Author Topic: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone  (Read 34363 times)

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Offline slburris

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Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« on: October 07, 2010, 02:54:38 pm »
Check out this board over at iteadstudio.com.  It seems to have
3 firmware images, and depending on the jumpers it looks
like an Altera Byte Blaster, a Saleae Logic analyzer, or a
USBee AX.

http://iteadstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=221




I've seen Altera programmer clones before, and since they help Altera sell
chips, it seems like fair game to me.

I'm still thinking about the ethics of emulating the Saleae and USBee analyzers
so closely that those company's own software will run with this board.  And they
distribute that software on a CD for your convenience.  Hmmm......

And it's $50.

Scott
 

alm

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2010, 03:10:12 pm »
I'm still thinking about the ethics of emulating the Saleae and USBee analyzers
so closely that those company's own software will run with this board.  And they
distribute that software on a CD for your convenience.  Hmmm......
I don't believe they really emulate them, they are pretty simple in hardware (basically just a Cypress micro in DMA mode), and they load the firmware from their PC software, so as long as the vendor ID is correct, the software will happily load the firmware into the micro. Almost zero effort on their part compared to Saleae/USBee. I don't consider it ethical, especially since Saleae and USBee are both fairly small and young companies, which doesn't make any difference for the law, but does for me. Stealing from the poor is worse than stealing from the rich, in my opinion. I don't mind hobbyists building a clone, but I wouldn't sell/buy one. I wouldn't be surprised if it would be illegal to sell in countries with strong IP laws like the US, but I'm not a lawyer.
 

Offline TopherTheME

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010, 04:15:34 pm »
I like to boycott products like this. I'd rather spend the $150 on the original Saleae logic analyzer from sparkfun rather than buy a cheap (and most likely crap quality) one-hung-low clone from china. Cheap clones have their place (i.e. programmers) but I like to support small innovative hobby targeted business when possible, especially when its in the US.
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Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2010, 05:05:01 pm »
I like to boycott products like this. I'd rather spend the $150 on the original Saleae logic analyzer from sparkfun rather than buy a cheap (and most likely crap quality) one-hung-low clone from china. Cheap clones have their place (i.e. programmers) but I like to support small innovative hobby targeted business when possible, especially when its in the US.
Immitation is the sincerest form of flattery. ;D
I know nothing about this product or the original but If you need a logic analyzer and only have $50 then why not? its not a lost sale but you have a potential customer in the future.I bought a pickit 2 clone because I percieved the microchip original to be expensive.I used it for some months then bought a real pickit2 because of it's better features.You could say that I wasted my money on the clone which up to a point is true, but it performed a usefull function and allowed me to assess my needs.If it was merely a copy of the original then I would agree that it was unethical but it claims to be an emulator and as such stands on its own.Would need to research a lot more the ins and outs but have no problems with an emulator par se.Stand to be corrected though.
<Edit spelling >:(>
« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 05:09:42 pm by FreeThinker »
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Offline TheDirty

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2010, 09:08:14 pm »
The PicKit is a programmer, though.  It's not a profit centre for Microchip.  In the end it helps them sell product to get more people with programmers.

The issue here is that the clone here can now use the Saleae or USBee logic software which is a substantial cost.  I know from the Saleae blog how much man hours of work went into the cross platform software.  So, buying a Saleae or USBee a lot of the cost is recouping software development, which the clone gets for free and part of the reason for the reduced cost.

Personally if it wasn't for that issue, I would have no problem buying the clone and I wouldn't worry about quality.  There's not much to these things and you can buy 3 for the price of 1 Saleae.
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Offline allanw

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2010, 09:12:25 pm »
I bought one of these along with a PCB order. They had 10% off going.

Am I a bad person?

The price point is the same as the open logic sniffer:

http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9857
 

alm

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2010, 09:20:38 pm »
Am I a bad person?
Yes. This was the answer you were looking for, right?

The price point is the same as the open logic sniffer:
http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9857
I don't see the connection. The open logic sniffer was developed by volunteers, nothing wrong with not paying for work people give away for free. At least you support their project if you buy it, and nobody will complain if you make your own boards based on their design and software / bitstream (unlikely to be worth it, since the price is basically parts + assembly + some profit for the assembler, Seeedstudio).
 

Offline allanw

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2010, 09:26:33 pm »
That's true. I wasn't trying to justify the purchase by saying that there's another product priced the same. This one just had more features.

Cloning other products and improving them is probably an easy way for them to make money. Both Seeedstudio and itead sell their cloned improved arduinos.
 

Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2010, 10:01:48 pm »
Ok getting confused here (again).As I understood it the unit is an emulator and was compateable with the software supplied on disc.Is the software hacked and infringing copywright?If not then please explain the problem as I am not getting it, as I seid I know nothing about these things so perhaps I should shutup but I would like to know the issues here  ???
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alm

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2010, 08:36:47 am »
As I understood it the unit is an emulator and was compateable with the software supplied on disc.
My information is limited to what's on the ITeadStudio site, but I believe they use a similar Cypress PSOC, and use the jumpers to change the PID/VID. A post on the ITeadStudio website about Hack a Saleae logic analyzer describes a similar method, and my guess the same guy used it for this product. I would hardly call copying the PID/VID emulating, not to mention the mess of using other people's product ID's (those PID/VID combo's were supposed to be unique for each manufacturer and product).

Is the software hacked and infringing copywright?
The software is not hacked as far as I know. Some of the clone manufacturers even link to the Saleae / USBee website for software, so I think it's unmodified. My main issue is moral: the guy from Saleae worked like 1.5 years on the new software, to use with his product, is it fair to use it without paying? USBee spent a lot of time on their software, too. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm quite sure that the license agreements from both Saleae and Usbee state that the software can only used in combination with their products, so using the software with a clone would be copyright infringement, since you don't have a license to use it.

This is similar to Rigol suggesting people to create arbitrary waveforms in the Tektronix software and importing these into the Rigol software, because their own software is crap. If you're going to sell a product, get your own supporting software, or license it (either open source or for a fee).

This is one of the reasons why some manufacturers make you jump through hoops like registering serial numbers before you can use their software.
 

Offline TheDirty

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2010, 12:27:00 pm »
Technically it's a hack, even though all they needed to do was emulate the vendor ID on the clone hardware.

However you look at the software is being used illegally.
Mark Higgins
 

Offline Hypernova

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2010, 12:35:42 pm »
As I understood it the unit is an emulator and was compateable with the software supplied on disc.
My information is limited to what's on the ITeadStudio site, but I believe they use a similar Cypress PSOC, and use the jumpers to change the PID/VID. A post on the ITeadStudio website about Hack a Saleae logic analyzer describes a similar method, and my guess the same guy used it for this product. I would hardly call copying the PID/VID emulating, not to mention the mess of using other people's product ID's (those PID/VID combo's were supposed to be unique for each manufacturer and product).

I have used the EZ-USB series MCU before so I'll elaborate. Basically with these things you have several otions when it comes to firmware.

-By default on start up if there are no I2C EEPROM with the firmware it presents itself as a certain cypress MCU (with cypress PID/VID) to the PC's USB, you can use it in this state by loading firmware using cypress free utilities. However this mode should only be used for dev work.
-second option is pretty usual, have whole firmware sit on the EEPROM and it's loaded at start up.
-Third one is the most interesting, the EEPROM only contains the PID/VID for the MCU to present itself to the PC as. It is up to the vendor to load the firmware into the micro as part of the driver initiation process (cypress supplies all the needed API's to do this). The good thing about this is that you can easily update firmware by having customer download new drivers. No need for special programmers or bootloaders when you need to push updates.

From the third point its obvious that what ITead did was to have 3 separate  EEPROM's with other company's VID on them, Saleae's drivers can't tell the difference since all they can go by is the VID's, it will happily load Saleae's firmware into the the micro and it's impossible to tell the difference as far as the PC side user software is concerned.

Saleae does have a way to lock things down in the future however, they can choose to store some type of unique key in the spare space of the EEPROM (current scheme only use 4 bytes for the VID's) and set up some sort of registration/account control scheme. Obviously this is to the detriment of legitimate users.

ITead basically took advantage of the inherent firmware security loop hole of the whole EZ-USB scheme, this isn't emulation at all, more like spoofing.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 12:40:38 pm by Hypernova »
 

Offline TheDirty

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2010, 01:08:44 pm »
^ It would be nice to be able to give rep or something as that's a good explanation.  Thanks.
Mark Higgins
 

Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2010, 01:33:57 pm »
Right think i've got it!
It's NOT a copyright issue but a MORAL one.Try takeing that to court!Was it immoral when Billy Gates bought the rights to QDOS for $50 grand and sold them (nearly untouched) to IBM and made millions? Probably but not illegal.Is it immoral to hack the rigol scope to 100mhz when you only paid for a 50mhz model? The bottom line is Hackers will hack cos they can, end of.Money is a side issue to them, it's Kudos.Morals do not enter into it.I won't buy one (I don't have a need) but the percieved moral issue would not deter me If I did.Protecting your product is the FIRST rule of business, bitching about it when you don't is just silly.
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alm

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2010, 01:57:10 pm »
It's NOT a copyright issue but a MORAL one.
Did you take the USBee and Saleae license agreement to a lawyer to come to this conclusion? How do you know?

Try takeing that to court!
Actually there is something called moral rights in copyright law, but that doesn't have anything to do with the issue at hand. I think USBee and Saleae would stand a pretty good chance in this case if it were sold in any country which enforces copyright laws, and they would be willing to spend the necessary resources.

Is it immoral to hack the rigol scope to 100mhz when you only paid for a 50mhz model?
Note that the scope is a different issue, since Rigol at least got paid for the 50MHz scope. Is it moral to sell hacked scopes? Is it legal? As long as it's just some hackers, nobody really cares, but if you make it a commercial product, that's a different ball game. Many jurisdictions recognize this, compare civil copyright infringement with criminal copyright infringement.

Protecting your product is the FIRST rule of business, bitching about it when you don't is just silly.
I disagree. Copyright protection hurts legitimate users, it would be a disservice to the users to require something like software activation. Companies used to publish full schematics, they stopped that to make cloning harder (among other reasons), which is bad for us users of said equipment. Closing equipment, potting, firmware encryption and signature verification all makes the product less functional and less repairable for the customer.

Note that your statement also makes Creative Commons non-commercial licenses (which Dave prefers) worthless, since you by definition can't open up your design and allow people to copy and modify it, but protect against commercial use. Only legal protections can help in that case.
 

Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2010, 02:57:25 pm »
It's NOT a copyright issue but a MORAL one.
Did you take the USBee and Saleae license agreement to a lawyer to come to this conclusion? How do you know?

Try takeing that to court!
Actually there is something called moral rights in copyright law, but that doesn't have anything to do with the issue at hand. I think USBee and Saleae would stand a pretty good chance in this case if it were sold in any country which enforces copyright laws, and they would be willing to spend the necessary resources.

Is it immoral to hack the rigol scope to 100mhz when you only paid for a 50mhz model?
Note that the scope is a different issue, since Rigol at least got paid for the 50MHz scope. Is it moral to sell hacked scopes? Is it legal? As long as it's just some hackers, nobody really cares, but if you make it a commercial product, that's a different ball game. Many jurisdictions recognize this, compare civil copyright infringement with criminal copyright infringement.

Protecting your product is the FIRST rule of business, bitching about it when you don't is just silly.
I disagree. Copyright protection hurts legitimate users, it would be a disservice to the users to require something like software activation. Companies used to publish full schematics, they stopped that to make cloning harder (among other reasons), which is bad for us users of said equipment. Closing equipment, potting, firmware encryption and signature verification all makes the product less functional and less repairable for the customer.

Note that your statement also makes Creative Commons non-commercial licenses (which Dave prefers) worthless, since you by definition can't open up your design and allow people to copy and modify it, but protect against commercial use. Only legal protections can help in that case.
All of your points are valid.But In the real world this "Play Nice" attitude gets you EXACTLY whats youv'e got here..... screwed over.If any of the manufactures are concerned they can test their case in court ,but I doubt they will.If you want to take the moral high ground feel free but the vast majority of people in my experience will count the pennies first.If the software had been hacked or the firmware ripped then game on you have a solid case but that doesn't appear to be the case.Not saying it's right but thats life.
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Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2010, 06:15:10 pm »
Just had a look on the saleae website and must say it's some piece of kit.Compared to the clone the build quality is awesome, worth the extra for that alone.Factor in the support and warranty and it's a winner.Bookmarked for future reference.
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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #17 on: December 01, 2011, 05:35:34 am »
last but not least, after more than a year of discussion...
Counterfeit Devices
if something can select, how cant it be intelligent? if something is intelligent, how cant it exist?
 

Offline FreeThinker

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #18 on: December 01, 2011, 08:38:54 am »
last but not least, after more than a year of discussion...
Counterfeit Devices

Hmm! I think you only get that page if you have tried to access the Saleae site from the link on the Itead site  ;). (I think they check who directed you to the site). The Itead clone while cheap is not very good quality in the probe department and as the probes are fundamental to correct data capture it can make life difficult. By the time you have paid for some decent probes the cost difference is quite small (and you get a kick arse case). Just my 2cents.
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Offline kaz911

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #19 on: December 01, 2011, 08:46:36 am »
One can only wonder if they have bought the rights to use the IronMan picture on their "About" page.....
 

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #20 on: December 01, 2011, 10:28:18 am »
Hmm! I think you only get that page if you have tried to access the Saleae site from the link on the Itead site  ;)
pretty much i checked everything until i go back round here (based on the title) ;). i wonder though what make the difference between cheap and quality LA probes, they look the same from outside ??? lose wires (in my term).

One can only wonder if they have bought the rights to use the IronMan picture on their "About" page.....
1.5 years of software development... we should give our symphaty to them. i did msg them to suggest some improvements, they did reply thats a good thing. they said my suggestion is already in their "150 pages todo list" and stating the newer version of the software will come out mid 2012, i hope so, but 150 pages? wahhh, i expect Altium level software to come. errr, i didnt answer your question did i? i'm not sure, but at least they are honest saying only 2 of them developing the LA instead of 1 big company. i wouldnt mind about the IronMan, thats cute.
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Offline kaz911

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #21 on: December 01, 2011, 11:22:45 am »
One can only wonder if they have bought the rights to use the IronMan picture on their "About" page.....
1.5 years of software development... we should give our symphaty to them. i did msg them to suggest some improvements, they did reply thats a good thing. they said my suggestion is already in their "150 pages todo list" and stating the newer version of the software will come out mid 2012, i hope so, but 150 pages? wahhh, i expect Altium level software to come. errr, i didnt answer your question did i? i'm not sure, but at least they are honest saying only 2 of them developing the LA instead of 1 big company. i wouldnt mind about the IronMan, thats cute.

I have sympathy for the guys. But if they complain about people copying their design and using their software on "copied" versions - then at least they should not "steal" from a larger cooperations.

Any movie image usually needs to have a "This image has been purchased with Web Usage rights from XXY License Company" in either the EXIF data or as below the image.

My company does works on about 2000 copyrighted images a day for publishers, web shops and product manufactures around the world - and if we even show a thumbnail of any of the images without asking - the penalty in Europe is very high (By high I mean dependent on site visits so in our case maybe €2.000-4.000 pr. image just in penalty).... But buying a license to get the image for web usage would only have been about Euro 50,- in the first place - with prober (C) accreditation.

And I do like the iron man reference.. But they should just buy or beg for a proper license from the rights-holders. (if they do not have one already- which I doubt)  :-)
 

Offline amspire

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2011, 12:33:33 pm »
Copying a design is bad, but it can also be great. It is how the company handles the situation that matters and that is in their hands.

If they can play it  right, they can become the number 1 low end analyzer in the world and capitalize on it.

Back in the early 80's, a small company called AutoDesk released a program called AutoCad. It was expensive - I remember it costing thousands at a time a Honda Accord cost under $10,000. Through a combination of very cheap aCADEMIC copies to colleges and having almost no software protection, they became the package that every young engineer was using. It was really hard getting and using software from the big names of the time. Pirated copies of AutoCad were everywhere. Now Autodesk are one of the software giants, dominating CAD and 3D Animation.

Also in the 80's, there were about 3 big names in the PC Word processing business. Wordperfect, Wordstar, and DeskMate. All were fairly well protected with license numbers and limited distribution of the install program. These were very expensive programs targeting the business market, so they were not very affordable for home use at all. Microsoft released a nice little program called "Word" with absolutely no protection. Because it was the easiest one to pirate, it became the most widely used word processor. Both Autodesk and Microsoft new exactly what was happening, and they could have added license protection very early, but they chose not to. In fact it was "Word 2" - still with no protection - that really made a household  name for Microsoft Word.

So no-one wants to have designs stolen, but it is also exceedingly hard for tech companies to get people over the hurdle of learning their product  for the first time so they can use it. If Saleae published more design information so that the clones were better quality, and kept a working non-protected version of their software freely available (even if unlicensed use was not permitted), then they may be able to vastly expand their market without the huge cost of increasing hardware production, hardware distribution, warranty claims, etc.

Many companies would still insist on owning legal copies, so they would still buy it, if it was useful.

Saleae may be able to offer protected "Deluxe" versions of their software and hardware, and so if you were using the vanilla one, you would wish you could one day have the better one, and there would be no learning curve.

So Saleae could go the way of adding some ugly Authentication to their software, add some kind of unique encrypted hardware ID to their hardware and basically annoy all their paying customers and still be competing against the clones using their current software version. Or they can use the situation to their advantage and maybe become the cheap logic analyzer that all of us have and use by default.

Up to them.

Richard
 

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #23 on: December 01, 2011, 12:53:48 pm »
very good point and advice Richard +1 to that. and i wanna add that the logic is based on cheap $15 cypress dev kit, i believe they charge more on software development. but i dont know whether the saleae based on the dev kit first or some other chinese, so not sure which is first, chicken or egg. the new logic16 use the very same software development, by looking at Shahriar teardown, i cannot justify the $300 price point on the involved hardware (compared to things like Rigol or DDS3x25), but i dont know maybe because the business "chain" in their location is expensive (or that CNC'ed enclosure i dont know), but then they will have a hardtime competing with Chinese "interpreuner" and "clone master" soon. i was about to click the "buy it" for logic16, but 2 things, the price and i got some issue with the SW too. made me looking for another alternative. but guess what, they are out of stock for logic16! gotta wait few more weeks. i think if they got the stock, the logic16 already on its way to me right now.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 01:15:28 pm by Mechatrommer »
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Offline kaz911

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Re: Here's an interesting logic analyzer clone
« Reply #24 on: December 01, 2011, 01:17:44 pm »

Back in the early 80's, a small company called AutoDesk released a program called AutoCad. It was expensive - I remember it costing thousands at a time a Honda Accord cost under $10,000. Through a combination of very cheap aCADEMIC copies to colleges and having almost no software protection, they became the package that every young engineer was using. It was really hard getting and using software from the big names of the time. Pirated copies of AutoCad were everywhere. Now Autodesk are one of the software giants, dominating CAD and 3D Animation.

Also in the 80's, there were about 3 big names in the PC Word processing business. Wordperfect, Wordstar, and DeskMate. All were fairly well protected with license numbers and limited distribution of the install program. These were very expensive programs targeting the business market, so they were not very affordable for home use at all. Microsoft released a nice little program called "Word" with absolutely no protection. Because it was the easiest one to pirate, it became the most widely used word processor. Both Autodesk and Microsoft new exactly what was happening, and they could have added license protection very early, but they chose not to. In fact it was "Word 2" - still with no protection - that really made a household  name for Microsoft Word.

Actually that is quite a misrepresentation of history :-) Wordstar v?? and Wordperfect prior to V5.1 had no severe copy control and every fool could copy them (Bad sector on Install 5 1/4 inch disk in secret location - and could be copied with COPYMASTER software). Autocad had parallel dongle copy protection from the beginning. I worked for the Danish Distributor of Autocad late 80's start 90's- and Autocad was not easy to crack - but some clever guys did - and Autocad did not like it (at the time - that pushed them into being very active in BSA)

Microsoft Word did not take off .. due to lack of copy protection. But due to Word Perfect 5.x and later versions became so slow to work with that nobody wanted to - and the Windows versions "sucked" big time. Moving from DOS to Windows and "bloating" killed Wordperfect.

At that time I had become Editor of PC World Denmark. The hardcore writers stayed in Wordperfect - but in version 4.x for DOS - since many had special "editing page control" codes for layout built in - that was not available in Word or others (So what today is known as "HTML" had its beginnings as page description languages in publications - and HTML borrowed a lot from those systems)

But everybody else turned away from WP and moved slowly to Word.

But I do agree with your principle - just not in the history. Piracy and Free software to students and "private" usage - increases chances of mass market success. Prune them while they are young was IBM's motto...



 


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