Thursday, 12 April 2012

Anti-virus is 30 years old

They don't make anti-virus
like this anymore
Once upon a time, frighteningly not that long ago, Ross M Greenberg wrote the first anti-virus software for the PC.

It was called FluShot and it was written in 1982, thirty years ago this year.

FluShot was a DOS program that required 10K RAM. Little information is available about it on the web, and what still exists appears to be largely in text files originally distributed over BBS.

According to this file, FluShot Plus 1.83 cost $19 and was:
"a form of protection from viral and trojan horse programs. It is table driven and offers security protection as well. You can write and/or read protect entire classes of programs. Additionally, you can automatically check programs when you first invoke FSP to determine if they've changed since you last looked at them. It will advise you when any program "goes TSR"."
In another file, dated Jan. 23, 1989, a slightly earlier version of the program (1.4) was recommended:
"Protection (to a limited degree) from these virus strains is available in the programs CHKUP12.ARC (Checkup v1.2), and FSP_14.ARC (FluShot Plus v1.4), which are all available on the SCP Business BBS, 105/301 FidoNet, by REQUEST ONLY at 1-503-648-6687 (PC-Pursuitable)."
While searching for information on this program I stumbled across some reviews a colleague of mine wrote in 1988 for PC Magazine. Neil Rubenking wrote a full page on four products, including FluShot Plus 1.2, two separate programs both called Vaccine as well as another called Mace Vaccine.

The screenshot above, from this review, shows Neil in possession of some pretty massive hard disks. One was 20MB.

Testing and reviewing anti-virus has never been easy, but testers like Neil, myself and others certainly face a tougher challenge today than way back then.