Parameter Cross Reference Library Interview

 In the spring of 1987 the Original Parameter Cross Reference for the C64 was released.

 1st edition was published in 1987 by E.A. Mallang III in Everett, Wash.

Dewey Decimal Class   005.265

Library of Congress      QA76.8.C64 M35 1987

What follows is that phone conversation I had with Edward Mallang back in Fall 1989. 

How did you start this project?  I felt there was a need for a copier cross reference  to aid users in making a legal backup of their software.

Did you do all of the testing yourself?  No I had help

How did you test so many programs?  Initially it was a lot of work and once the initial testing was done as new releases/updates came out, it was relativity easy to keep up. The Copiers were tested but a majority of parameter disks were not. When form of protection were developed and method to copy the protection was released. These first parameters or methods were tested to create a backup.

How did this series sell? Sold well enough to produce 7 released volumes and 3 disks.

Why did you stop at Volume  #7?  For the record there as to be Volume 8 but was never released to the public, only Volume 7.  Sadly the C64 market was starting to drop off and there were only afew companies left producing copiers.  For example Renegade offered a full suite of copiers, utilities and parameters.  There was a Super Card which had a full suite of copiers and a user could create their own parameter.

Is there any one copier you preferred ?  No not really this project was work with testing and updating the list.

 Did you have to purchase  all of the copy programs?  No the companies provided copies for us to test.  In order to be included in the book the copier and its parameters had to work.  A majority of the time copiers were returned in exchange for the latest version.  We did purchase a number of parameter disks.

Did you ever consider adding Action Replay or ISEPIC, etc to the copy list? I never considered the carts because the carts were a limited copier verses disk copiers which offered a full set of utilities and parameters.

In the late fall of 1989 in Run Magazine there was an ad for Parameter Cross Reference for the C64. A phone number was listed and gave Edward Mallang a phone call. A very nice gentleman answered the phone. I introduced myself as being big on the scene of disk copiers and expressed interest in purchasing the latest Volume. During our conversation I asked a number of questions about the Parameter Cross Reference for the C64.  I owned Volume 1 and was very familiar with the product and had seen other Volumes. He then ask me if I would like the manuscript for Volume 8 which was never going to be published and a bunch of original disk copiers.  I was flattered by the offer and said yes. About a week later I received a package that contained Volume 3, 4, the manuscript for Volume 8 and a bunch of original disk copiers. 

After looking for almost 30 year finally tracked down Parameter Cross Reference Volume 09. You can download it at the Bombjacks Website at
https://commodore.bombjack.org/commodore/program-protection.htm

NICKS SWIFT COPY

Recently I had the chance to sit down and interview the Creator of “Nicks Swift Copy.” programmer, innovator, inventor Nick Skreptos,  who was under 18 when he programmed “Nicks Swift Copy.”

The Copier was one of the earliest copiers that could duplicate an entire disk is under 4 minutes. When Nicks Swift Copy was released in November 1984 it was packed with a full set of utilities besides the fast copier.

V 2.0 was released in January 1985 with additional tools like a bit copier, file copier and the fast copier was improved to copy a disk in 3 minutes. He was very active in the Commodore Scene for a number of years besides the copier also wrote a top notch game called F 14 Tomcat and a number of utilities.

Tell me a little about yourself?

Nick Skrepetos was born and raised on a small farm in Ashland, OR. As early as he could remember, Nick was always innovating, whether it was trying to build a burglar alarm to keep is sister out of his room or trying to build a remote control boat out of parts from Radio Shack.

In 1984, Nick discovered computers which set in motion over 30 years of technology innovation and development. Later that year, Nick created a disc copying program entitled “Nick’s Swift Copy” that could copy a Commodore 64 Floppy disk in under 3 minutes, when other programs of the same nature would take over an hour to complete the same task.

As his father was a professor at a local college, in 1985 Nick created the Test Writer and accompanying Tester software for the Apple IIe and Commodore 64 platforms which was used by colleges across the nation. The software allowed teachers to create randomized tests and subsequently use the Tester product for students to take the tests. At the time, this was unheard of on an individual classroom level.

While in college, Nick joined Dynamix as a software developer and was the co-author of F14 Tomcat for the Commodore 64. Kevin Ryan and Nick Skrepetos created many unique and innovative technologies to squeeze every ounce of performance out of the Commodore 64 computer. After Dynamix, Nick joined Covox, a local voice recognition company, where he pioneered many advancements in voice recognition and audio technologies for the fledgling PC audio market.

Recognizing that audio severely suffered in the gaming industry, Nick pioneered the Sound Operating System in 1992, which allowed up to 32 individual sounds to be played simultaneously during game play – a first in the industry, where typically only a single sound could be played. The Sound Operating System was featured in over 500 games and 20 million homes worldwide and changed audio in gaming forever.

In 1998, Nick used his audio knowledge to create “InMotion 3D Audio Producer” with renowned 3D audio expert and MIT graduate, Bill Gardner. The product allowed you to draw 3d paths for audio to follow to produce realistic audio experiences for video games and videos.

As the Internet was really starting to catch on, and advertisers were learning how to monetize websites via pop-up windows and advertisements, Nick created “Pop-Up Stopper” to block these advertisements. Pop-Up Stopper was downloaded over 20 million times and sold nationwide in stores such as Costco, Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics, Walmart and also featured in media outlets such as Time Magazine, CNN, Newsweek and more.

With the Internet constantly changing, in 2004, Nick recognized that not only were ads annoying, but there were also new programs called “Spyware”, “Adware”, and “Malware” that were being maliciously installed on computers unbeknownst to end users. Many of these programs could steal the user’s information and send it to 3rd parties. SUPERAntiSpyware has been downloaded over 40 million times to date. In 2011, Nick sold SUPERAntiSpyware to a public company.

After selling SUPERAntiSpyware, Nick found himself married with children and enjoying the great outdoors again. As Nick was teaching his children the art of target practice, he realized they needed an easier way to see the hits on the target downrange. This is where he created the Bullseye Camera System to allow his children to see their shots without having to venture downrange. The innovative software will blink the last shot, so you can always see your last shot on the target, up to 1 mile away.

The Bullseye Camera System is now enjoyed by thousands of avid enthusiasts, gun ranges, and law enforcement personnel all around the world. The Bullseye Camera System has forever changed the target shooting industry.

Nick sold the Bullseye Camera Systems business in 2017 to GSM Outdoors. Nick then begin providing consulting for Northwest Community Credit Union in Eugene, OR to help bring some of the innovative and entrepreneurial methodologies into a larger corporation to help them become more agile and efficient.

In addition, Nick serves as the CEO of Northwest Innovation Services, a partnership between Nick and Northwest Community Credit Union. Northwest Innovation Services provides apps and innovative products to the financial industry.

Nick also founded MyShoppingHelper, LLC., which released its flagship product MyShoppingHelper, an app to provide shared shopping list functionality, price comparison, recipes and more, to smartphones in early 2017.

Nick’s most recent ventures are MyCoffeeHelper and MyMenuHelper which provide mobile ordering for the coffee and restaurant industries, where you simply order ahead via our app and have your drink or meal ready when you arrive!

Nick has a deep passion for innovation, technology, the outdoors, teaching, mentoring and guiding others.

What was your interest to create Nicks Swift Copy.

I was always fascinated by breaking copy protection schemes and protecting discs against copying. It started off in the Apple IIe days when my friends wanted copies of games, but couldn’t figure out how to copy. Many of the same techniques used on the Apple IIe protection schemes made their way over to the C64.

The first ad lists Nicks Swift Copy as being available November 1984, and it packed a lot of utilities for the time.

          Fast Copier

          Could create numerous disk errors of the time

          15 Second Format

          Sector Editor

          Full DOS Support

          Parameters

          Disk Analzyer

          Supported 1 or 2 1541 disk Drives

          Version 2.0 had the addition of a

          Bit Copier

          File Copier

          3 minute Copier

There were many copiers and Parameter disks that had a way to duplicate Nicks Swift Copy,  what type of protection was used and are you surprised by this fact.

It’s funny, I don’t remember all the different things we used. The one I know we did at the end was actually scratching the inner tracks of the disks with a pin so that they wouldn’t format – and if I could format the track, I knew it was a copied disk. Simple, but effective. I am not sure at what points the different iterations were released.

Did you know that in CSM newsletters they recommended Nicks Swift Copy as the goto copier to create a copy of an original disk.  The copy was then coded to create a fully working copy.   

I didn’t know that, or maybe I forgot – it’s be nearly 40 years ago!

Do you remember how many versions of Nicks Swift Copy were created or how many years it was in production.

I don’t – it was in production a few years for sure. The speed improvements in Version 2 were from changing the way the transfer was done between the 1541->C64 and better coding to handle the buffering and as I learned more in the realm of assembly optimizing etc.

How Many Copies did you sell of Nicks Swift Copy?

Between 500 to 700 copies were sold. 

Why did you stop producing Nicks Swift Copy?

I think I just moved on to other projects and passions and started my other companies.  Also, we were threatened by many video game companies regarding breaking and copying their protection schemes. So when I turned 18, the risks were too high.

Can you tell me about S.O Video who was the programs publisher?

That was my father’s company that he had that produced video tapes and eventually sold my Test Writer and Tester software applications. My father has a great innovator himself, but proceeded on the safer path as he had his PhD in Physiology and taught at the college and had his side business – where I just went all in and went for it as an entrepreneur.

What assembler did you use to create Nicks Swift Copy and timeline to create or update the program?

I believe I used the Merlin Assembler at that time, and maybe one other one before that – it was all 100% assembly at that point I believe. I was the only coder, I had no employees. Would get up 5am to code before school, and immediately back at it when I got home, often faking sick days to code. lol

I don’t recall the timeline, it was a few months I believe – I was a coding nut back then lol

Is there anything else you would like to add.

It’s pretty neat to still see interest in these projects and I know people love to hear the “war stories” about coding in 100% assembly back in the day etc.

Thanks for taking the time with me about Nicks Swift Copy. 

Craig Ernster