Warp Speed is a C64/C128 fastload (and tool) cartridge by Alien Technology Group who also made the (famous) V-MAX! protection/fastload system. They can be seen credited in titles as Defender of the Crown (among many others) and even made a game, Take Down Wrestling, and had close ties to Taito and Cinemaware(who also published the WarpSpeed cart).

ATG was started by Harald and Marty who hired in Joe occasionally to do some work for them.

All three of them did utilities for copying protected(!) software before starting up ATG. Marty and Joe worked for Prism Software and Harald did a fastloader and protection for a company named Basix.

I assume they realized there was a lack(or a need) of a good protection scheme thus starting up ATG and creating V-MAX!. There are many versions(or revisions) of V-MAX! and it can be seen evolving during the time on later games. Once a protection is out, the next game, or release needs to be altered so it wouldn’t be fully recognizable from the previous one.

Warp Speed has a DOS wedge with fast I/O routines for 1541/71/81 and a menu system for various tools such as sector editor, file/disk copier and a machine code monitor. The disk copier they included was deliberately chosen not to support copying protected software.
There are two versions of the Warp Speed ROM available, V1.0 and V2.0, and the manual mentions they crammed in 32K of code into 16K area by optimizing code over and over again.

Warp Speed ROM
The cartridge ROM is 16K with the following layout:
9E00-9FFF -> ROM at DE00-DFFF ; Load vectors and cartridge control

The cartridge is compatible with C64 and C128, there is a switch you need to flip to select mode. The C64 uses the BASIC cold start vectors at $A000 and for the C128 they check for the “CBM” ID-string at $8007-. The address and datalines are scrambled on the ROM, knowing their work with V-MAX! I’d guess they did that to protect the code with a benefit of simpler PCB layout.



Sukkopera has done a remake of the Warp Speed PCB. He did a version where the address and data lines have been unscrambled, using the sources below you can make your own customized Warp Speed cart ;).


Source Code
In 1999 the (partial) source code of V-MAX!, Take Down Wrestling and Warp Speed was released public by Marty (and Harald). The sources are in Merlin assembler format but I converted it to 64tass. You can download the sources and build an identical binary file as the (unscrambled) Warp Speed V2.0 ROM. The source code is very well documented and worth taking a look at.

All other downloads (manuals, original ROMs etc.) can be found at the OpenC64WarpSpeed page.


Marty Franz, Joe Peters and Harald Seeley for Warp Speed.
Sukkopera for the OpenC64WarpSpeed and giving me a notify of his project.
Terje(Abbyss) for sending me some Warp Speed PCBs!

Be sure to check out the blog post (and video!) by obliterator918 where he goes through the functions of the Warp Speed.