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LOAD "8-BIT SECRET AGENT TOOLKIT REVIEW"

Classification: Utility
Publisher: UpTime / Loadstar (Softdisk, Inc)
Programmer: Multiple
Year: 1986 - 1988
Disk: Top Secret.d64

Although the programs in this review use encryption technology, I'm presenting them purely as interesting discussion points. I do not guarantee their level of security or performance. Use at your own risk.

Here are three really interesting (and sort of cool) programs that any 8-bit secret agent should not be without, to help keep his/her Commodore 64 programs safe from prying eyes. Enjoy!

Top Secret Class: File Utility
Programmed By: John Augustine Published By: UpTime Magazine (Vol. 2-#1, 1988)

Top Secret was created by John Augustine. Basically, it’s a simple text editor that allows you to type a document on your C64 and then, using a six letter key code, save it to an encrypted SEQ file on the floppy disk.

To read the encrypted message in the SEQ file, you need to run Top Secret and enter in the correct six letter key code. If done correctly, the file is decoded and you can then read it without a problem. But, if you don't enter the correct key code, or if you try to read the SEQ file outside of Top Secret, you just see a garbled mess of text and characters.

When you first start the program you are asked to enter a six character key code. This code will be used to encode your SEQ file, as well as decode any encrypted SEQ file you retrieve from disk. You have the option of changing this code at any time, by selecting N from the Main Menu.

Creating your SEQ is very easy, you just start typing. You can insert lines and delete lines, with F3 and F4, as well as page through longer messages with F5 and F7. F1 toggles between the editor and Main Menu.

From the Main Menu, you can also import text from other SEQ files into the current document. Because the program is relatively small, you have room for up to 1,100 lines of text. You can also print the SEQ to the printer and save the SEQ to disk - either encoded or as plain text.


Program Sentry Class: BASIC Utility
Programmed By: Bennett Cookson, Jr. & Alan Poole Published By: Loadstar Publishing & Commodore Magazine (Issue #34, 1986)

Want to keep prying eyes away from your latest BASIC programming masterpiece? Program Sentry will ensure that no unauthorized person can read, or even run, your program without providing the proper password first.

To use it, you first LOAD and RUN the program. Then, LOAD the BASIC program you want to password protect. You’ll then be asked for the password to unlock the program, but if it’s never been locked before, just press RETURN.

Once your program is in BASIC memory, SAVE it to disk. Program Sentry will then ask you for a six character password to “lock” the file. You can make the password longer than six characters, but only the first six are recorded.

It’s important that you jot down the password somewhere, because once your program is locked, there’s no recovery without running Program Sentry and providing the password. I’ll also say that if you decide to try using Program Sentry on your programs, make backups of them first, before password protecting them up. Those backups can then be stored away in a safe location, while you use the “locked” versions for your everyday work.


1541 Disk Stamper Class: Disk Utility
Programmed By: R. Harold Droid Published By: Loadstar Publishing & Commodore Magazine (Issue #38, 1987)

Here’s a program for anyone who’s had the desire of placing hidden messages on their floppy disks. 1541 Disk Stamper allows the user to add short, two line messages to a floppy disk’s BAM (aka Block Allocation Map). This message is supposed to be only readable by 1541 Disk Stamper, but you can also read it if you use any other BAM editor/reader program.

The difference with this than other BAM editor programs is that it’s really easy to use. Just LOAD and RUN the program. To read a hidden BAM message, just press R; to add/edit a BAM message, press E. You have 79 characters (two lines) to type your message. When you press RETURN, the message is written to disk.

Although the abilities of this utility program is limited, I can still see where it would come in useful. Back in the day, when you swapped and traded floppy disks with your friends, I can see how “branding” your disks would be a practical thing to do.

I suppose if you wanted to send a secret message to the members of your cracker group, then this would be an easy way to do that, as well. In any case, I thought it was kind of cool.


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reviews/secretagent.txt · Last modified: 2022/09/15 11:55 by David