Fred, a completely unrelated piece of information, but interesting
Elnec device programmers are very famous for the number of devices it
programs and its robustness. Also for their clones. If you open a cloned
beeprog you cannot differ it from an original beeprog.
I still haven't completely reverse engineered the protection, but it seems
to be related to the serial number. If any host software beyond 2.63
detects a "fake programmer" it BRICKS the cloned prigrammer. Yes, rends it
useless. You gotta reprogram a pair of eeproms and a pic to make it work
You told about the prolok plus erasing hds and I remembered of this atitude
from elnec. And no, I know of no one that sued elnec
for bricking their
So bad. They are great programmers, I have an old beeprog.
73 de pu2sex Alexandre
Enviado do meu Tele-Movel
Em ter, 2 de nov de 2021 17:35, Fred Cisin via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org>
On Tue, 2 Nov 2021, dwight via cctalk wrote:
The trickiest protection I've seen is where
there is a hole punched
through the disk on one track. The idea is that the protected program
writes to that track and expects to see a failure to read that track.
doesn'tneed to be a hole all the way through, merely any physical
defect that renders that spot unusable.
The "Physical Defect" protection.
Copy protected disks had already been made with flawed content to produce
an error on READ, and were easily circumvented by the "duplicate" copy
having flawed content. The next step was to have a physical defect, so
that the protection software would WRITE to the bad track, and confirm
that the track really was damaged.
So, they would scratch the disk.
In the case of Prolok, the check to confirm a physical defect consisted of
writing all zeroes to that area; verifying all zeroes; writing all ones;
and verifying all ones.
Vault Corporation produced "Prolok" with a physical defect. To make it
MUCH MORE IMPRESSIVE to investors and clients, instead of a roomful of
people scratching disks with paperclips, they used a "laser fingerprint"
(use a laser, instead of a paperclip).
Since they gave the same or similar subroutines, that checked for the
defect, to every client, it was cracked with software that would locate
that subroutine, and replace the subroutine call with NOPs or gut the
innards of the subroutine. The cracks were often posted on Compuserve.
(Vault sued Quaid software for "CopyWrite"/"RAMKEY")
For "cloning" (pirating copies, often with the Central Point Option
board (flux hardware)), software was developed that would
identify the location of the defect, the cloner would then attempt to
scratch the disk at that location, and then the software would locate the
defect and juggle stuff around to put the content in the right place(s)
relative to the defect.
But, Vault Corporation wasn't satisfied until they shot themselves in the
foot with very high caliber rounds.
They announced "Prlok PLUS". W. Krag Brotby (chairman of Vault) said that
it would, if it detected a "fake" copy, wipe out the user's hard disk!
Even at the announcement of Prolok PLUS, the computer marketing
community was aghast and enraged. It doesn't take much to realize the PR
nightmare, and the legal liabilities for damaging a customer computer,
even if it was NOT a false positive!
Ashton-Tate, the largest Prolok client for dBase III, and part
owner of Vault, immediately cancelled their contracts. And announced
that they had done so, that they had never used Prolok Plus, never would,
and no longer used Vault Corporation products.
Almost all of Vault's other clients follwed suit.
Prolok Plus never made it to market!
'Course the "word was out". Few people realize that it was NEVER
actually put to use. In fact some of the more idiotic newspaper "solve
your computer problems" columnists, when stumped, would actually speculate
"maybe your computer was attacked by an out of control copy-protection
So, we ended up with a mythical monster, and the creator of that mythical
monster was vanquished.
If anybody can document an actual existence of Prolok Plus, I would like
to hear about it.
There is little mention of it on the web, but:
"Re:Ahhh, holes burned in disks (Score:5, Informative)"
Kryoflux display of Prolok
Grumpy Ol' Fred