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I don't know about you,

 

but I make it a point to use software that does not have

the blatant 'cracked by so and so' splash screen.

 

that kind of stuff kinda really irritates me.

 

and then they wonder 'gee, what happened to Atari Corp.?'

 

I mean its great you are an ace hacker and what not

but really what happened to morals and decency anyway?

 

And earning a living?

 

 

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Well, I was a guy who did pirate software back in the day and I did have a friend who had a decent enough grasp on assembly to crack games. I can't remember if he added his name to title screens since it was so long ago but I see the reason why one would do that. It's like graffiti.

Now, like most kids at the time I didn't have a lot of cash but I did have access to people with cracked software. I did buy software at the time but when someone offers you tons of software and all you have to pay is $1 a disk instead of $30, one just has to do the math.

So, speaking from a perspective of morals and decency, as a kid your understanding of that sort of thing isn't as refined as it should be as an adult. Kids take things because they want them. They live in the now, not understanding the larger picture cuz they don't have any past experiences to draw from, such as working for a living. 

So, now I need to ask if you, at the time, had the skillz to crack software OR had access to tons of software but were able to resist that temptation? If so, how did you deal with that?

Edited by Justin Payne
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dont get me wrong

 

BITD i did my share of copying

 

i also (well my Dad) bought a lot of software.

 

I guess 'not knowing better' is not really an excuse.

 

in the 80s computers were new and exciting and i guess we all

had to have the latest games

 

but now older, i see how messed up it really was

 

i didnt have the cracking skills, i did try to teach myself

a JSR $E453 sector scan which accesses the 810 disk drive

 

but now, at age 49 (jeez) i really try to give back (read: pay for original floppys)

and recognize just how much hard work it takes.

 

learn from the past

live in the present

look forward to the future

 

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Exactly, so understanding that you did it back then for "reasons", would you really say you had poor morals and a lack of decency?  Additionally, since you didn't have the skillz to crack games, you wouldn't really fully comprehend why people would put their name on a splash screen but, again, not so much "morals and decency" but more about wanting to brag about doing it by spreading their name around the community. Last weekend someone streamed "crack screens" done by hackers. These weren't just putting their name on the splash screen but at a level of a demo programmer. Some were very impressive. That's definitely a level up from what most people put on the games but just as with graffitiers (aka: taggers), some are artists and some simply know how to spell their names. 
Just as you have looked back on your actions, I'm pretty sure they too have done the same. Of course, piracy was not beneficial to that business but you can't blame it entirely for Atari's Corp's failure. Atari made a bunch of poor business decisions that probably impacted them more than piracy.

 

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This seems to be 25 years out of date 🙄

 

There res was a multitude of factors, for example, living in Portugal I had no access to original software unless I sent for it from abroad, which for a teen without a credit card is not easy...

 

i kept busy mostly with ST Format cover disks, some shareware but yes, there was a postal interchange of disks which at the time I did not realise the consequences.

 

i still got some great titles like F1, secret of monkey island, cannon fodder, among others. Usually I would spend my birthday and Christmas opportunities to ask adults for this 

 

in the latter days of the ST scene and even in like 1996 I bought Proflight and some other original software since I was now working and could make those decisions on my own. I also participated in the effort to release Civilization to the Atari and drooled at Frontier 2 demo.

 

in recent times with developers mostly gone, I did buy some original titles off eBay but I'm under no illusion that I'm supporting whoever developed it, it just goes to whoever is selling the title.

 

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Some did, do piracy strictly for profit. Some do cracking for fun, challenge, to get some credits, and like. Surely it harmed sales of SW, probably games in big part. But saying that it was factor in Atari's failure is not good idea. Cheaper SW for computer may increase sales actually. I think that it is what happened.

Then, there were countries where you was not able to buy original SW. Only way was during travel, or that someone in country where it was possible do it for you, and ship, bring it ...

Looking from aspect of SW developers piracy was of course bad, harmful. But I think that they did not do everything possible to prevent, decrease it, + some of their statements were pretty much disputable, over the top. Like every pirate copy sold means losing same money as one copy price. No, they would no sell so much simply because high price. And prices were often really high. Especially for games in most cases. Which were not always at some high level.

Of course pirates self did not good 'job' always. There are many not well tested releases around.

 

Considering " the blatant 'cracked by so and so' splash screen. " - yeah, that's something what is present in more than 90% releases. And what says there must be not true. Some crackers were highly offended by fact that others 'stole' their crack without crediting them and like, what resulted in even more stupid messages, now with diverse f* you type messages, and even some threats 😀

 

But maybe most interesting in all this is fact that now, decades after I see that sites of known game publishers dedicated to their old SW for diverse platforms offer their old games for free DL - and guess what ? - in most of cases that are pirate versions 🤣 They simply have no copies of originals, sources with which could make copy protection free disk images .

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12 hours ago, Justin Payne said:

 Of course, piracy was not beneficial to that business but you can't blame it entirely for Atari's Corp's failure. Atari made a bunch of poor business decisions that probably impacted them more than piracy.

 

The best industry as a whole was suffering from high levels of software piracy. What started turning developers away was that titles released for Atari/Amiga/PC would have much higher levels of piracy on Atari than on the other platforms.

 

i believe that since Ataris were the cheaper platform, it ended up with a higher share of people unwilling/unable to fork £30 or £40 for one game... and remember not every game was a classic.

 

amiga users probably had more purchasing power and PC even more. Plus PCs were much popular in North America were software piracy was much lower than in Europe.

 

and yes, Atari made a lot of mistakes that speeded up its fall... the STe if launched in 1987 and the Falcon in 1989 probably would have made much more of a difference 

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When I was a teen I worked at a video store. Videos were around $80 for the average consumer to buy. It was more around $60 for video stores. Still, that was outrageously expensive so people ended up copying them....until prices were around $15. Then I wasn't worth the effort. Software companies probably should have considered how much they lost to piracy and how much they would need to drop the price of their software to make it so it wasn't worth it. Now, was that effort ever made? I don't know but I do know it worked with videos...at least in countries where you could easily buy them.

Now, the Ultima games came with swag so they were worth purchasing at full price.

Also, by the time I got my ST, I was well into pirated software so I doubt I would have switched over to purchasing much software at that point. I was already corrupted(🤣) but when I got my PC I did get back into buying software a lot of the time. I also had a job that provided me with money to spend on games.

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16 hours ago, Wally1 said:

dont get me wrong

 

BITD i did my share of copying

 

i also (well my Dad) bought a lot of software.

 

I guess 'not knowing better' is not really an excuse.

 

in the 80s computers were new and exciting and i guess we all

had to have the latest games

 

but now older, i see how messed up it really was

 

i didnt have the cracking skills, i did try to teach myself

a JSR $E453 sector scan which accesses the 810 disk drive

 

but now, at age 49 (jeez) i really try to give back (read: pay for original floppys)

and recognize just how much hard work it takes.

 

learn from the past

live in the present

look forward to the future

 

I guess I'm not sure what you're really getting at here.  Are you talking about stuff being produced today?  Or lamentations for the sins of the past?

 

Sure, I copied a bit here and there and now that I have more income (compared to none, as a kid) I buy original stuff that I want to collect.

 

But buying those original floppies off ebay doesn't do anything for the original creator... it just helps some guy who found it in their dad's attic or found it at an estate sale.

 

As a software engineer, sure... I want to get paid and see people get paid, so for things being actively still available, I always go for the buy-it option.  So if that's what you're talking about, I agree with you.  However if you're talking about buying original disks off ebay instead of copying... well... while that is what I like to do, it's only for liking to have originals and manuals... but I see no major difference if the seller isn't the author.

 

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1 minute ago, Tillek said:

I guess I'm not sure what you're really getting at here.  Are you talking about stuff being produced today?  Or lamentations for the sins of the past?

 

Look just below his profile image and I think you'll find a clue as to his motivations. ;-) 

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4 minutes ago, Justin Payne said:

Look just below his profile image and I think you'll find a clue as to his motivations. ;-) 

Well, motivations aside... I was really just looking to understand what he was meaning to say since I kind of got lost.  Then again, I'm at the end of a very mind numbingly boring workday..  That "post-release" period where they're deploying to the next environment and you're basically just waiting to deal with bugs that roll in.... and that train never comes.

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On ‎9‎/‎8‎/‎2019 at 7:45 PM, Wally1 said:

I don't know about you,

 

but I make it a point to use software that does not have

the blatant 'cracked by so and so' splash screen.

 

that kind of stuff kinda really irritates me.

 

and then they wonder 'gee, what happened to Atari Corp.?'

 

I mean its great you are an ace hacker and what not

but really what happened to morals and decency anyway?

 

And earning a living?

 

 

You are an American, so you could not possibly understand the situation in large part of Europe and South America, having grown up in Capitalism.

 

While there was a communist regime, there were no shops where you could buy the home computer, forget about the games ! It was illegal to even own it and the only way to get it was through a black market (a risky and expensive proposition in itself).

 

The regime fell in 1989, but it wasn't until ~1996 (long after Atari's demise) that a first videogame store opened up in the capital (city of 350,000) of our region. The prices after conversion from USD were absolutely ridiculous. Average salary being 4,500 - the game cost exactly 50% of that - 2,300

 

Nobody in their right mind would go and spend 50% of his income on a single game. That's not how the world works.

 

Or, are you telling me that you would spend 50% of your income on ONE game ? That's beyond ridiculous, because I hear Americans bit*ing about $0.1 increase on gas all the time here, even though the gas is about order of magnitude cheaper considering the salaries in U.S. (compared to Europe).

 

 

It took another 2 decades of being in European Union and having drastic inflation till the cost of games became bearable, but I am the only one between my friends who pays for games, nobody else from that generation does and never will - just on principle. Younger generation who hasn't experienced communism views this matter differently, of course.

 

 

 

I am not being sarcastic now - I truly mean it - please take your moralizing elsewhere and go thank God for your ignorance, because it's extremely insulting for the rest of us who haven't been blessed like that.

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This thread reminds me of an article in Electronic Games magazine from 1985 about hackers, pirates, and muggers.

 

https://archive.org/details/Electronic_Games_Volume_03_Number_03_1985-03_Reese_Communications_US/page/n21

 

Here's a page from the article:

 

hackers_pirates_muggers_02.thumb.png.eb1989ca04963faae570940e3d55bc94.png

 

If we go by the images above, hackers are four-eyed nerds who sit around in their underwear and probably smell like B.O., pirates are evil little shits, and muggers are overweight slobs who are into Smurf cosplay.

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That begs the question : Just how much piracy was there in U.S. in early '80s ?

 

Did kids freely exchange/copy tapes/disks at elementary school ?

 

So exactly how widespread was the piracy in the 8-bit arena in U.S. ?

 

 

It's one thing to buy expensive $800 Atari as a Christmas present, but quite another beast to "feed it" games on a regular basis over next many years...

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On 9/9/2019 at 1:14 PM, Tillek said:

Well, motivations aside... I was really just looking to understand what he was meaning to say since I kind of got lost.  Then again, I'm at the end of a very mind numbingly boring workday..  That "post-release" period where they're deploying to the next environment and you're basically just waiting to deal with bugs that roll in.... and that train never comes.

If no bugs roll in then that means you had good manual and automated QA test coverage. That's how it's supposed to go. 🙂

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On 9/10/2019 at 3:32 AM, VladR said:

That begs the question : Just how much piracy was there in U.S. in early '80s ?

 

Did kids freely exchange/copy tapes/disks at elementary school ?

 

So exactly how widespread was the piracy in the 8-bit arena in U.S. ?

 

 

It's one thing to buy expensive $800 Atari as a Christmas present, but quite another beast to "feed it" games on a regular basis over next many years...

Here is how it worked for me.

In '83, we got our first programming class which had about 10 or 12 Apple ][+'s. One of the students would go to the library downtown where they had a computer room and he would get games from another guy and bring them back and sometimes share them with us (and sometimes he was a huge dick about it). After school our teacher stayed after so that we could work on our programs but one day during the week he would let us play games and those games were all pirated. That's where it first started for me but about the same time I got an Atari 800 and since I had no storage, I'd play Star Raiders and type in BASIC programs from magazines.  Finally I got a tape player but that thing was totally unreliable when it came to saving my programs so lots of typing for nothing. Still, I wasn't pirating tapes. It wasn't until I got a disk drive and a modem that the real pirating started.  I would dial into a few local BBS's and hang out chatting ing the forums. Some people took a liking to me and invited me to a pirate party. At first, I was just given software but over time I got a hold of other sources and then would trade with my friends, although at some point the party portion became more of a priority than the pirating so we'd end up inviting other more interested in the software. We'd just show them were the disks and computers were, tell em what we wanted copies of, and let them take as much as they wanted. Then we'd all go drink beer and hang out at the lake.

Another way we got software was to go to the local computer store, copy it, and return it. When they caught onto that scam we'd get a group of people to buy in on the game, copy it, and then the person that paid a certain majority would get to keep the original. One of my buddies was also somewhat good at Assembly so he could sometime get around the copy protection if our copy wouldn't cut it. Still, it was $10 - $15 for a box of disks and I sometimes just couldn't copy everything. I remember you could use the plastic case the Indus GT came in as a disk box and that thing was pretty full but I knew people that would collect everything.

When I moved up to the ST, pirating was even easier and I still have tons of disks from those days since disks were way cheaper. At that point I would just copy everything. Where I did buy games for the 8bit, the ST was a different matter and I'm pretty sure I only purchased one game for that, and it was on sale. 

I don't think pirating was unusual in the US. In fact, I'd end up calling long distance to other BBS's to get games. At 300 baud and XModem, I think I probably spent more doing that than I would if I had just bought the darn game. 1200 and 2400 baud, which ZModem, helped resolve that little issue.
I also pirated a ton of stuff for the PC but by this time I had a job and I could afford games so I started buying much more. 

Hopefully there is a statute of limitations on piracy. :-D

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5 hours ago, Justin Payne said:

Here is how it worked for me.

In '83, we got our first programming class which had about 10 or 12 Apple ][+'s. One of the students would go to the library downtown where they had a computer room and he would get games from another guy and bring them back and sometimes share them with us (and sometimes he was a huge dick about it). After school our teacher stayed after so that we could work on our programs but one day during the week he would let us play games and those games were all pirated. That's where it first started for me but about the same time I got an Atari 800 and since I had no storage, I'd play Star Raiders and type in BASIC programs from magazines.  Finally I got a tape player but that thing was totally unreliable when it came to saving my programs so lots of typing for nothing. Still, I wasn't pirating tapes. It wasn't until I got a disk drive and a modem that the real pirating started.  I would dial into a few local BBS's and hang out chatting ing the forums. Some people took a liking to me and invited me to a pirate party. At first, I was just given software but over time I got a hold of other sources and then would trade with my friends, although at some point the party portion became more of a priority than the pirating so we'd end up inviting other more interested in the software. We'd just show them were the disks and computers were, tell em what we wanted copies of, and let them take as much as they wanted. Then we'd all go drink beer and hang out at the lake.

Another way we got software was to go to the local computer store, copy it, and return it. When they caught onto that scam we'd get a group of people to buy in on the game, copy it, and then the person that paid a certain majority would get to keep the original. One of my buddies was also somewhat good at Assembly so he could sometime get around the copy protection if our copy wouldn't cut it. Still, it was $10 - $15 for a box of disks and I sometimes just couldn't copy everything. I remember you could use the plastic case the Indus GT came in as a disk box and that thing was pretty full but I knew people that would collect everything.

When I moved up to the ST, pirating was even easier and I still have tons of disks from those days since disks were way cheaper. At that point I would just copy everything. Where I did buy games for the 8bit, the ST was a different matter and I'm pretty sure I only purchased one game for that, and it was on sale. 

I don't think pirating was unusual in the US. In fact, I'd end up calling long distance to other BBS's to get games. At 300 baud and XModem, I think I probably spent more doing that than I would if I had just bought the darn game. 1200 and 2400 baud, which ZModem, helped resolve that little issue.
I also pirated a ton of stuff for the PC but by this time I had a job and I could afford games so I started buying much more. 

Hopefully there is a statute of limitations on piracy. :-D

Thank you for sharing. It was a great read ! Basically, a different world with BBS. Highly likely, with me coding in 6502 Assembler at age of ~13, I'd probably end up in jail for hacking some IRS server, if that thing was available during my time, so it's a Good Thing (TM) that I grew up behind Iron Curtain :lol: 

 

On Atari XL, the pirating became easy once Turbo 2000 hit the streets, as then you could have way more than just ~4 games per tape. Disk drives - nobody had them on Atari, it was 100% tapes. We switched to floppies on PC, and that was still about 5-7 years before first official game store opened up.

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8 hours ago, Justin Payne said:

If no bugs roll in then that means you had good manual and automated QA test coverage. That's how it's supposed to go. 🙂

In the real world, it just means the they won't find the bugs until after they are in production. ;)

 

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On 9/10/2019 at 4:32 AM, VladR said:

That begs the question : Just how much piracy was there in U.S. in early '80s ?

 

Did kids freely exchange/copy tapes/disks at elementary school ?

 

So exactly how widespread was the piracy in the 8-bit arena in U.S. ?

 

 

It's one thing to buy expensive $800 Atari as a Christmas present, but quite another beast to "feed it" games on a regular basis over next many years...

My dad purchased all of his software, which consisted of a Word Processor and a Data Base program, I don't remember the names. The only software I ever purchased was when I could save enough with my paper route to afford the $30 - $50 cost of a single game. I remember specifically purchasing Movie Maker, Ghostbusters, and Frogger. I had several friends with A8's, We shared all of our disks and cartridges. Some disks were copy protected and we could figure out how to copy them until middle school - Our art teacher had an Atari 800. He knew a lot more than us, so naturally he helped us and gave us many, many games. First time I had a working copy of Bruce Lee was from him, and he showed us how to use a hex editor. Naturally we spent many hours searching for text in games and changing said text to swear words, our names, etc. So after that we had a huge collection of copied games and software.

 

Other friends had C64's and some had Apple 2e's, and I have to say they had just as much pirated software as the rest of us.

 

Similar stories for the ST and Amiga I owned later, only at that point they had Pirate BBS's. But I also purchased more software at that point because I had a real job.

 

 

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TL:DR, and there’s going to be a LOT of contentious stuff in here.

 

So I grew up with piracy. I’m fairly certain I got a mention on a scroller once... I know a friend of mine definitely was on more than one, and hacked one or two games himself. I knew odd people who were part of the scene. I even arrived at someone’s house as he was in the middle of being raided by the police, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

I’m a child of the 70’s. Had a Binatone pong machine, then a VCS. My parents certainly weren’t wealthy, but picked us (my brother and I) a selection of games for it. Indeed we ran that puppy for a LONG time, mopping up games when the prices of them plummeted.

 

Next came 8-bit computers, which were huge here in the UK. Cheapest was the Spectrum, many people ended up with these (me included, we were deeply envious of those that got C64s). We might see an Atari 800 in a big department store, but I didn’t know anyone with one. Apples and PCs were business machines no one could afford. Most people didn’t have disk drives leaving your Spectrum and C64 games on tape. Which is where it all started. A cheap tape to tape ghettoblaster was all you needed to copy your mate’s games at school. So yeah, we all still bought games, but there were LOADS for the Spectrum and most were shit. So you bought games, but you also copied them for your mates and they copied theirs for you.

 

Later on when copy protection got smarter, interfaces started to turn up that could snapshot and save games states beyond the copy protection. I had one of these, by this point copy protection had become so convoluted I even snapshotted many of the games I had bought just to get around the complete ball-ache that were code wheels, manual look ups and the dreaded Lenslok. This was the start of the trend of hardware appearing to circumvent copy protection.

 

Then came the 16 bit machines and for me, the golden days of computer gaming. I used to attend the Huddersfield ICI working men’s club back in the late 80’s - early 90’s. Once a month this was a room full of people with ST’s and Amigas. 40+ machines wouldn’t be unusual (all running from maybe 4 wall outlets). Most Amigas would be running X-Copy with 3 external FDDs sat on them and a big pile of blank floppies. People there would be made up of people just copying stuff, coders, and a few members of some of the northern hacking groups. It was just a massive social event where a lot of like minded nerds got together, played games, copied games, and showed off demos and what have you. Indeed I remember it’s the only time I saw a Falcon when they came out and one of the coders had it and was just showing stuff he’d written on it.

 

Did piracy occur there, certainly. None of it was for money (that shit happened later and it wasn’t cool, killed it for me). It got raided a couple of times, but someone always found out it was going to happen. For those nights we still went and just had a Sensi-Soccer tournament or what have you as the whole point of the thing really was nerds being social (I have life-long friends I met at this place) however oxymoronic that may seem as a concept. Sadly as with all good things, it came to an end. I know of a few people who attended that club who went on to have notable success in the games industry ironically. For the rest of us there were smaller clubs, but none had whatever it was that the ICI had and they eventually petered out.

 

Actually their death knell was people coming into them with the express intent of selling stuff. People started to be wanted to be paid for downloading stuff and sticking it on a CD. One thing led to another and everyone bailed. I know it’s hypocritical that when it became about people ‘making money’ out of it that some twisted form of morality should kick in, but that’s just what happened in this case.

 

Personally this is when consoles started to pick up again here. We passed over the NES, it just didn’t really happen in the UK, the cost of the carts killed it. The Master System was way bigger but still really didn’t make an impact. The SNES and the Megardrive however did. With the waning interest and stalling of the 16 bit computers it was those and PCs that started to gain traction. Piracy on the PC was less interesting because of people trying to profit from it so I didn’t really do that even though I had one (to play Doom of course, which I owned along with just about all the games I ran on that machine come to think about it). However, still knowing people that hardware thing re-appeared and I got myself a Super UFO for the SNES. Again, we didn’t buy many games in the UK down to the sheer cost of the things so rentals were huge. With a UFO you only need to rent a game once to copy it’s ROM to a floppy… I remember being a member of all the video rental stores that rented SNES games for that reason. I still bought games mind you, just not many for the SNES because the UFO took care of things so effectively. Now these devices were not common at all bear in mind, and one upside you have to this is an extensive collection of ROMs for your emulators now. But of course, morally speaking, it was dubious as hell.

 

Beyond this we’re getting to the Playstation generation and mod-chipping. By this point I think that the culture had just become entrenched here. The PSX was easily the most modded machine I can think of. I knew of so many people who weren’t nerdy at all with chipped Playstations. By this point I was heavily into buying imports for it, so my ability to play CDRs was a byproduct of me wanting to play other region originals. Which is the way I pretty much went. I was working and earning well by this point and could afford to buy the games so I did. Amusingly meaning that by the time we got to the most pirated machine of all time (it’s likely…) I had mostly originals. Give it it’s due though, I got into electronics by modding old computers and consoles, so it wasn’t all bad.

 

I did still continually buy games during this entire period. Shit loads of the things because the games that were good warranted it. Not just on moral grounds, but because when you bought a game back then, you got a lot for your money in terms of packaging and manuals. This of course doesn’t justify anything, but this is what happened and this is my account of it.

Edited by juansolo
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It was endemic in the UK. With the c64 we had folk in the town I lived in who worked in germany from time to time and had access to US releases that weren't even out in the uk(this was pre us gold days)

Roll forward to the ST and again plenty of cracks were available. Once you get into it it turns out it was very easy to get hold of anything you fancied. The upside of al of this is that it means that the games are nowadays easy to acquire.

Did anyone know that a lot of the commercial compilations were derived from cracked games?

 

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Doesn't surprise me at all. A lot of the packers they wrote ended up being used in commercial things. Not something you could ever complain about really.

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On 9/17/2019 at 5:40 AM, juansolo said:

I used to attend the Huddersfield ICI working men’s club back in the late 80’s - early 90’s. Once a month this was a room full of people with ST’s and Amigas. 40+ machines wouldn’t be unusual (all running from maybe 4 wall outlets). Most Amigas would be running X-Copy with 3 external FDDs sat on them and a big pile of blank floppies. People there would be made up of people just copying stuff, coders, and a few members of some of the northern hacking groups. It was just a massive social event where a lot of like minded nerds got together, played games, copied games, and showed off demos and what have you. Indeed I remember it’s the only time I saw a Falcon when they came out and one of the coders had it and was just showing stuff he’d written on it.

This more or less describes what the user group meetings I used to go to in Dublin were like.  Things were a bit different in Ireland: the ZX Spectrum was certainly around and in reasonably wide use, but didn't make quite the splash there that it did in the UK.  Commodore seemed to (mostly) rule the roost, with the VIC-20 and later the C64 being the machines I remember as being the most popular.  In line with the UK, however, Ataris weren't as common; there was really only one main retailer (Peats) in the Dublin area, and I think possibly one in either Cork or Limerick; that was it for the entire country.

 

That said, our meetings were total copyfests as well, both 8- and 16-bit.  More on that a bit further down:

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Did piracy occur there, certainly. None of it was for money (that shit happened later and it wasn’t cool, killed it for me). It got raided a couple of times, but someone always found out it was going to happen.

We never had raids, but at the time the Gardaí (police) had virtually no understanding of software copyright, or computer-related offences in general at the time.  This put us fairly low on the totem pole in comparison to other problems they had to deal with (drugs, assault, robbery, terrorism, etc.), so were essentially ignored.

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Actually their death knell was people coming into them with the express intent of selling stuff. People started to be wanted to be paid for downloading stuff and sticking it on a CD. One thing led to another and everyone bailed. I know it’s hypocritical that when it became about people ‘making money’ out of it that some twisted form of morality should kick in, but that’s just what happened in this case.

This was a problem that we also had at one point.  Expensive phone calling rates and the sometimes subpar nature of the phone system at the time meant that, being a small country, it was more effective to just copy everything and either hand it off or mail it directly to whoever it was that wanted it.  I used to receive bricks of floppies (think three to five disk 10-packs taped together) at school, take them home, and bring them to the User Group meetings later.  It was just how things worked.

 

That's not to say that downloading didn't happen (occasionally from out-of-country BBSes), but I'm not going to get into how it took place.  Suffice to say that it wasn't always legal and that it did result in unwanted attention on a couple of occasions.

 

In any event, once people started asking for money for copied software (as opposed to just giving them blank tapes or disks in exchange), things became somewhat fragmented.  The best way I can describe it is that it resulted in the creation of two groups: people who pirated for profit, and people who pirated for the sake of trading software.  This had the effect of stagnating the scene somewhat, since anyone who had paid for a copy didn't want to give it away for free, and anyone who had obtained a copy for free didn't want to see someone else profit off of a free copy that they passed to them.

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Personally this is when consoles started to pick up again here. We passed over the NES, it just didn’t really happen in the UK, the cost of the carts killed it.

Nintendo didn't even really bother with the Irish market until the SNES came out.  They did eventually (1988-'89 or so) start selling them in Ireland - but only at the Virgin Megastore in Dublin.  I did receive a UK model NES prior to the official Irish 'launch', but never really got into it - computers could do so much more, and, frankly, when you have to import all of your cartridges at a 30%-plus premium due to VAT and import duties, it's just not worth it.

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I did still continually buy games during this entire period. Shit loads of the things because the games that were good warranted it. Not just on moral grounds, but because when you bought a game back then, you got a lot for your money in terms of packaging and manuals. This of course doesn’t justify anything, but this is what happened and this is my account of it.

I'll admit it: I had next to no original software for the Ataris.  Not to make excuses for it, but that was the norm in Ireland for pretty much all platforms at the time.  Currency exchange rates, shipping costs, import duties, and VAT made even what would have been UK£1.99 budget titles into games that had to retail for IR£4 or IR£5.  Sure, there absolutely was copying happening for the sake of having the latest games or what have you, but in a lot of cases it was done because very few people could afford to purchase software at retail.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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14 hours ago, prog99 said:

Roll forward to the ST and again plenty of cracks were available. Once you get into it it turns out it was very easy to get hold of anything you fancied. The upside of al of this is that it means that the games are nowadays easy to acquire.

Did anyone know that a lot of the commercial compilations were derived from cracked games?

Wasn't there a magazine that got in trouble in the 1990s for putting a cracked game on a cover disk as a demo version?

 

Trying to remember if it was the ST, Amiga, or PC that this happened for, but can't quite recall.

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2 hours ago, x=usr(1536) said:

Wasn't there a magazine that got in trouble in the 1990s for putting a cracked game on a cover disk as a demo version?

 

Trying to remember if it was the ST, Amiga, or PC that this happened for, but can't quite recall.

 

One once used the Pompey Packer on their cover disc in an issue where they were attacking piracy. A mate of mine highlighted the hypocrisy to them. Fair play they published his letter and he ended up getting a shout on the next PP disk scroller ;) 

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