Flight Simulator 1 was probably the most infuriating program
I encountered on the TRS-80, except perhaps for Interlude :-).
Apart from being dreadfully slow, it was written for cassette loading
and used its own mini-loader and its own cassette input code (at 500
bits per second?). I suppose this was so that the program could even
be used on the Level 1 computer, which supported cassette I/O at 250
bits per second only (for no apparently good reason I think!).
The mini loader was the first level of copy protection - most people made
analogue audio copies of this program. The second level was that the code
went through some kind of translation during or after loading. I don't
recall whether I was able to work through that translation properly.
Anyway the patch given here has nothing to do with copy
protection; it allows my joystick to control the ailerons
The Microsoft Adventure was fun, lots of fun. I had previously
played "adventure" on a DEC System-20 at Deakin University where
my uncle Peter Caldwell was a lecturer. I also played it extensively
at a symposium called Computing-80 which was run by NSWIT in
1980. Each school was invited to send one or two computing-aware
students from years 10 through 12 to the symposium, and I was the
"delegate" from my high school. I had to pretend that I was in
Year 10, because I was actually in Year 9, and so strictly speaking
I didn't qualify for the event ... but then again, I was more than
qualified for the material covered.
We sat in University-like classes for a week where we were taught
such staples of computing science as Structured Programming and
Recursion. That was okay, but in our off-hours we got to play on
NSWIT's mainframes, and boy did we ever play. I seem to recall we
had an account on their Pr1me system, which had Adventure, and I
spent many hours drawing a map of Colossal Cave, and got about
two thirds of the way through the puzzles by the end of the week.
I spent most of my time hanging around with a boy I met there
who was very intelligent. His name was Ian Gronowski (sp?).
Like me he was also a Year 9 student. He
introduced me to the Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy (this is
in the days when it was a radio play _only_, no fancy books nor
games, and it wasn't known to every geek on the planet then)
and the works of Harlan Ellison, particularly Deathbird Stories
which he was reading at the time, and which I didn't get my
own copy of until I visited a large bookstore in the USA.
I wanted to get Ian's contact details but unfortunately he didn't
attend on the last day of the event and so I lost contact with him,
except that I saw his name and photo in the newspaper one day. He
was the top HSC student of my year, earning 499 marks out of 500.
Oh yes, back to Microsoft Adventure. I got that on diskette for
christmas. It permitted perhaps 3 copies only to be made. I didn't
want to ever lose this program (I still have the original diskette
and its packaging). So I spent around 4 days straight playing the
game until I had solved it, then another 2-3 days straight working
out its copy protection mechanism so that I could copy it.
The copy protection mechanism is quite straightforward and also
quite effective. All the tracks and sectors on the disk are
numbered differently to the norm. The norm is tracks 0 through 39
(or 79 for those of us with 80-track disk drives) and sectors
0 through 9 (or 18 or 35 when double-density is added to the picture).
Anyway the Microsoft Adventure was shipped on a single-sided
single-density 40 track diskette so we're only talking 0-39 and 0-9
here. Well the track and sector numbers were mapped so they went
127, 125, 123, etc. instead. This was excluding the boot sector
which was necessarily written with the standard numbering, and
possibly all of track zero.
So the copy task simply became a matter of writing a disk formatter
which would use the mapped numbers, and a full-disk copy tool which
would use the mapped numbers too. I wrote both of those in about
2 days and that was great.
Later I was told that SUPERUTE (an amazing mega-utility written by
Kim Watt) could copy that program by using its "special copy"
function (or something like that). SUPERUTE would read each track
and analyse its contents (sector lengths etc) and then build a
special format on the fly for the copy. It was truly a spectacle
of overkill. I bet my custom format/copy was a lot faster.
Anyway this directory contains a disassembled source for the original
boot sector, with the mapped track and sector numbers, and a modified
one which does not map the numbers. Yep, I figured out after a while
that there was no point preserving the copy protection, so I wrote
it to a standard diskette and I patched out the mapping code in both
the boot loader and the game itself.
My "trs80-disk-utils" package contains a collection of the format
and full-disk-copy programs which I used to accomplish this feat.