The first educational software for the BBC micro was not copy protected and was on cassette tape. When floppy discs were introduced and educational software became more mainstream in schools, publishers and software houses began to introduce copy protection methods to prevent casual copying of their titles and to allow an inspection copy service.

Gratuitous copying of unprotected software was prevalent up to 1987 and possibly later. Indeed this was often done at a national level by Local Education Authorities and Teacher's Centres.

Whilst some protection was introduced for educational software on tape, protection really took off with the widespread use of floppy disks. Educational software on tape was common only in the early years of the BBC micro.

The first protection methods on disc were simple, hiding the files in the disc catalogue, for instance. File names were also used where the top bit of the characters was set making them immune to *COPYing. File names also included non-keyboard characters, which again could not be easily copied. Different formatting for a track or tracks was introduced, which would defeat *BACKUP. Often titles were protected by several different methods used at the same time.

Each Software House frequently introduced its own protection mechanisms. These protection methods also evolved over time, making protection a study in its own right. In some cases the protection method used was much better programmed and much more interesting that the actual title(s) protected!

The naming of these methods used is not official. It is used as a convenience by the Archive to identify different protection methods. Further details about the protection methods found whilst archiving can be seen by clicking the button below.

 

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