Cracker's Map: United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, home of legendary groups such as Ikari, TCS, DCS, CCS, Talent, SCG and Fusion... the UK also was host to the biggest software houses and development teams in the C64 world, so it is only natural that a huge scene thrived here for quite sometime. Disclaimer: notice missing detail? something wrong or want to leave some feedback? Send me a mail.

We are #1 - so why try harder!

One of the oldest cracking groups in the United Kingdom. It was formed in early 1984 and some of the original members were Mr. Spock, Buck Fuzby (main cracker and author of "FLOAD", one of the first fastload programs) and The Breaker. The name of the group was thought up by a member called Dangermouse who had a CB Radio and his handle was Doughnut, hence DCS was born... Another interesting fact is that their hometown of Basingstoke contains around 34 roundabouts and the town is nicknamed Doughnut City.

They officially stopped on C64 in 1990 after 200+ releases (including demos and the paper mag Iguana).
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The group of 1988!
Nobodies Are Taking Over was based in Sunderland and was formed in January 1988. Founding members were Image (who renamed to Munch then to  Miracle), Megasnail and some guys from Group 8 International. Megasnail was the main cracker whilst Miracle handled modem trading and imports to the USA (infact the group Exodus was formed originally to provide NATO with a North American presence). They had a demo section that was quite famous in its own right (BUDS - Brain Using Demo Section) and released some paper magazines such as NAILS and SMASHER. A lot of their crack trainer menu would have AYE and NAY (e.g. Infinite Lives A/Y?) rather than YES or NO, this was due to Megasnail's Northumberland heritage. The last releases from them were in 1991.
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For The Best - Trade With The Best
Founded by Nik, Pal and Ultima in July 1987, Ikari is one of the most famous groups in the scene with over 800 cracks by some of the best crackers during their era. Most of their Danish members joined in from the group Jewels. Guys like JCH, Excell, Doc, Fletch and Gandalf. Ikari were voted as the world's best cracking group in the final issue of Jeff Smart's Illegal  magazine (number 38 - judgement day). At one stage they asked Derbyshire Ram to join as swapper, he declined later to join Dominators as a cracker. The group went into cooperation with TALENT and formed what some regard as the best co-op ever on C64 (1989-1991). Originally the cooperation started as a 1-game deal with the  release of Iron Lord, but they decided to keep it going due to the strong friendship. As with most cracking groups, they had a lamer label called Wicked which was continued also by Talent alone.
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Talented rulers!
Born on the 21st of July, 1989... when two members of Hotline decided to go it alone, the reason was caused over a big argument with Sledgehammer over who Hotline should trade with in the US (Sledge wanted Bod+XXX to trade with Asterix/Rage For Order but they refused and wanted to stay with The Mind Slayer/International Network of Chaos), the two members starting talent were Bod and XXX. The group's debut release was Xybots. Talent is best known for its cooperation with Ikari (which started at the ECTS show in 1989), but they were also in an importing cooperation with INC. After Ikari departed, the group continued by itself using TSM for its imports to the states. The group maintained activities for sometime, but were dealt a heavy blow when founder and main original supplier XXX left to team up with other ex-Talent members in the thriving sensation Legend.

Bod was instrumental for the group and was the main member steering them through the years even up until they stopped sometime in 1995, even despite rumours of phone-sex with the sysop of the Talent/TSM BBS 'The Shaolin Temple' (Aycee) which was exaggerated further with nude photos in the 'Pirates' paper magazine. After Talent, Bod later when on to become one of the earliest members of the High Voltage SID Collection Crew.
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They make em, we break em!
Coming out of the Teesside (close to Manchester) TCS entered the cracking world of C64 in 1984, making it one of the oldest groups from the UK. Original members were Steve and Dave, but their most famous member was the main cracker The Omega Man, who was quite legendary in the eighties doing some wonderful versions (check his version of Delta released way back in '87).

Other famous members are the legendary demo duo Ian and Mic who released their work on Compunet, long before the internet became commercialised. TCS were also part of the famous THE LIGHT CIRCLE, an umbrella group which also included Radwar and the original Red Sector Incorporated. They finished on the C64 in 1987, with members leaving for DCS.
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RTI was founded by Flexy and Firefox early in 1988. The group is based in Luton. They've had some known guys like Anthrax, Deep Purple, Narc, Raistlin, Richie and Zoolook in their ranks. Over 100 cracks were released by RTI, their last being in 1991.
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Whilst not so famous with only 30 odd cracks, Paninaro are worth a mention. Formed by Tri-Dos in 1989, the name was chosen after a Pet Shop Boys' song. Their very first ever release was Post Man Pat and in the scroller they announced their original line-up which was Bam Bam, Falco, Magnetic, Paco, The Yattering and Tri-Dos. The group was known for Tri-Dos using a fake member "The Yattering" who was in fact just himself. The group was only alive for around six months, other known members were  Falco Paul and Bam Bam.
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The best things come to those who wait
SCG were founded in July 1986 mainly as a demo group but then  it changed to a cracking crew also. Some guys from Liverpool started the group, like the very famous cracker Weetibix. The slang spoken in Liverpool is called "scouse", hence the group name. The scousers released some high quality cracks, especially for their time. Weetibix was one of the first Europeans to be using a NTSC C64, which enabled the group to trade quite easily with the likes of Eagle Soft Inc., (particularly Mitch and Butcher). Together with Ikari, they are one of the most legendary groups to come out of the United Kingdom.
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One of the earliest groups in the scene, born early 1983 when Micky and Stu started to learn the 6502. The founding members came from the county of Cleveland, on the east coast, hence the group name. They had a brief war with another big group called TCS (Teesside Cracking Service), as both groups were cracking the same games and one would accuse the other of a crappy version (amongst other things). Trading with Hotline (exporting their wares to the USA), they managed to release some good cracks before internal disputes surrounding the war with TCS caused the group to fold, leading to the creation of a new group called Fusion...

Regarding the war with TCS - Ian says "The war did not last long. TCS and C.C.S were both cracking the same games so it became a matter of who had the best support network for spreading the cracks and I am (not) sorry to say that we left TCS well behind in that matter. We cracked them first, made them smaller, and got them all over the world before TCS were even out of bed on a morning."
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Man and Machine
Founded by Ian and Mick in October 1987, these guys chose their group name from a horse race, the horse that came last was called Fusion. The core productive members of CCS were now in Fusion and to further enhance things, they were now connected to the American boards through an exlusive partnership with RAD (Rowdy American Distributors). The group certainly attracted the attention of existing elite groups, Strider of Fairlight asked if Fusion would merge with Fairlight but Ian politely declined. They received competitive attention from Ikari and a slagging match between Nik and Ian took place. They did make the number one position and dominated, even against the likes of Ikari and go down in the history books as one of the legends. Fusion: man and machine...
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Not to be confused with the Norwegian group, Laser was the brainchild of Steve, who founded the crew in 1984. In the beginning there was Steve and Tim. Their earliest work was converting Novaload games into quickload. One of their first "proper" cracks was Chimera by Firebird. The group died in 1988 but was reborn in 1993 as the first "oldie"-cracking crew on the C64. The rebirth produced quite a few quality releases and inspired other new groups to try making gold versions. When Steve departed the scene, Shuze took over leadership briefly until the 1st of May 1995 when the group was officially declared as dead.
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Poetry in Motion
Created in June 1988 by Steve, Ironfist, Hendy and Xen-Ven. The name of the group was chosen because of its meaning, for the first few days of the group they chose Xenith for some reason before renaming it to Zenith. One of the leaders, Steve, went to the USA in 1989 to meet some guys from FBR (who did their imports) including Oahawhool, Ninja and Candyman. He got "involved" with Candyman's wife and returned back to England. Zenith produced over 120 cracks with import partnerships with FBR and PE. Also the paper Iguana was released by them together with seberal demos. The group dissolved in November 1989 (ignoring the fake rebuild in 1992 by Death).
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There can be only one!
Originally the group started off under the name Metaloid, founded by Mik, he later renamed it together with Dolly to Pulsar. Both guys were from Manchester. Just before Mik left the group he asked some guys to join up such as The Suppliers (Norway), Wido (Holland) and Thanatos (Denmark). When Mik left, the leadership was taken over by The Megabrain and Bimz, however he failed to tell any of the group sections existence of the other sections. Pulsar was
originally formed in the UK but had sections in Austria, Denmark, Australia and Germany. Over 200 cracks and demos for all sections combined, the last active section was lead by Cruze in Australia in late 1992.
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DL were one of the late comers to the British cracking scene; being founded in December 1991 by NME (later Jade). The group had a few cooperations, most famously with Project X who were based in France. Later they were approached by Arcade to go into cooperation which they accepted because they needed access to an NTSC fixer. The cooperation produced some releases but later disintergrated due to broken promises from Arcade and some internal factors. Despite the short life of the group (ending early in 1992 when  members left to join the rebuilt Illusion), they managed to pump out over 100 cracks.

Some trivia: their BBS "Going For Gold" (sysop The Chief) has been continued today; as an FTP using the same name and now managed by the German demo group Padua.

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There is other groups and individuals that should be mentioned too, they include:

* Billy Buckhead Cracking Crew
* Excess (the original crew est.1988)
* The All-Stars (founded by Flexy)
* The Yak Society
* West Midlands Cracking Service

Also I should mention that Derbyshire Ram did a lot of solo cracks before joining Dominators and inbetween membership of certain groups. One of the things that made the British cracking scene so special is that it started just as early as the American scene but it continued far longer (thanks to the budget market that continued into the early nineties). Thanks for the memories!