“It’s still up in the air when this phenomenon began to happen (1981 is as good a guess as any), but Apple II pirates, not content to merely get commercial software copied and the protection removed, started giving themselves group names (“Midwest Pirates’ Guild”, “Black Bag”, “High Society”) and began to release these pirated programs as products in themselves.
Initially, the goal was to take a program and quickly knock it down to an easily downloadable file. When this was done, the accompanying documentation might tell you who took the time to unprotect/crack the original, or a name of the cracker might be in the beginning of the program. But then it started to spiral upwards.
Within a short time, these groups started using the “splash screens” of these programs to announce their favorite bulletin boards, to take credit for unprotecting the software, or in some cases to thumb their nose at either the software publisher or other pirates. If a group was feeling particularly energetic or ambitious, they might actually create a self-sufficient animated or fast-loading splash screen just for the pirates involved. As time went on, these screens became more and more elaborate, eventually taking on an almost crowded feel as they would shoehorn in the names of the group, the cracker who cracked the game, the friends who the pirates knew (also known as “greets”) and an advertisement for the board or boards the pirates hung out on.”
Conjured by o~ SeMeN SPeRmS ~o on April 24, 2011