A famous disk copy and backup utility programmed by Hercule and published by Esat Software (France).
Until beginning of 1988, Hercule II could copy any Amstrad floppy, whatever was its protection. Then its programmor stopped Amstrad programming.
Hercule in its first versions was in fact a bundle of the following software, sold 250 French Francs (38€):
- Copylock: the disc analyzer and copier itself (definitely the key software of the bundle)
- Sector: disc analyzer on printer
- Mercure: files transfer utility
- Display: header reader
Hercule II was a bigger bundle, sold 395 French Francs (60 €), containing the following:
- The Hercule bundle described above with Copylock, Sector, Mercure, Display
- Phoenix/Ulysse: a utility capable to format floppies with 230 ko (standard floppy containing 178 ko) and re-routing commands like RUN, LOAD, MERGE, etc in order to be capable to run programs without any transformation. To cope with high prices on 3" floppies (~10€)
- Floppy: a universal tool to read/write/format sectors and tracks covering all the powerfull Floppy Disk Controller (FDC) capabilities
- CopyFich: files transfer utility
Some key tricks implemented by Hercule II:
- To simulate a sector giving different content each time it was read (impossible to do with the Amstrad floppy controller): Hercule II created two sectors with the same ID but with different contents, at such positions on the track so the reader will read each one, then reduced the size of GAP3 between the sectors so this one additional sector can be added on the track
- To be able to put bytes in the area in-between the first two sectors (impossible to do with the Amstrad floppy controller): Hercule II formatted the track with many very small sectors of size N=0 (#80 bytes). In order to be able to write bytes at position around #250 the first sector was given a size of 3, and followed by the typical 9 sectors of size 2. The problem was that all these sectors could not fit into the track size, so the first sector of size 3 was in fact given quite fewer space. When this sector was written, in order not to go until the end of size 3 because it would have deleted the following sector, Hercule II simply...stopped the motor of the floppy controller at a precise millisecond timing...
- Version 1.3 in November 1986
- Version 1.4 in December 1986
- Version 1.6 in February 1987
- Version 2.0 and 2.01 in March 1987
- Version 3.0 in April 1987
- Version 4.1 in May 1987
- Version 4.3 in summer 1987