Remember the legendary Commodore AMIGA? From the mid-80s to the late 90s, this home computer was among the best-selling computers in the world. And it was on this computer that the first computer virus in the world was created. And its words were, “Something wonderful has happened. Your AMIGA is alive !!!”
This first virus on the AMIGA computer, however, was harmless. At that time nobody had ever seen a computer virus, and the only surprise of the SCA virus was a message that was displayed on the screen. The amazement is easy to understand, because at that time error messages were limited to a few words such as “error” or “processing…”. This means that while operating systems like Windows surprise us daily with new and sophisticated error messages we’ve never seen before, there were only a handful of error messages on the classic computers of the 80s.
Besides, there was no Internet, so the term information overload or infobesity was also completely unknown. In short: One knew all messages of the almost by heart, which mostly consisted of messages such as “can’t open”, “not enough memory” or “bad parameters”. No wonder, that when the computer suddenly claiming that it was alive, it was quite a surprise.
But who actually came up with this funny computer virus? Responsible for the first computer virus in the world was the cracking group SCA, after which the virus was finally named: the SCA virus. The abbreviation SCA stands for Swiss Cracking Association: An organized group of computer fans, who had set themselves the goal to remove the copy protection of computer software and distribute then in the population for free. It was done mostly in the school backyard, by swapping copies of floppy disks by hand. Such groups pursued the following hacker ethics through by cracking software: “Mistrust authority, all information must be free”.
With this virus, the cracking group just wanted to attract attention.
By the way, such groups as SCA still exist today and they are known as release groups. However, they are being persecuted by the FBI and Interpol today. The FBI classified these groups as “highly organized syndicates” in the mid 2000s. These release groups are responsible for each software or movie that is available illegally in the internet, today.
And even today, they do it for free and because they still pursue the ideology of freedom of information. And so that everyone knows who they owe the copy to, you can still find the signature of the cracker groups in these illegally distributed software pieces. However, the cracking group SCA was the first release group which had the idea to camouflaging its advertising in form of a virus.
The entire message on the AMIGA was:
“Something wonderful has happened” Your AMIGA is alive !!! and, even better … Some more of your disks are infected by a VIRUS !! Another masterpiece of The Mega-Mighty SCA !! “
Understanding the cracking scene in the 80s (from the book NO COPY):
The Cracking Scene in the 80s
by William Sen and Jan Krömer
In the mid-80s, the hacker subculture called the cracking scene was still completely unknown to outsiders. For example, the World Wide Web did not exist at that time, and file-sharing programs were not invented yet.
The crackers who removed the copy protection of software initially distributed their copies in their own subculture through different channels. The structures of distribution were already highly organized at that time. The scene’s complex distribution network was solely built to spread copies of software by the organized cracking scene. The distribution network was also used to broadcast news about scene activities efficiently and comprehensively. Within years the hacker subculture called cracking scene, today also known as “the scene”, was able to build an underground network of disguised communication and sharing.
However, the underground distribution network was also a tool try other options. Such as spreading viruses within the network such as the SCA virus.
Actually, SCA was the abbreviation of the Swiss Cracking Group “Swiss Cracking Association”, which published pirated software. Their virus, which was written by the SCA member CHRIS, was the first computer virus for the Commodore AMIGA computer, and first appeared in November 1987.
SCA was a unique and harmless virus: Even the computer was reset, it would remain in the memory and write itself to every other floppy disk once inserted. After every 15th reset of the computer, the following lines would appear on the screen:
Something wonderful has happened
Your AMIGA is alive !!! and, even better…
Some of your disks are infected by a VIRUS !!!
Another masterpiece of The Mega-Mighty SCA !!
SCA was the only time when a cracking group emerged as a virus programmer. Viruses from cracking groups were usually not welcome, as they reiterated the widespread rumor of the software manufacturers, copied software is virus-contaminated. Also, it’s against their believe called “hacker ethics” to spread harmful software. The scene’s intentions even today is to set software free so everybody can benefit from it.
Nevertheless, in the next few years countless viruses done by other black hat hackers not associated with the scene, a new industry—the antivirus industry—emerged, and were able to successfully compete in the market.
Image based on © Bill Bertram 2006, CC-BY-2.5 (URL: creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5).