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Wednesday, November 11, 2020


Here's the manual for the software that got me through the first two years of university: Paperclip. Paperclip was pretty primitive compared to modern word processors, but it did precisely what I needed it to do: made it possible for me to type and print my assignments instead of writing them longhand, which would have surely doomed my chances at graduation. 

Paperclip came with a unique form of copy protection: the Paperclip Key, a small grey dongle you plugged into the Atari 130XE's joystick port. Without the dongle, the software wouldn't operate. It took me years to wonder idly if the key was just an electronic switch that made the computer think a joystick button was being held down. So I pulled out the key, plugged in a joystick, held down the fire button, and lo and behold the software worked. A determined pirate could have copied the software, plugged in a joystick, and held the button down with electrical tape. Still, they wouldn't have gotten the manual, and for all the bother why not just buy the software...

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

You... you... you figured out dongles?! Wow, I am impressed. I remember having to fork out several hundred clams for a dongle I needed, imagining that it was packed with circuitry and anti-tamper traps. All along, a piece of tinfoil and a string in a plastic box. I salute you, Earl!