The article documents in detail many of the most well-known C64 US and Canada based NTSC "fixers", importers and crackers of the times. I found it to be a fascinating look into a world I certainly benefited from in the late 80s but personally knew very little about other than flashy intros in front of some of the games I would acquire from friends.
Intro from The History of NTSC Fixing
By The Shadow
Read MoreIt was the dawn of the Commodore 64 scene, during the early 1980s. There were groups competing to be the best. Game cracking and distribution was becoming increasingly more popular due to the fact that people either could not afford to pay for new games or simply did not wish to. In the United States, the most powerful cracking groups had a monopoly on cracks due to the fact that they had early supplies for originals and also had the ability to crack with mastery. After receiving the original, there was pressure from the scene to release and distribute the finished ware as quickly as possible. There was very little possibility for new cracking groups to form and compete in America. Being the first to release a game was the priority for American cracking groups.
The cracking scene in Europe flourished at the time. Since Europe consists of many different countries, there was a great abundance of new games being produced from a variety of different countries. Many cracking groups had a chance to release their share of wares. In Europe, the emphasis was to spend more time creating a higher quality crack.
When overseas phreaking became possible for Americans, a new concept was soon created and wares importing became an alternative choice to cracking. No longer did someone need to have fast originals and cracking skills to have a respected group. Importing still was no easy task and required a special set of skills. An Importer needed to be able to call overseas, locate the proper people to contact overseas and have the negotiating and diplomatic abilities to convince the proper people to give the importer their cracks. Many importing groups formed in America.
PAL televisions and monitors are created with longer screens, which contain 49 more raster lines than NTSC televisions and monitors do. Most PAL games running on NTSC Commodores will visibly flash and flicker, making the game nearly impossible to see. Some games crash, making them completely unplayable.
After a few years, the standards raised and simply importing was not satisfactory. People became annoyed at trying to play games that flashed and flickered. A new idea was conceived to probe the coding of the malfunctioning games and seek a way to reprogram them so that they may function properly. A few pioneer programmers experimented with this new form of programming. The idea of NTSC fixing was born.