IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

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Moebius
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IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by Moebius »

Greetings!

As is evident from the thread's name this is about early days' disk-based (floppy) copy protection and games that ever used it. It seems that it isn't exactly trivial to pinpoint every single type/version of CP brand or dig out its original name. I thought this has to be given a little more attention as we are about to launch extended support for various advanced sector-type (hybrid) and flux-based dumps on our website (you can see the address in my profile) and intend to provide every bit of information about protected products like that, ranging from hash values to exact types and names of CP schemes in question to help us and others verify their dumps. Some of it has already been discovered whereas the rest is still due investigation. Any additional notes and clarification regarding this would be very much appreciated.

At this point we are more or less familiar with the following brands and their methods:

- Az-Tech Everlock
- BBI StopCopy
- Best Protection Kit A/B
- COPS Copylock 1/2
- Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
- Formaster Copylock
- HLS Duplication
- Microprose Protection 1/2
- Mindscape DEM
- Non-standard Sector Sizes (name?)
- On-Line Systems Protection #1
- Origin Systems OSI-1
- Rob Northen Copylock
- Sector ID Duplication (name?)
- SmartCAM (was this one ever used for PC games?)
- Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x.x/3.x.x
- SuperLock (another one?)
- Titus' A001prot/Megaprot (are these the same?)
- Vault PROLok (versions?)
- VTERM II
- Weak Bits Generic Implementation 1/2 (is that really what it's called?)
- Waydisk Minder/Minder03 (same thing?)
- XELOK/XEMAG

Below is the list of physically protected games both DOS and PC Booter type using some of the above identified methods:

DOS (KEY DISK)

'Nam 1965-1975
007 Licence to Kill
4 Soccer Simulators / Waydisk Minder
4th & Inches
4x4 Off-Road Racing
Ace of Aces
Action Fighter
After Burner / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Air Duel
Airborne Ranger / MPS protection 2
Ajax / HLS Duplication
Alphabet Zoo
Allan Border's Cricket
Alter Ego (Female version)
AM-FM Trivia vol. 2 / Waydisk Minder
Arac (Spiderbot)
Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge!, The / MPS protection 2
Amazon
Ancient Art of War
Ancient Art of War at Sea, The
Ancient Land of Y's
Apollo 18
Arcticfox
Argus
Arkanoid (Imagine)/ Non-standard Sector Sizes
Arkanoid (Taito) / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader
Arkanoid II: Revenge of Doh / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader
Astrilis
Attack
Attack On Altair
BC's Quest for Tires (PC version) / Formaster Copylock
BC's Quest for Tires (Tandy version) / Sector ID Duplication
Bad Dudes / HLS Duplication
Balance of Power / ?
Batman The Caped Crusader / HLS Duplication
Batman: The Movie
Battlestorm
Beverly Hills Cop / Rob Northen Copylock
Bionic Commando
Black Caudlron, The (AGI2) / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
Block Buster / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Block Buster (2nd release) / Formaster Copylock
Blood Money / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Blues Brothers, The / ?
Bombjack (Rob Northen Copylock)
Bop'N Wrestle / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Boot Camp / HLS Duplication
Boulder Dash II (?) / Waydisk Minder
Boulder Dash II (?) / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Boulder Dash Construction Kit
Bruce Lee Lives
Bubble Bobble / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x
Bubble Ghost
Bully's Sporting Darts
By Fire & Sword / ?
Cadaver (?)
California Games / HLS Duplication
Carl Lewis Challenge
Carrier Command
Castle Wolfenstein
Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess
Championship Baseball
Championship Golf The Great Courses of the World - Volume I Pebble Beach
Chessmaster 2000, The
Chip's Challenge
Computer Baseball / Formaster Copylock
Contra
Cool World
Crazy Cars / A001prot
Crazy Cars III / A001prot ?
Creative Contraptions
Crime Does Not Pay
Crusade in Europe
Cyberball
Dam Busters
Dark Castle
Dark Century
Darkseed
Death Sword
Decision Base
Decision in the Desert
Deep Space Operation Copernicus
Defender of the Crown
Deja Vu: A Nightmare Comes True!!
Dick Tracy
Dive Bomber
Dream Warrior
Dunjonquest: Morloc's Tower
Earthly Delights
Entity
F-15 Strike Eagle II version 451.01 / MPS protection 2
F-15 Strike Eagle II version 451.02 / MPS protection 2
F-19 Stealth Fighter version 435.01
F-19 Stealth Fighter version 435.02
F-19 Stealth Fighter version 435.04
F40 Pursuit Simulator
Fast Break
Final Assault
Fire and Forget
Fire & Forget II
Floppy Frenzy
Football Manager / Waydisk Minder
Forgotten Worlds
Four Crystals of Trazere
Frank Bruno's Boxing / Waydisk Minder
Frank Bruno's Boxing / Rob Northern Copylock
Frightmare
GBA Championship Basketball Two-on-Two No
GFL Championship Football
GFL Championship Football
Galactic Gladiators
GATO / Formaster Copylock
Games Winter Edition, The
Gauntlet (1st release) / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Gauntlet (2nd release) / HLS Duplication
Gemini-2
Gertrude's Secrets
Ghosts 'N Goblins / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Goal
Grand Prix Circuit (early version) / HLS Duplication
Gunship version 429.01 / MPS protection 1
Gunship version 429.03 / MPS protection 1
Gunship version 429.04 / MPS protection 1
Gunship version 429.05 / MPS protection 1
Hardball! (Disk 1) / HLS Duplication
HardBall! (Disk 2, EGA Disk, early version only) / Formaster Copylock
Hard Drivin'
Hard Drivin' II
Hard Hat Mack
Heavy Barrel
Highway Patrol II / Megaprot
High Roller
Hook
Horror Zombies from the Crypt / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Ikari III: The Rescue
Impossible Mission II / HLS Duplication
In Search of the Most Amazing Thing
Indoor Sports
Infiltrator
Infiltrator II / Mindscape DEM
International Open Golf Championship
Into the Eagle's Nest
Italy 90 / Mindscape DEM
Jackal
Jetsons: The Computer Game
Jr. Pac-Man
Jurassic Park
Karateka
Kickoff 3
Kids on Keys
King of Chicago, The
King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (PC version) / Formaster Copylock
King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (Tandy version) / Sector ID Duplication
King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (AGI2) / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne (AGI2) / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
King's Quest III: To Heir is Human / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
Knight Force
L.A. Crackdown
Labyrinthe des Pharaons, Le / A001prot
Lamborghini American Challenge
Last Ninja, The
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (v1.00 AGI v2.440) / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
[s]Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (v1.00 AGI v2.917) / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3[/s]
Lemmings (1st & 3rd releases) / Rob Northern Copylock
Lemmings 2: The Tribes / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Lethal Weapon
Lode Runner
Lombard RAC Rally
Loremaster
Lost Patrol
Lothar Matthaus Championship Soccer
M-Chess
M-Chess Professional
M1 Tank Platoon / MPS protection 2
Master Ninja Shadow Warrior of Death
Math Rabbit
Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing!
Maxit
Mean 18
MegaTraveller 1 (?)
Mental Blocks
Might & Magic I: Secret of the Inner Sanctum
Might & Magic II: Gates to Another World
Mindfighter
Mindshadow
Mind Probe
Mind-Roll
Mini-Putt / HLS Duplication
Mixed-up Mother Goose / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony / Origin Systems OSI-1
Moon Bugs
Moptown Parade
Nobunaga's Ambition
Off Shore Warrior
Oh No! More Lemmings / Rob Northern Copylock
Omncron Conspiracy
Oo-Topos / XELOK/XEMAG
Oil's Well / Formaster Copylock
Operation Wolf / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader
Operation: Cleanstreets
Original Scrabble
OutRun / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Paperboy (1st release) / Mindscape DEM
Paperboy (2nd release) / Formaster Copylock
Paperboy (3rd release) / Rob Northern Copylock
Pipe Dream (EU version) / Minder03
Pinball Wizard / Formaster Copylock
Platoon
Pole Position
Portal
Positronic Bridge
Prehistorik / A001prot
Prehistorik II / Best Protection Kit-B
Project Neptune
Pushover
Puzznic / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader
Quink / Formaster Copylock
QIX / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader
Race Drivin'
Rack'em
Rad Warrior
Rambo III / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader
Rambo: First Blood Part II
Rampage
Rastan / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x)
Reader Rabbit v3.0
Reader Rabbit
Red Storm Rising / MPS 2
Rendezvous with Rama
Renegade / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader)
Revenge of Defender
Rick Dangerous / MPS 2
Rick Dangerous 2 / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Rising Dinasty / Cops Copylock II
Robocop
Robot Rascals
Robot Odyssey
Rocky's Boots
Rocket Lander
Rogue
Rollo and the Brush Brothers
Rush'n Attack / HLS Duplication
S.D.I.
Sapiens
Sarge
Sargon III / XELOK/XEMAG
Savage / MPS 2
Search & Destroy
Serve & Volley
Seven Spirits of Ra
Shadowgate / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Shangai
Shinobi / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Shufflepuck Cafe
Sid Meier's Pirates! (432.02+) / MPS 2
Sierra Championship Boxing (1984 version) / Formaster Copylock
Sierra Championship Boxing (later release) / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
Sierra's 3-D Helicopter Simulator / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3 with Sierra's Loader
Sky Shark / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader)
Sleepwalker
Snack Attack II
Snooper Troops: Case #1 (version 1.0)
Snooper Troops: Case #2 - The Case of the Disappearing Dolphin
Snow Strike
Socrates (don't know if it's a game or not)
Space Harrier / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
Space Racer
Space Station Oblivion
StarQuest: Rescue at Rigel
Star Trek: The Kobayashi Alternative
Star Wars
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Stormlord
Street Sports Basketball
Street Sports Soccer
Stunt Car Racer / Stunt Track Racer / MPS 2
Sub Battle Simulator
Sub Mission
Super Caulrdon / ?
Super Hang-On
Super Pac-Man / HLS Duplication
Super Tennis / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Superbike Challenge
Superstar Ice Hockey
Super Tennis / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Sword of the Samurai / MPS 2
TFX
Temple of Apshai Trilogy
Test Drive / HLS Duplication
Test Drive II: The Duel / HLS Duplication
Test Drive II: Car Disk Muscle Cars
Test Drive II: Car Disk The Supercars
Test Drive II: Scenery Disk California Challenge
Test Drive II: Scenery Disk European Challenge
The Games: Summer Edition
The Train: Escape to Normandy
Thexder / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3
Think Quick! version 1.0
Three Stooges, The
Thud Ridge
ThunderBlade
Thunderstrike
Times of Lore
Titus the Fox: To Marrakech and Back / Best Protection Kit A/B
Toobin'
Top Gun / Formaster Copylock
Tracer Sanction, The
Train Escape to Normandy, The
Trains / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Transylvania / ?
Treasure Trap
Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness / Origin Systems OSI-1
Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress (Trilogy version) / Origin Systems OSI-1
Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress (1983 & 1984 versions) / Formaster Copylock
Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress (1985 version) / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.x/3.x with original loader
Ultima III: Exodus (1984 & 1985 versions) / Formaster Copylock
Ultima III: Exodus (Trilogy version) / XELOK/XEMAG
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar / Origin Systems OSI-1
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny / Origin Systems OSI-1
Uridium
Video Trek 88
Voyager
WWF: European Rampage
Where in the World is Carmen San Diego
Wild Streets
Willow
Winter Challenge World Class Competition
Wizardry III
Wizball
Wizkid
Word Search Puzzle
Word Spinner
World Championship Soccer / Waydisk Minder
World Karate Championship
World Tour Golf
X-Men: Madness in Murderworld / MPS 2
Xenon 2: Megablast / Rob Northern Copylock
Zap'em


PC Booter

Adventure in Serenia / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Agent USA / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Amnesia / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Archon: The Light and the Dark / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Battlezone
Below the Root / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Boulder Dash II: Rockford's Revenge / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Bruce Lee
BurgerTime
Centipede
Commando
Conflict in Vietnam
Crossfire (IBM PCjr version) / Formaster Copylock
Defender
Dig Dug
Donald Duck Alphabet Chase
Donald Duck's Playground / Softguard SUPERLoK 2.0.3 with Sierra's Loader
Eden Blues
F-15 Strike Eagle
Frogger / On-Line Systems Protection #1
Galaxian (Tengen version by Thunder Mountain)
Galaxian (Atari version)
Gremlins / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Guerrilla War
Hacker II / Vault PROLok 2.0
Hard Hat Mack / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Harrier Combat Simulator / Weak Bits Generic Implementation
Ikari Warriors
Ikari Warriors II: Victory Road
Jungle Hunt / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Karnov
King's Quest I (IBM PCjr version) / Non-standard Sector Sizes
King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne
Lock On
Lode Runner
Marble Madness / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Microsoft Flight Simulator (v1.00) / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Microsoft Flight Simulator (v2.10)
Moon Patrol
Mr. Cool / Formaster Copylock
Ms. Pac-Man (Namco version by Thunder Mountain)
Murder on the Zinderneuf / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
One-on-One / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Pac-Man (Namco version by Thunder Mountain)
Pinball Construction Set / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Pitstop II / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Robotron 2084
Seven Cities of Gold, The / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Sid Meier's Pirates! (v432.03) / Non-standard Sector Sizes
Sierra Championship Boxing
Silent Service
Solo Flight
Spiderbot / Waydisk Minder
Stargate
Summer Games II
Super Boulder Dash / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Timothy Leary's Mind Mirror / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Touchdown Football
Trivia 101
Troll's Tale / Formaster Copylock
TV and Cinema 101 Trivia from Talkies to Trekkies
Ulysses and the Golden Fleece / On-Line Systems Protection #1
Will Harvey's Music Construction Set / Electronic Arts IBM Interlock
Winter Games
Wizard and the Princess / Formaster Copylock
World Games / Non-standard Sector Sizes

If any related titles are missing don't hesitate to post updates, please. Also, it would be great to know which tools and software/hardware combinations are most suitable for every specific type of CP method e. g. Teledisk, Transcopy, Kryoflux, Supercard Pro, etc. This has been discussed sparsely on different boards, but I think it's time to consolidate it all into one thread. Again, any help would be greatly appreciated.
Last edited by Moebius on Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:34 pm, edited 6 times in total.

ZrX
Posts: 612
Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:09 pm

Re: IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by ZrX »

The main issue is the vast amount of different protections. KryoFlux originally started with the Amiga in mind and the technicalities of protections used there are quite well known. Next came the C64 and handling of major protections were added to the main software.

Now Apple/Atari/PC/etc. came when some more people got involved, and it became clear that adding "automatic" support/handling to the various protections on various platforms becomes very difficult and messy to maintain.

Not to mention what kind of suitable end formats capable in handling protected images exists for different emulators.

A new software has already been under development for quite a while that aims to ease the handling of different kinds of disk formats in the hands of more experienced users.

As the KryoFlux raw stream format is well documented several third party developers have produced their own tools to process dumps into various emulator formats.

SomeGuy
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:18 pm

Re: IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by SomeGuy »

What, no productivity applications?

Many, many, early titles did rely on simplistic custom copy protection methods.
it would be great to know which tools and software/hardware combinations are most suitable for every specific type of CP method e. g. Teledisk, Transcopy, Kryoflux, Supercard Pro, etc
There is an extensive comparison here: https://forum.winworldpc.com/discussion ... ival-tools

In a nut shell for IBM PC disks:
Flux level archivers: Almost anything that can pass under the drive head. Weakbits and non index aligned tracks are problematic. Obviously not laser hole protection. IBM PCs do not have to deal with "half" tracks or "spiral" tracks. Assumes the media matchs the drive.

Software copy programs: All limited to what a real FDC can read and write, often using "diagnostic" reads.

CopyIIPC: Generally supports the most methods, but operates by deteing, and in a few cases, patching known protection methods.

Teledisk: Not meant for copying protection, only oddball formats. Can detect FM/MFM, odd geometries, intentionally fake IDs, duplicate sectors, different sector sizes, and more.

ImageDisk: Similar to TeleDisk, but does not support duplicate sectors, fake track IDs, or mixed sector sizes per track.

There are/were a variety of other less common DOS based copiers that could similarly duplicate some protected disks.

No time to create a list right now, but a few that stick out:
FrameWork 1.0, 1984 by Ashton-Tate - laser-hole protection.
Lotus 1-2-3 Release 1.x and 2.x - notable because IBM had to used cracked versions to demonstrate their new 3.5" based IBM PS/2 computers.
Cdex Training for VisiCalc - Tracks have misnumbered numbered sectors, At least I think that is protection, the entire thing is P-system.
IBM Assistant series and PFS: series - most used misnumbered sectors, later releases used duplicate sectors.
Paradox 1.0, 1985 by Ansa Software - SoftGuard protection, KF copies seem to fail on some machines where the original would work, yet work on others.
Microsoft Word 1.15 for DOS - protection displays the text: "THE SHADOW KNOWS Trashing program disk" if a debugger is present.
VisiCorp Visi On - Lots of garbled formatting as obfuscation, uses extra track to write serialization info, which also intentionally makes a previously readable sector unreadable.
Harvard Presentation Graphics A.00 (1.00), 1986 by Software Publishing Corp - multiple, but installation clobbers hidden data in the "gap" area at the end of several sectors like a ticket punch, to detect how many times the program was installed. Devious, because analysis tools will show the sectors as perfectly normal. There is no way to restore this data using a normal FDC. Also it fails in emulators because timing-perfect systems will never clobber this data.
Microsoft Excel 1.00 for Macintosh - actually not quite sure, anyone want to test the KF dump on winworld?

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Moebius
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Re: IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by Moebius »

Now Apple/Atari/PC/etc. came when some more people got involved, and it became clear that adding "automatic" support/handling to the various protections on various platforms becomes very difficult and messy to maintain.

Not to mention what kind of suitable end formats capable in handling protected images exists for different emulators.
Yes, dumping protected media is a pretty dubious enterprise to begin with which by and large is not worth the candle especially in the case of floppy media. Quite frankly, I never really wanted to bother with it. Want the game to work - just crack the loader for God's sake. However, I noticed that there is quite a few CP maniacs out there who want to feel perfectly "legit", which is why we have finally taken turn in this direction.
What, no productivity applications?
Thing is, we are more focused on games since WinWorld is taking care of apps. However, we still officially accept the latter, just that they are lower priority at this point. Either way, any related information is welcome, of course, as I suspect there should be a considerable overlap with respect to the subject in question :)
Many, many, early titles did rely on simplistic custom copy protection methods.
Could you name any specific ones?
There is an extensive comparison here: https://forum.winworldpc.com/discussion ... ival-tools
Thank you, very interesting! Don't think I've seen that thread before. I have a few questions, though:

1) Which is really the better option, Kryoflux or Supercard Pro? I saw that you mentioned SCP as being specifically suitable for copy protection, but how come Kryoflux is still more popular? My understanding was that most Kryoflux users were after a device that could produce perfect digital replicas of their media where CP wasn't the least tidbit. Turns out it was never the right choice?

2) How is Copy II PC+Snatchit combination superior to Teledisk exactly? You didn't mention its potential with regards to copy protection in that article.

3) Why was Teledisk superseded by Imagedisk and how much of it holds true? I mean, I don't know anyone who decided to downgrade from Teledisk to Imagedisk, for all I know the latter has always been considered inferior. Besides:
ImageDisk: Similar to TeleDisk, but does not support duplicate sectors, fake track IDs, or mixed sector sizes per track.
4) Is it safe to assume that Transcopy is just a compact flux-based format?
Teledisk: Not meant for copying protection, only oddball formats. Can detect FM/MFM, odd geometries, intentionally fake IDs, duplicate sectors, different sector sizes, and more.
Matter of fact, I've already been told this by Chuck(G) from another board :) Nonetheless, Teledisk has been to this day our no. 1 software-alone solution for protected media, as it is both user and emulator friendly now that 86box supports it too. Surely, it can't handle all possible schemes, but is still pretty flexible. It definitely "understands" Softguard Superlok 2/3 and MPS protection 1/2, which were used for Sierra, Taito and Microprose games respectively. All are based on overlapping sectors according to this: http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/201 ... -disk.html. Is that something you would call primitive?
CopyIIPC: Generally supports the most methods, but operates by deteing, and in a few cases, patching known protection methods.
Interesting. So, if this area is partially damaged/garbled, could it reproduce the original pattern? Suppose I have a raw IMA/IMG image that contains some bits of a former CP track (you can always see it in hex editor). Could Copy II PC autocomplete it or does it require the entire sequence after all? Sorry, I'm just trying to get a full picture here :) Also, do you know if there is a good tool that could detect and name some CP brands other than noguard and neverlock? These don't seem adequate enough...

Incidentally, you never mentioned Anadisk. I know it's positively inferior to Teledisk and Imagedisk, but how exactly? Also, what do you think of Hampa's PSI format? Up to this day we have thought that is what the golden middle should be as it seemed to display a lot of potential, even though you can't write it back directly. Turns out it wasn't the case?
No time to create a list right now, but a few that stick out:
Thank you!

SomeGuy
Posts: 271
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Re: IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by SomeGuy »

Could you name any specific ones?
One that comes to mind is VTERM II because it was so simplistic. All they did was write a compleatly normal format to the 41st track. The program checks for it and refuses to start if it is not present.

Some other protected titles are in the "IBM Personally Developed Software series", surprising because the applications were so small and budget-oriented they hardly needed protection. As I recall most that were protected just used a misnumbered sector.

I'll see if I can compile a more complete list sometime.
1) Which is really the better option, Kryoflux or Supercard Pro?
They are very close in functionality, so it is hard to call one better. The KF has more momentum, and the provided toolset has more features, but some consider the KF licensing a drawback. The better question is will there be more alternatives? I've read about several possible lower-cost boards that make use of smaller on-board processors.
2) How is Copy II PC+Snatchit combination superior to Teledisk exactly? You didn't mention its potential with regards to copy protection in that article.
Mainly because back in the day as it was developed it was explicitly tested against most known copy protected titles. I'm sure I have come across a more than few that it would copy that Teledisk would not, but I don't recall the details off hand.
3) Why was Teledisk superseded by Imagedisk and how much of it holds true? I mean, I don't know anyone who decided to downgrade from Teledisk to Imagedisk, for all I know the latter has always been considered inferior. Besides:
ImageDisk is an open source program and the file format is published, making it ideal for preservation. Teledisk is proprietary, and the format was not officially documented, although most has probably been reverse engineered by now.
4) Is it safe to assume that Transcopy is just a compact flux-based format?
That is exactly what it is.
Interesting. So, if this area is partially damaged/garbled, could it reproduce the original pattern?
No, what I mean is Copy II PC will actually patch the code on the floppy disk. Not exactly an unprotect, but enough for it to make a copy. I think I have only run in to one instance of that, and in that case Snatchit would not work as it does not save the changes. I seem to recall there was more information about this in the documentation.
Incidentally, you never mentioned Anadisk. I know it's positively inferior to Teledisk and Imagedisk, but how exactly?
As the name suggests, it is geared more towards analysis rather than copying. If one ever ran in to a weird format, one could take a closer look at the details using Anadisk. It could do things like viewing data in gap areas or viewing sectors with missing headers that a normal controller would not see. I was under the vague impression that it shared some of the back end code with Teledisk, but I could be wrong.
Also, what do you think of Hampa's PSI format? Up to this day we have thought that is what the golden middle should be as it seemed to display a lot of potential, even though you can't write it back directly. Turns out it wasn't the case?
I don't really see it as a good preservation format. As you mention, it can take some futzing to get a workable PSI image of a protected disk, and then the results can not be written back. For example, overlapping sectors must be separated out, which is possible because it can artificially extend the track forever. That may fool copy protection in to working, but the results can not be written back to disk. I'm also not entirely sure how "carved in stone" the format is. If the emulator evolves, the format could evolve with it.

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Moebius
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Re: IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by Moebius »

One that comes to mind is VTERM II because it was so simplistic. All they did was write a compleatly normal format to the 41st track. The program checks for it and refuses to start if it is not present.
Thank you, it's been added to the list!
I'll see if I can compile a more complete list sometime.
Looking forward to it :)
They are very close in functionality, so it is hard to call one better. The KF has more momentum, and the provided toolset has more features, but some consider the KF licensing a drawback.
Yes, that's what I hear time and again. Speaking of alternatives, is Transcopy really a worthy opponent to KF and SCP? I know it's obsolete and poorly documented, but at the end of the day, I noticed people who have a vast expertise in this area eventually end up being in favor of Copy II PC Deluxe / Transcopy. Granted, one of the catchy pros is compact size, but I know nothing about the rest other then it's definitely more powerful than software-alone means. How does it treat weak / strong / fuzzy bits exactly?
ImageDisk is an open source program and the file format is published, making it ideal for preservation.
Yes, but how does it score against raw binary format? Apart from "oddball" formats and a couple of CP methods I see no advantage. I don't really like hybrid formats as I call them to begin with, they are harder to hexview because of compression or metadata or both, so there goes another significant drawback incompatible with the word "ideal" I'm afraid unless this format is as flexible as Teledisk at the very least.
That may fool copy protection in to working, but the results can not be written back to disk.
I guess it's next to cracking loaders, which would probably be a better solution than creating an illusion of a working CP. Same goes to Imagedisk and Teledisk though, you can't successfully write protected dumps back unless you convert it. Or your mean in the case of PSI something is irreversibly lost during conversion from flux dumps?
If the emulator evolves, the format could evolve with it.
Yes, it's already happened twice I'm afraid. First it was PSI, then PFDC, then PSI again... PCE tools have also changed. I don't really understand what's going on as Hampa is not always explicit about his actions if at all. It looks like his stuff is meant for personal use mostly, not much for public. I hope he realizes that such actions may put at stake many hours of preservation attempts, even if it's meant for emulation alone.

Anyway, I've reflected on all this a few times over and have arrived at a sad conclusion: we have no choice but to preserve protected media in every possible format after all, be it for emulation or otherwise for as long as there is no universal solution. Thank you for all the valuable input, though! Keep it coming, please.

SomeGuy
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:18 pm

Re: IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by SomeGuy »

is Transcopy really a worthy opponent to KF and SCP? I know it's obsolete and poorly documented, but at the end of the day, I noticed people with a vast expertise in this area eventually end up being in favor of Copy II PC Deluxe / Transcopy. One of the catchy pros is compact size, but I know nothing about the rest other then it's definitely more powerful than software-alone means.
Like the Copy II PC software, the Copy II PC Deluxe / Transcopy board was tested on protected titles of the day as it was developed. This sort of gives things a level of "authenticity" that can be important to some collectors.
How does it treat weak / strong / fuzzy bits exactly?
I'm a little fuzzy on that :) The software says it will detect and copy that stuff but I don't have much experience with that. The one time I messed with a title that I *think* had weak bits, it appeared that third party tools did not recognize that part of the TC file format and just discarded that information. This is where the lack of documentation rears its ugly head. While saving TC dumps is a good idea, it would be foolish to rely on a TC dump as the only dump for a title.
Yes, but how does ImageDisk score against raw binary format? Apart from "oddball" formats and a couple of CP methods I see no other advantage. I don't really like hybrid formats as I call them to begin with, they are harder to hexview because of compression or metadata or both, so there goes another significant drawback incompatible with the word "ideal" I'm afraid unless this format is as flexible as Teledisk at the very least.
Ideally, it is good to know the geometry of a disk, and raw binary images strip that information. It would be a fine format if more programs supported the IMD format.

But in practice, people writing standard 360k, 720k, 1.2mb, and 1.44mb IBM PC floppy disk images are used to using WinImage, which is much friendlier and runs inside Windows, even Windows 10 and with USB 720k/1.44mb drives.

Personally, I run in to "oddball" DOS disks all the time. Anything from the early 80s is actually quite likely to be formatted for DOS 1.x or formatted under a buggy version of DOS 2.0, which omits geometry information in the boot sector. I've even seen factory mastered DOS disks that have a completely blank boot sector. WinImage won't touch those.
Same goes to Imagedisk and Teledisk though, you can't successfully write protected dumps back unless you convert it. Or your mean in the case of PSI something is irreversibly lost during conversion from flux dumps?
Imagedisk and Teledisk are usually fine if the protection method was not too complicated for them.

Yes, in the example I gave, overlapping sectors that are split out looses the details of the actual layout. They can not really be re-combined and in a complex protection scheme it will not be obvious what was supposed to overlap with what or where.

So, what I normally do is analyze a disk dump, and reduce for the "lowest common denominator".

If a disk is copy protected I will usually include:
KF, SCP, TC dumps.
CP2, IMD, TD0, or other DOS based software dumps IF they are tested and shown to make operational copies.
An unprotect if one exists.

If a disk is not protected I will usually include:
IMG if it standard 160k, 320k, 180k, 360k, 720k, 1.2mb, 1.44mb IBM PC DOS format or standard 400k/800k/1.44mb Macintosh format.
IMD if it non-DOS FM/MFM, 160k, 320k, 180k DOS 1.x format, or otherwise incompatible with WinImage.

SomeGuy
Posts: 271
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2015 8:18 pm

Re: IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by SomeGuy »

Ok, here is a more complete list of known copy protected productivity application titles based on what is archived on Winworld.

Something to keep in mind, however, is that much copy protected application software simply has not been archived. It is also not always clear if some early titles were copy protected - infoworld/magazine reviews can be very handy in this regard, as they would usually state if a title was protected or not.

Ansa Paradox 1.0 (1985) - SoftGuard
Arborist Decision Tree Analysis [TI Professional Computer] (1985) - misnumbered sectors, false track id, and false size/overlapping on track 39 of disk 3.
Ashton-Tate Framework 1.0 (1984) - Laser hole
BPI Inventory Control C.13 (1986) - Manual suggests it is copy protected, but I don't see any.
BPS Business Graphics 2.61 (1983) - Misnumbered extra sector on track 0.
Brown Bag Word Processor 2.55 (1985) - Protection method: Overlapping duplicate sectors on track 8 head 0.
Carbon Copy - Serial Number based
Cdex Training for the VisiCalc Program (1983) - odd sector numbers, p-System, intentional bad sector on last track.
Chart-Master 6.1 (1985) - Misnumbered sector on track 5.
Cubasis 1.00 for Macintosh (1994) - possibly fake bad sectors on disk 2. Laser hole? Mac 1.44mb format.
dBASE III v1.0 - Laser hole
Diagram-Master 5.01 (1985) - Misnumbered sector on track 5.
Easy Writer 1.0 (1982) - Misnumbered sectors on track 5
Easy Writer 1.1 (1982) - Misnumbered sectors on track 39
Finance Manager 1.0 (1984) - Odd sized sector on track 6
Freelance Graphics 1.0 for OS2 (1990) (3.5-1.44mb) - same as 1-2-3/G for OS/2
Harvard Presentation Graphics A.00 (2-27-1986) (5.25-360k) - multiple; stores the text "SPC1986" in the gap
IBM Filing Assistant 1.00 (1984) - Duplicate sector on track 5.
IBM Graphing Assistant 1.01 (1984) - Duplicate sector on track 5
IBM Morse Code Drills 1.00 (1984) - Protection method: mis-numbered sectors on the last track
IBM Planning Assistant 1.00 (1984) - Duplicate sector #3 on track 5, head 0
IBM Planning Assistant 2.00 (1986) - Misnumbered sector on the last track.
IBM Reporting Assistant 1.00 (1984) - Duplicate sector #3 on track 5, head 0
IBM Writing Assistant 1.00 (1984) - Duplicate sector #3 on track 5, head 0
IBM Writing Assistant 1.01 (1984) - Duplicate sector #3 on track 5, head 0
Individual Typing Instructor 1.00 (1984) - Intentionally bad sector on track 39
Lotus 1-2-3 1.0a - (? unprotected)
Lotus 1-2-3 1.0A-star (1983) - Fake sectors without DAM on track 0 and 1.
Lotus 1-2-3 1.0A-star (1983) - Fake sectors without DAM on track 0 and 1. (Different code)
Lotus 1-2-3 2.00 (1985) - Misnumbered sector on track 17, odd sized overlapping sectors on track 19.
Lotus 1-2-3G 1.0 Beta Build 2 (1-28-1990) - mis-numbered duplicate sectors on the last track
Lotus Agenda 1.00 (1988) - Copy protected track until user serializes the disks.
Lotus Symphony 1.00 (1984) - multiple, no-dam, mis-numbered, odd sizes, overlapping. Other 1.x versions protected?
Microsoft Access Business Information Access Program 1.01 <- not copy protected, but 1.01 was.
Microsoft Excel 1.00 for Macintosh (1985) (3.5-400k) - Fake bad sectors? Not fully analyzed
Microsoft Excel 2.1 for Windows [French] - (Unknown protection method, dump is IMG only and will not run)
Microsoft Project 1.00 (1984) - Odd sized sectors on track 39
Microsoft Word 1.15 for DOS (1984) - Odd sized sectors on track 39, threatens to trash disk if debugger is present.
Microsoft Word 2.00 for DOS (1986) - Odd sized sectors on track 39
MusicPrinter Plus 1.1 (1988) - SoftGuard (Copies made with KF do not work in all machines)
NewWord 1.29 (1983) - Disk is encrypted until "unlocked" by phone.
PFS Access B00 (1984) - duplicate sector ID on track 5 head 0.
PFS File 1.00 [IBM OEM] (5.25) - duplicate sector ID on track 5 head 0.
PFS File A00 (1983) - misnumbered sector on track 35.
PFS File A01 (1983) - misnumbered sector on track 35.
PFS File B00 (1984) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
PFS File B01 (1985) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
PFS Graph A02 (1983) - misnumbered sector on track 35.
PFS Graph B00 (1984) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
PFS Graph B01 (1985) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
PFS Plan A00 (1984) - duplicate sector ID on track 5 head 0.
PFS Plan A01 (1985) - duplicate sector ID on track 5 head 0.
PFS Plan A02 (1985) - duplicate sector ID on track 5 head 0.
PFS Proof B03 (1985) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
PFS Report A01 (1983) - misnumbered sector on track 35.
PFS Report A01 (1983) - misnumbered sector on track 35.
PFS Report B00 (1984) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
PFS Report B01 (1985) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
PFS Write B01 (1985) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
PFS Write C00 (1985) - duplicate sector ID on track 10 head 0.
Professor DOS 2.30 (1986) - Overlapping sectors on track 10
Project Manager Workbench 2.20 - Misnumbered and dupe sector on track 39 head 1.
Quark Catalyst 3.0 for Apple II (3.5-800kb) - unknown
Springboard The Newsroom (1985) - odd sector sizes on track 39 head 0.
The Print Shop for IBM PC (1985) - misnumbered sectors on track 9
The Visible Computer 8088 1.10 (1986) - odd sized sector on track 6.
Total Project Manager 1.0B - data in gap. looks normal. (see https://forum.winworldpc.com/discussion/8315/ to get it working in PCE)
VCN ExecuVision Graphics Library disks (1984) - Invalid sectors on track 11. If the protection is not present, the application will refuses to see the disk..
Visi On Application Manager (Kryoflux) - Multiple: Overlapping, invalid sectors, serialization.
Visi On Calc (Kryoflux) - Multiple: Overlapping, invalid sectors,
Visi On Graph (Kryoflux) - Multiple: Overlapping, invalid sectors,
Visi On Plan (formerly Visi On Calc) - Multiple: Overlapping, invalid sectors,
Visi On Word (Kryoflux) - Multiple: Overlapping, invalid sectors,
VisiCalc 1.1 for IBM PC 256k (VC-177Y2-IBM) (1982) - misnumbered sector on last track.
VisiCalc 1.74A for Atari 800 32k (1981) (5.25-SSSD) - Unknown
VisiCalc Advanced for Apple III (1982) - Unknown
VisiCalc IV v2.0 (1983) - Multiple; misnumbered sectors, intentionally bad sectors, extra track.
VisiCorp VisiCalc (VC-202Y2-IBM) - misnumbered intentionally bad sector on last track
VisiFile 3.0 (kryoflux) - misnumbered intentionally bad sector on last track
VisiSchedule 1.2 (1984) - Multiple; misnumbered sectors, intentionally bad sectors, extra track.
VisiSpell 1.00 (1983) - misnumbered intentionally bad sector on last track
VisiSpell 1.00 Double Sided (1983) - Multiple; misnumbered sectors, intentionally bad sectors, extra track.
VisiTrend 1.3 (1983) - misnumbered intentionally bad sector on last track
VisiWord 1.00 (1983) - misnumbered intentionally bad sector on last track
Volkswriter Deluxe 2.2 (1985) - Multiple; odd sector size on track 4 and dupe on track 5.
VP-Planner 1.00 (5.25) - duplicate sectors on track 8
VTERM II (1984) - Extra empty track on 41st track.

Digital Research Multiuser DOS 5.00 - Dongle
Autodesk 3D Studio 2.0 (5.25-1.2mb) - dongle
Thoroughbred OS 6.6 (1987) - dongle
SuperDOS 5.2 (8088) - dongle
MicroStation 4.0.x - dongle


Suspected copy protected:

dBase III r1.0 second edition (copy protected), - ww does not have this
dBase III r1.1 (copy protected), - ww does not have this
dBase III Plus r1.0 (copy protected) - ww only has an unprotected copy
VCN ExecuVision 1.0
DoubleDOS 2.x - ww only has an unprotected copy
Microsoft Works 1.00 for Macintosh, first release.
Novell NetWare 2.x early were copy protected, requiring an ISA card with a hardware key.
Microsoft Access Business Information Access Program 1.00 (1985) - Similar to MS-Word 1.x. 1.01 is not copy protected.
WordStar 2000 r1.00
WordStar 2.0 early releases
IBM Storyboard 1.00

https://forum.winworldpc.com/discussion ... -pc-manual
From Copy II PC manual:

ATI Training Series
BPS Business Graphics <- WW has 2.61, but there may be other versions.
Bankstreet Writer (first version for IBM PC, WW has Bankstreet Writer Plus)
C-DEX Training Series
Chartmaster 5.0
ChartMaster 6.05, 6.1 <- WW has 6.1, but not earlier
Clipper - winter 84/summer/winter 85
Context MBA
Copyany <- of course some disk copiers will be copy protected :P
Cornerstone 5.1
Data Max
Diagraph 3.4, 3.41
Directree 3.5
Disk Optimizer 1.0, 1.2 <- Great name. From what company?
Dollars and Sense 2.00, 2.07
Double DOS v2.1R, 2.1T
Dr. Logo <- the IBM version was copy protected.
Easy Writer 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 <- WW has 1.0 and 1.1
Electric Desk 1.04
Enable 1.00, 1.01 <- ww has 1.1, that is not copy protected.
Executive Suite <- another great name
Fastback 4.8, 5.0, 5.03
Final Word
First Class Mail
Framework 1.1
Framework II 1.0 <- WW has Framework III. Wasn't sure about earlier.
Get Organized 1.1
Graph N' Calc
Harvard Project Mgr 1.14, 1.16,
Harvard Total Project Manager 1.08, 1.0B <- WW has 1.0B. 1.08 might be a typo.
HomeWord
IBM's Time Manager
Info-Gen
Info-Reporter
Instructor 1.0
Keymaster
Keynote
Keyswapper
Load Calc, prior to 4.10
Lotus 1-2-3, 1.0, 1-A <- WW has 1.0A but still not "1.0".
Lotus 1-2-3, 2.0, 2.01
Lotus 1-2-3 Report Writer
Managing Your Money 1.5
Mastertype
Maxthink 2.1
Memory Shift 1.0, 2.1, 2.2
Micro/SPF
Microsoft Word 1.0, 1.1, 1.15, 2.0 <- WW has 1.15, and 2.0 but not 1.0 or 1.1. (not counting the demo/beta)
Multi-Job
Multimate
Multiplan 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 <- the 1.x versions WW has are non-copy protected OEM versions.
Newsroom (some) <- So some IBM versions were not copy protected?
PCI Term
Picture Perfect 3.4, 3.41
Print Shop (Some)
Samna <- Must be I or II. It seems III and IV are not copy protected
Sidekick 1.10A, 1.11C <- hmm the 1.11c WW has is not protected or unprotected.
Sideways
SignMaster 5.05, 5.1
Smartwork 1.0 rel 2
Softerm 1.02.03
SPOC 1.0, 2.0
Spotlight 1.0, 1.1
Spreadsheet Auditor 1.05
Spreadsheet Auditor 2.0
SPSS 1.0, 1.1 <- there was a copy of this on ebay a while back
Super Calc
Symphony 1.0, 1.01, 1.1 <- ww has 1.0 but not later 1.x.
Tall Tree System Software <- Why would this be copy protected?
Typewriter by Powerup
Versaform
Viscalc <- Revisions ww does not have yet
Volkswriter <- others besides 2.2 are copy protected?
Vterm
WordVision

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Moebius
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Re: IBM PC disk-based copy protection schemes and games

Post by Moebius »

Thank you!

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