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The Commodore Amiga offered many firsts to computer users of the mid-1980s: 256 kilobytes of RAM, a 256-color display, and preemptive multitasking, not to mention a splashy celebrity debut (Andy Warhol used the Amiga to create a portrait of Debbie Harry). Not so happily, though, the Amiga also became one of the first machines to display a long error message resulting from a virus. First detected in November 1987, the SCA virus was a boot sector virus. Once burrowed into an Amiga’s system, it copied itself onto every inserted floppy disk.

Then, every 15th warm reboot (what some might call a “restart,” a warm reboot involves relaunching a computer without cutting off the power first), an infected Amiga displayed this curious message:

“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 !!”

SCA virus “cracks” floppy disks

The “mighty” SCA was none other than the Swiss Cracking Association, a group devoted to making software available for free. The SCA worked to remove copy protection from floppy disks to allow for the distribution of pirated software. Such activity was called “cracking,” and enthusiasts followed the mantra, “Mistrust authority, all information must be free.”

Unfortunately for Amiga users, the SCA virus made its way to the World of Commodore show in Toronto, where it spread quickly.

Photo: Sue Rae Edmondson / Shutterstock

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Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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