also several 32K cartridges that we never patched to work with the new 378/379 bank switching method, including:

Beyond WordWriter

Desktop Publisher

Red Baron's Flight Simulator

Stargazer I, II, III (all on one cart with one bank just dedicated as a menu program)

 

Please feel free to add others below. :)

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su32.gif

 

This old TRS-80 program worked quite well analyzing and copying TI disks too.

I thought this program was so cool back in the day, you could have dead sectors,

weak bytes, dual formats, it didn't matter, this thing would just make a mirror image

of whatever it came across.

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All I know of TI piracy was that my copy of TI Runner was cracked by someone named "Atrax Robustus".  Wherever you are out there Atrax, thank you. 

Edited by S1500

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Doom of Mondular had a really nasty copy protection scheme... plus the program does some seriously weird stuff to Extended BASIC.

 

Copy-C defeated it, so we can play the mediocre game (think very lame Wizardry clone) that someone went to entirely too much trouble to protect...

 

Adamantyr

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su32.gif

 

This old TRS-80 program worked quite well analyzing and copying TI disks too.

I thought this program was so cool back in the day, you could have dead sectors,

weak bytes, dual formats, it didn't matter, this thing would just make a mirror image

of whatever it came across.

 

I need a copy of that.. still go the ol model 4

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DISK HACKER by Will McGovern works with a TI FDC and will analyze protected disks. BTW, ATRAX ROBUSTUS is the pseudonym for both of the McGoverns (Will and Tony) of Funnelweb fame. When Craig Miller boasted about his disk protection being "absolute", it took Will all of a half hour or so to break the protection. It was protected by a data mark between sectors. I have a copy of Will's original cracked programs.

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I made my own copier, to be able to archive the MG Explorer and Advanced diagnostics disks.

One had odd sector numbers, the other also added data in un-formatted storage. So you couldn't just bypass these checks, you actually had to read them to load the program.

The copied disks were just as proteced as the originals. Apart from the fact that I could make more of them.

 

I learned quite a lot of how the WD 2793 disk controller on the CorComp controller card worked in the process. Made it possible for me to write a formatter utility that optimized disks for use with the p-system.

Edited by apersson850

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I made my own copier, to be able to archive the MG Explorer and Advanced diagnostics disks.

One had odd sector numbers, the other also added data in un-formatted storage. So you couldn't just bypass these checks, you actually had to read them to load the program.

The copied disks were just as proteced as the originals. Apart from the fact that I could make more of them.

 

I learned quite a lot of how the WD 2793 disk controller on the CorComp controller card worked in the process. Made it possible for me to write a formatter utility that optimized disks for use with the p-system.

 

 

Would you be willing to share with me so I can back up my Advanced Diagnostics disk?

 

Thanks!

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i know that my dad and his co-workers at TI used some sort of disk sector editor/copier because i have lots of these disks at home ;)  (Disks with the original Munchman, pirated copies of PaddleBall/Burger Builder/TI Toad, that sort of thing)

 

as to what they used i don't have any recollection- plus dad has kind of a sour taste in his mouth about TI in general still so it's hard to get information about the historical stuff. 

 

I sure wish I could, though, so it'd be easier for me to figure out some of what I have thanks to his sister.

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I made my own copier, to be able to archive the MG Explorer and Advanced diagnostics disks.

One had odd sector numbers, the other also added data in un-formatted storage. So you couldn't just bypass these checks, you actually had to read them to load the program.

The copied disks were just as proteced as the originals. Apart from the fact that I could make more of them.

 

I learned quite a lot of how the WD 2793 disk controller on the CorComp controller card worked in the process. Made it possible for me to write a formatter utility that optimized disks for use with the p-system.

 

BTW, about six months ago this was topic of discussion in the development subforum (http://atariage.com/forums/topic/277725-mg-program-copyright-protection/?p=3987591). While trying to make it load in MAME, I found a bug in the WD17xx emulation; after fixing, MAME was able to load these programs from HFE disk images.

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Would you be willing to share with me so I can back up my Advanced Diagnostics disk?

 

Thanks!

My program is a Pascal program, with assembly support, running under the UCSD p-system. It only works with the CorComp controller.

If it's still interesting, I'm pretty sure I can find it.

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I tried the TRS-80 and Copy-C on the TI and I get the same CRC Address error when trying to make a copy of my original Advanced Diags.

 

Can anyone help me figure out how to make a copy?

 

Thanks!

 

Bill

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If memory serves me Track-Hack will copy AD. You can also make a DS/SD copy using a command file. I think I put it on a disk of the month in one of the Yesterdays News newsletters.

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If memory serves me Track-Hack will copy AD. You can also make a DS/SD copy using a command file. I think I put it on a disk of the month in one of the Yesterdays News newsletters.

 

 

Thanks!  Track-Hack reads the disk no problem but I can't get it to write to disk 1 or disk 3 it never gives an option.

 

Can you please explain what a make a DS/SD copy using a command file is and how to do it?

Edited by videofx

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