The history of the computer industry is filled with fascinating tales of sudden riches and lost opportunities. Take that of Ronald Wayne, who cofounded Apple Computer with Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs but sold his shares for just US $2,300. And John Atanasoff, who proudly showed his digital computer design to John Mauchly who later codesigned the Eniac, typically recognized as the first electronic computer, without credit to Atanasoff. Perhaps the most famous story of missed fame and fortune is that of Gary Kildall. A pioneer in computer operating systems, Kildall started the company Digital Research and wrote Control Program for Microcomputers (CP/M), the operating system used on many of the early hobbyist personal computers, such as the MITS Altair 8800, the IMSAI 8080, and the Osborne 1, before IBM introduced its own PC. Kildall could have been the king of personal computer software, but instead that title went to his small-time rival Bill Gates. For years, rumors have circulated that the code for the original DOS operating system sold by Microsoft is actually copied from the CP/M operating system developed by Digital Research.
A couple years ago we took it upon ourselves to search out the original code and use CodeSuite to determine the truth once and for all. Our research was summarized in a popular (and not-so-popular) article in IEEE Spectrum entitled Did Bill Gates Steal the Heart of DOS? If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s a fun read but it only summarizes our exhaustive results using our tools and procedures for finding copied code. The article generated a lot of controversy and we always intended to publish the full technical details of our analysis, but it’s surprising how many people don’t like our conclusion and wouldn’t publish my paper. But now the full academic paper entitled A Code Correlation Comparison of the DOS and CP/M Operating Systems is available online in the Journal of Software Engineering and Applications. If you want to know the details, and you want to know the truth, it’s in the article and the details are in the paper.
I hope you’re all aware of my book The Software IP Detective’s Handbook: Measurement, Comparison, and Infringement Detection. It’s the first book on Software Forensics, a field that I pioneered at Software Analysis and Forensic Engineering and Zeidman Consulting. Whereas Digital Forensics deals with bits and files, without any detailed knowledge of the meaning of the data, Software Forensics deals with analysis of software using detailed knowledge of its syntax and functionality to perform analysis to find stolen code and stolen trade secrets. The algorithms described in the book have been used in many court cases. The book also describes algorithms for measuring software evolution, particularly as it relates to IP changes.
If you are a teacher, this is a great time to incorporate the materials in the book into your courses on software development, intellectual property law, business management, and computer science. There’s something for everyone in the various chapters of the book. Your students and you will be at the forefront of an important and very new field of study.
If you’re interested, please contact me.
S.A.F.E. recently released version 4.4 of CodeSuite and version 1.1 of CodeSuite-LT. The most important new feature of this version is that these programs now recognizes many different text encoding formats including ASCII, UTF-8, UTF-16, and UTF-32. Characters in alphabets other than the Latin alphabet used for English are now supported. For example, code with comments or strings in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, or Russian can be compared correctly.
The most significant change is to BitMatch. When examining binary object code to find text strings, you can now specify the encoding format of the file. If you’re not sure about the encoding, you can choose multiple formats.
As demand for our products increase outside the United States, we realized a need to support languages in those countries also.
My book on software intellectual property, a labor of love (and hate) for the last two years, has just been published by Prentice-Hall. The book is intended for several different audiences including computer scientists, computer programmers, business managers, lawyers, engineering consultants, expert witnesses, and high-tech entrepreneurs. Some chapters give easy-to-understand explanations of intellectual property concepts including copyrights, patents, and trade secrets. Other chapters are highly mathematical treatments describing quantitative ways of comparing and measuring software and software IP. The first chapter of the book outlines which chapters are most important for the different audiences.
Overall the book covers the following topics:
- Key concepts of software intellectual property
- Comparing and correlating source code for signs of theft or infringement
- Uncovering signs of copying in object code when source code is inaccessible
- Tracking malware and third-party code in applications
- Using software clean rooms to avoid IP infringement
- Understanding IP issues associated with patents, open source, and DMCA
You can purchase your copy from Amazon.com here.
S.A.F.E. has recently announced the release of DocMatch, a new tool for comparing all kinds of documents to find plagiarism. Our unique, patented technology has proved very useful for finding copied computer code in court. We decided to apply our technology to general documents like articles, papers, and novels. There have been a few cases where we built custom applications to compare written engineering specifications. The results were very useful. In one case, finding copied but modified software specifications gave clues that showed how one company copied another’s software.
DocMatch can be licensed as the full version or the LT version. The full version is the professional tool. It creates a database containing matching elements between two sets of documents. The full version can automatically search the Internet for all references to commonly used words and filter them from the database. Also, sophisticated statistics can be extracted from the database. The full version costs $150 for a one-year license. The LT version produces an easy-to-read HTML report showing words, sentences, and paragraphs that are identical or similar in every pair of documents. The LT version costs $30 for a one-year license. Register to download your copy here.