Interviews



Interview with Matt

Published in Vandalism News #32
Performed by Jazzcat



J)
Welcome to the Vandalism News magazine! Please introduce yourself to the readers.

M)
In a previous life, I was known as Matt/TDF, Matt/TDF+Reflex or Matt/Tera; on the Australian c64 scene in the late 1980s.


J)
Could you tell us a bit about your C-64 history. When did you start in the scene? What groups have you been in? What are the main events and highlights of your scene career?

M)
I started in 1983, self-taught programming and graphics design, producing intros, tools and demos in a group called Tour de Future (TDF) with school friends. We grew and added members from around Sydney, then began a co-op with a Victorian group called Reflex, before merging our names to become Tera. Tera eventually had an international reputation, affiliated boards in the states, a range of demos, intros and contacts. Our high point was probably early/mid 1989. I tended to be the most productive coder/graphics producer/etc, and did some trading, but others (e.g. Mystic) were stronger traders. I just liked making things and was too heads down in the code! My personal highlight was creating the world’s shortest RLE decoder, using undocumented opcodes and self-modifying code. Of course, the record was later beaten, but the whole package of Beeftrucker was great. And, I didn't realise it at the time, but the other guys in my group were very important, nothing could have happened without them.



J)
What made you leave the scene in the end?

M)
Lack of interest. I bought a c1650 modem and started calling bulletin boards, falling in love with phrack, cDc, underground bulletin boards, and a new world. At the same time, university started, and a primordial internet was there to be had. Programming moved to C, Unix and Linux (I ran a UUCP node on Linux 0.97 in 1991/1992).


J)
When the Australian scene still existed it was hard to be recognized in the European scene. However, a lot of European sceners know of you, especially for the tools you made... what do you think made yourself be known to the scene? was it a particular demo or tool, presence on the boards?

M)
That's cool to hear! Tools are the best thing to make, because they allow people to make even more stuff. All coders should make tools, it's liberating. I think we had a good range of contacts in Europe, and we had a few visible tools (our Notemaker and Compressor). The traders in our group (esp. Mystic) did an excellent job of getting us known and connected. I wonder if just being Australian singled us out as 'interesting' as well.



J)
Tera were one of the most famous groups in the Australian scene. What was the time like in those glory days?

M)
Busy! I think at the time it didn't seem like we were famous or in glory, we were just coding, trading and doing the things we liked to do; and that's perhaps the important thing.


J)
What are your all-time favourites: (C64 only)

M)
Unfortunately I'm going to let you down, as I've forgotten a lot of detail, since many things have happened since, but I'll try to answer as best as I can.

Demo Group: Horizon, because for a while they were coming out with innovative coding tricks.
Demo: I forget who it was by, but it used the 1541 processor to do parallel processing with the 6510, I remember hacking into the code to figure it out, it was cool!
Programmer: Mr Z and some of the triad guys for their hacking skills, but no particular one stands out.
Musician: sorry!
Graphician: sorry!
Game: Galaga (yes! simple but beautiful, ... I didn't play many games, maniac mansion I really enjoyed as well, with the memorable EagleSoft Loader!)

Can I add 'intro' ? I enjoyed the simplicity of Triad and 711 intros; and Triad inspired some of my own designs.



J)
What's your view on the internet and how it has effected the way computer scenes and people communicate and produce?

M)
The Internet is a phenomenal technology that has brought intellectual groups from across the world together in virtual communities: some amazing things are to come. However, there's nothing like sitting in a cafe with a bunch of friends and having a good time. With the birth of the internet, we've just reached another point in the continuum of society. The information revolution can be seen as a continued outgrowth of post-renaissance western development, but in the 20th century it has flowered, and the internet has finally provided a uniform and global knowledge medium and the next bump in global history (consider the early, mid, late bronze ages, well now, the internet is a marker for the mid (or late perhaps?) information age). The coming years will be interesting. Readers should listen to some of recent comments by Bill Joy. Hey, and don't 'script kiddies' remind you of people using intro/demo-makers! The more things change, the more they stay the same ...


J)
In your opinion, what is the most important element of a demo?

M)
I tend to admire different demos for different purposes. A good overall composition of graphics, sound, text and everything is important. But then, some demos don't have this, but do amazing technical things (e.g. the first open top/bottom border scroll) and have to be admired for that. Some demos use no advanced techniques, but have a great layout/composition/music/interesting scroll text, etc.



J)
Was a C64 a stepping stone for you in life or computer related activities?

M)
In a way, I took to studying Computer Systems Engineering, because of enjoying C64 programming. I've made an impact in other areas since then, some times good, some times bad.


J)
Do you still own a C64 and all of your old disks?

M)
No, but sometimes I wish I did for memories sake. I have used a C64 emulator on a PC to reminisce about old games! They are still great and highly playable.


J)
Are you in contact with Hex, Xlr8 or any of the other guys from Tera or old Australian scene?

M)
I didn't have strong contact for some time, I tend to be too involved in my own work to the detriment of contact with people around me. Recently I've been keeping in email contact with XLR8, and when I visit home, will catch up with the guys.


J)
Ever had any wars or disliking towards some group or person in the scene?

M)
Colwyn of ACU, for various reasons that I cannot remember now.


J)
Who do you think is the biggest lamer to walk the face of the C64 scene?

M)
Can't remember to be honest; but mostly people with bad attitudes. Even if you're a great coder, if you have a bad attitude, that's pretty lame. And if you're not a good coder, but you're trying hard, and making improvements, you're not lame. But if you're producing sloppy work, low quality, etc when you could do better, then that's lame. It's about attitude.


J)
Did you ever call the boards or were you ever involved in HP activities?

M)
Yes.



J)
What are your current activities these days? and what is your reaction when I say the C64 scene is still alive?

M)
I have had a bumpy ride through internet activities, professional software engineering, and other things, and recently just completed studies in Art History and presently work for a technology consultancy in Cambridge UK. My technical areas of interest are now software engineering, cryptography, communications, computing, digital society, technical futures and a lot of related stuff; I'm an IEEE member, and have a reputation as a tech-head. I am surprised that the scene is still going, and amazed at what people are doing in recent demos! For me, it was some time ago. If you are in the United Kingdom, you need to visit the cryptologic museum at Bletchley Park, and the display of computing technology, there are C64s, Vic-20s and enough things to bring back the memories.


J)
Please feel free to send any greetings to anyone you know...

M)
One name stands out: Jerry of Triad, for the interesting pen-pal letters. I'd like to send greetings to the guys in my group; sometimes I was so busy with my work that I forgot how important they were!


J)
Thanks for your time Matt, do you have any last comments to leave a final impression on the audience?

M)
Do what you love to reach for your dreams and don't forget that family and friends are everything. Life is an interesting experience, best to remain philosophical, enjoy life, have fun, and aim for quality.

Matthew. aka Matt/Tera.


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