IsoBuster, A Bed Time Story

Chapter I: IsoBuster, Just An Idea.

Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was CD-i. CD-i was a Philips format that could be played in special Philips consoles, called CD-i players. It was a funny format, the CD layout was often (and still is) not properly understood by normal CD-ROM drives and the file-system was (and still is) not supported by Windows.

At that same time there lived a funky dude, his name was Peter and his colleagues thought he was a bit crazy, they still do actually. Peter had a bunch of CD-i discs and although he realized they could never really be played on Windows PCs he wanted to see the content and find ways to extract that content, after all they contained mpg streams of his favorite Monty Python sketches and other stuff like that.

So Peter strapped on his cape, and set out to achieve the impossible. As caped crusader he was sighted first in a computer store where he bought a book: "learn how to program C++ in 21 days". He took 21 days off from work and started digging through the material. It was an interesting time and Peter learned a lot.

Chapter II: IsoBuster On The Shelve For A While.

Peter realised that he needed a pet project to be able to actually put into practice the stuff that he was learning. And since he didn't know enough about programming and the CD-i format yet, he created the freeware program "Easy CD Menu". "Easy CD Menu" was unique and probably first in its kind, the idea was to give people the ability to create a menu for all the files that they wanted to put on their self-created CDs. For a while Peter kept developing "Easy CD Menu", learning more about programming and in the mean time absorbing as much as possible about CD technology. "Easy CD Menu" became popular and Peter had to change the name to "Custom CD Menu" after an ugly mail from Adaptec. They claimed, probably with reason, that the name "Easy CD" was trademarked. The more Peter learned about programming the more he realised that his "Custom CD Menu" code was not ideal, to say it politely. He found himself digging through spaghetti every day and decided the time for "IsoBuster" had come.

Chapter III : IsoBuster, The Early Days.

Starting from scratch again, these were exciting times. First being able to open and close a drive tray, then getting the program to read sectors etc. was fascinating. Because the program needed a catchy name, and because the CD-i file-system resembles the ISO9660 file-system,... and because it was there to come to people's rescue... the caped "IsoBuster" came to be. IsoBuster could mount CDs in every-day normal CD-ROM drives built in every-day normal Windows 95 PCs and could show and extract the file content! And all this without making use of Windows but instead by by-passing the Windows file-system drivers and by doing all communication and interpretation by itself. Actually the program could do much much more, it could also mount normal (non CD-i) CDs and Video CDs and, again as first in its kind, it could open CD Image Files like *.ISO files. This last feature became very popular and IsoBuster gained a lot of popularity because of it. Through the years CD formats evolved, CD-R/W drives grew up, new optical disc formats were invented, other file systems like UDF matured etc. And Peter kept developing and making the program better and better. He had fun helping people out rescue data from CD-i, CDs and DVDs of various types and formats. Like any normal caped crusader Peter had a demanding day time job where he worked long days and travelled a lot, but when he had some spare time he strapped on the old cape and fought the evil demon "data-loss".

When Peter's day-time-job company decided to leave for Taiwan he had a difficult choice to make. He was one of the 'lucky' few that were asked to move together with the company as expatriate to Taipei. But as he didn't see himself moving abroad he declined. The company was quick to offer him a new job in another company's stronghold much closer to where he lived but the long drive every morning and evening was not something he pictured himself doing for long, so he declined again. He was on his own now.

Chapter IV : IsoBuster To The Rescue.

Today Peter is self employed and still works with lots of enthusiasm on IsoBuster. IsoBuster, once freeware, is now shareware BUT all the free features it once had are still entirely for free. Only certain newer features, like UDF and HFS require a registration. The price of the product is deliberately kept low, to be able to provide a solution to everybody who needs it. Software piracy is one of the biggest frustrations of Peter, as every copy stolen is felt directly in the pocket. To be able to pay the laundry costs for all his capes and masks he does custom projects for other companies. Mostly based on the technology he learned to master so well. This drains away valuable time from IsoBuster development but things aren't always as we want them to be.

Chapter V: IsoBuster, Industry Standard.

IsoBuster, and its author, are well respected within the optical media industry. Besides data recovery or the odd saving a screaming girl from a burning building, IsoBuster is used by various development teams in the hard and software industry. In the forensics world IsoBuster proves to be a valuable tool in the fight against criminals, Usama beware. Many experts regard IsoBuster as best in its kind and not without reason. Daily, people discover the power of IsoBuster and find new and interesting ways to use it. E.g. to slipstream installation CDs, to investigate CD or DVD layouts and so on. End users find that they can suddenly read CDs and DVDs created with drag & drop write software like Direct CD, InCD, DLA, Drag2Disc etc., data they thought was lost forever. People that were stuck with Mac CDs containing their precious Word documents for instance now are able to copy those to their Windows PC and edit them again.

For a full and lengthy list of the features visit:

Chapter VI : IsoBuster, The Future.

The future hasn't been written yet, which is good. Everything is still possible and who knows what interesting things will come our way. In the mean time the caped crusader remains at your service and the struggle against "data-loss" continues. Plenty of material for a sequel.