ANATOMY OF A PIRATE
His eyes are bloodshot; he doesn't sleep. His wife and children
used to know him; they no longer do. At one time, he was a fairly
nice, easy-going guy. He liked to tinker, so he bought a
computer. His life will never be the same.
At night, he lurks in the shadows, seeking bad sectors, tearing
them apart bit by bit, knowing that, soon, he will have broken the
code and will have the world's first illegal copy of that
diskette. He will keep his old car three more years, won't get
his plumbing fixed, and will only survive on coffee and TV
dinners, so that he may afford a third or fourth disk drive or the
memory expansion he needs.
Decryption and un-protection are his only goals. He does not care
what the disk contains or how useful the program may be; breaking
the code is far more challenging to him that completing ZORK III.
He broke the ZORK series, but never played them. His purpose in
life has become all-encompassing. He will get sick from lack of
rest; he will have marathon sessions trying to undo the last
protection check in the program, and, when he finally has reached
his goal, he will experience post-partum depression.
He is not after money, he is not after fame. He just wants to
prove to himself that he is more intelligent that the one who
devised the protection scheme in the first place. He will relate
his exploits to a very close circle of friends at the club, and,
because they listened, he will give them copies.
His energy and imagination, if harnessed, could be used to create
another LOTUS or WordStar. His mind, unfortunately, is
single-tracked and lacks the visionary and creative qualities
required. He is not unlike a counterfeiter; an electronic
safe-craker who has amassed a wealth of technical knowledge and
has invested thousands in tools, only to satisfy that one
He knows he will never get caught. He knows that, in reality, the
ever-increasing complaints of software manufacturers, and
programmers whose wealth and luxury are threatened by his actions,
are but a reflection on their inability to effectively protect
their treasures. He knows that if one man can do it, another man
can undo it. He knows that computers have rules that must be
obeyed, and that all bootable disks must start the same way. That
is enough of a crack for him to get through.
He hates unprotected disks; they offer no challenge. He will save
enough to buy a new piece of software whose code hasn't been
cracked, and sell it to the highest bidder at the first club
meeting which follows his success.
In his public life, he is likely to be non-descript; an underdog
who doesn't shine much at anyhting he does or says. He probably
doesn't dress well, his physical appearance is of no importance to
him. He doesn't have the charisma and moral fiber of a Long John
Silver. His opinions aren't sought, his advice isn't followed.
He isn't respected much, except by the freeloaders who depend on
him. After all, he is giving something for nothing.
His darkest secret, however, is that he lives in constant fear
that, some day, he will fail. He will not crack the code. He
will realize that other club members were fair-weather friends and
that he lost, in a single stroke of fate, the attention he was so
Like the rest of us, he will grow old, his priorities will change,
his eagerness will die down. As he looks around him, he may
realize that the best times of life have passed him by, and that
there is no making up for the lost time. He will be bitter,
having left an insignificant mark on the world, having wasted his
time in pointless pursuits. No one will miss him.
To him, I dedicate this epitaph:
Here Lies a Pirate
Who Never Sailed.