The first time I ever heard of a dongle was when it was used on a text processor called Wordcraft on the Commodore 8032. It was around 1980. We had three machines and had to share the dongle amongst us, which I thought was a pain so I had a look at the code.
There was a scrambled bit of code which got unscrambled whenever the system checked for the dongle. So all I did was unscramble it, set the return value to true, jump to the end of the routine and allow it to rescramble. Then I found out what checksum it came up with and patched that in. The printer module also had to be patched because it checked the checksum. It only took 5 days to work that out the first time round. The second time round, it took 2 hours.
About 2 months later, I saw an article in PC World that raving about how brilliant they were and how it would be an end to piracy. There was a similar article in a US publication. I wasn't exactly a top notch computer science graduate but it only took me five days part time. Did these reporters/computer experts even try bypassing the dongle or did they just copy each other?
The moral is, if you want to implement a secure system with a dongle, get a crap programmer to implement it because they won't just have one routine to do the security - they will have several, all written differently so a cracker like myself can't just go in and clobber one routine to bypass the dongle.
Anyway - that was two side stories. Wiki talks about the ones on the IBM PC but I remember using them in 1980, way before the IBM PC was even invented.
- Did wordcraft use them on the earlier versions or was it only on Version F onwards.
- Did dongles exist before then, say on the Apple ][ or TRS-80 or even CP/M machines?
- Did Wordcraft invent the word dongle?
I can't find any history on any of the above