Hacking a vintage BBC Micro into a $40,000 disc writer #VintageComputing #Security

Chris Evans takes a vintage BBC Micro from 1981 and looks at hacking its 2 MHz 6502 and peripherals to write nonstandard copy protections that required a $40,000 floppy duplicator in 1987.

One of the most iconic floppy disc protection stories is Dungeon Master. Released in December 1987, Dungeon Master combined an advanced physical disc format (fuzzy bits) with sneaky protection checks embedded into the gameplay itself.

The Dungeon Master protection was described by one of the DM authors:

We had the advantage of owning the patent on a floppy-disk copy protection scheme that required a $40,000 specialized hardware device to write the disks. It was impossible to create a disk image without this hardware, and the hardware itself was out of production.

The question: is the vintage BBC Micro and its peripherals capable of being hooked up to a vintage floppy disk drive and able to send the complicated control signals, at a fast enough rate, to write the same copy protections as the newer, much speedier, more pricey, floppy duplicator?

It turns out several peripherals on the BBC Micro -in theory- can, but due to hardware issues cannot. BUT! Chris uses one BBC Micro peripheral to do some things it’s designers never thought possible!

See the tears and the magic in the article here and the video below.


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