Interview with Sensei
Published in Vandalism News #36
Performed by Jazzcat
Conducted recently in email by Jazzcat, we present here the interview with a BBS sysop and wares runner for the famous group Crazy. Now a member of the PC cracking scene, Sensei first started in the scene way back in 1984... Enjoy!
Please introduce yourself to the readers. Such as who you were in the scene and what are your current activities.
Back in the C64 scene I went by the handle of The Sensei. I started in the scene around 1984 (WOW, 17 years ago!) and I was about 10 years old at the time. I played a major role in the scene as far as making imports of Euro warez to the US mainstream.
I was known as one of the best diplomats in the scene providing constant communications between the US cracking groups as well as the Euro cracking groups.
I ran one of the top 0 day warez BBSes in the US as well. Although I had a strong reputation for waring and had many great connections.
Today in 2001 I am involved in the PC pirating scene but not anywhere near the level of eliteness that I had when I was on C64. I find that amusing that I was more elite when I was 10 than when I am now 27! I am still a computer geek now. I have 9 of my own computers! I enjoy the awesome games of today like CounterStrike and many more that are always released on a daily basis.
I know you were a former member of Crazy, what were your jobs in the scene? perhaps you also painted gfx?
I didn't do graphics in the scene. I was mainly known for my importing, diplomacy, waring, and my BBS. I was a member of Crazy and was the US HQ for Crazy.
I spread all the Crazy released in the US. Martin of Crazy was cool as hell! I wonder if he is involved in the PC scene?
Could you tell us about your scene history? What groups have you been in and what were the main events and highlights of your scene career?
I started when I was 10 years old. I remember that I got my C64 for Christmas. I remember buying a 300 baud modem off a kid at school for $10. I then explored and made new contacts and before was said and done I discovered the C64 pirate scene. I slowly worked my way up to elite status. I went from 1200 and then 2400 baud. I gained a reputation for waring. I earned the respect of many and used my reputation to become a great diplomat in the scene.
I had started my own group known as CPA, Commodore Pirating Alliance. I had about 20 members with 20 BBSes. After CPA disbanded I met up with Billy The Kid from the legendary "The Alliance". I was in The Alliance for a few years and had some of my best times.
My greatest ally and mentor at the time had to be Pira-Ted of the great NEPA. He was awesome and knew his shit. He had connections and we became great friends.
I learned a lot from Pira-Ted including his great waring ability and diplomatic ways. Soon The Alliance broke up and I was asked to join NEC, North East Crackers. NEC at the time was the #1 cracking group in the US.
Horizon who was the leader of NEC wanted me to be part of the group because of my waring abilities, diplomacy, and my BBS. Soon there after I was asked to join Crazy and became the US Crazy HQ.
I found myself importing a lot of Euro warez to the US and helped make importing the thing to do. I was heavily into phreaking and mastered the art of obtaining the AT&T calling cards for the Euros to call the US :)
Before you know it tons of groups including FBR, INC, TWG and others also imported warez to the US, it was a great time!
What were your favourite on the C64
Demos: I loved the Fairlight intros the best!
Demo group: Fairlight
Coder: Don't remember
Musician: Rob Hubbard
C64 game: Karateka, that game rocked!
Disk magazine: INFLUX/FBR
Cracking group: NEC (Of course!) ESI was good too!
What do you think makes the C64 special, what makes it still have a following even though it is the year 2001?
The C64 scene started it all. That’s what pirating is all about. You haven't lived until you dialled a BBS at 300 baud and downloading Paperboy with punter protocol!
What are you doing that is computer related these days?
Computers are still my life. I work for a major pharmaceutical giant working in Operations supporting roughly 160+ Windows 2000/NT servers.
What is your opinion on the internet and how almost everything is or will be effected by it?
I love the internet, I think it's great. I love how you can find anything online. I don't enjoy all the viruses and script kiddies out there. I don't think kids today appreciate the internet and computers as much as I would have back when I was in the C64 scene.
I remember how when you tried to explain the C64 scene and BBSes to someone back in the 80s, they looked at you like you were from another planet.
Today you can hear about 70 year old member talking about how they downloaded this and how they scanned in their grand children's pictures and edited the red eye out with Photoshop.
I am just amazed on how far we have come in the 17 years of my computing experience.
Did you ever have any problems with the law?
Nope I never got busted. I quit the scene before I turned 18 because I didn't want to go to jail. I'm sure though if any law agency went after me before I hit 18 they would have tried to prosecute me as an adult. Sprint and AT&T were starting to crack down on
phreaking just about the time I left the scene. If I would have been in it longer they would have probably nailed me.
Wars are part of the scene, tell us what you have been in involved in?
Funny you should ask! I've had my share on wars in the C64 scene. A lot of individual battles. The one war that stands out the most for me was the battle between NEC and FBR. It was an ugly war but I know I made Candyman's life a living hell :) Waring came natural to me and I was great at it. I had a lot of connections to be able to get unlisted phone numbers, addresses, credit cards, credit reports. I forgot who it was but one time I was at war with someone and was able to get a copy of his report card. I had him paged at his school and got him on the phone to tell him that I was very disappointed that he has a D in English!
Again I learned a lot from Pira-Ted of NEPA. Pira-Ted was a master of waring. I never forget until this day his battles with The Pied Piper and Player 1! Those were classic!
And of course his battles with The Head Librarian!
Pira-Ted was a great ally and friend to me. We lost touch, if he is still around it would be awesome to talk to him again!
What do you think was the better things about the BBS scene over today's internet? did it really draw the line to show who was elite and who was lame?
No doubt. Like I said earlier, if you tried to explain the BBS sceme to anyone who wasn't a part of it they would be so confused and think you were on drugs.
Only a select few knew about the C64 scene and that’s what made it great. Yeah, there were lamers who would just copy disks with Fast Hack 'em, but it was the Elite who made it possible to get those warez distributed.
Today it is so easy to find anything on the internet. The news runs stories all the time exploiting how easy it is to download anything you want. Anyone can grab warez now from newsgroups. There really isn't any challenge to it.
How would describe the differences between a illegal and a legal scener?
Well in the US it seemed that cracking sceners were deemed more important than someone who coded demos. Being that I'm from the US I was more into the cracking scene than the demos.
However I do respect the hard work that went into coding demos. I'm not much of a programmer but if I'm not mistaken, it
was hardwork to program in machine language and I respect that talent.
What is your most memorable moment in the scene?
God, I have so many. The one that stands out the most is going through the logs on my BBS and getting so excited to have 60 calls a day with a lot of uploads. Also seeing tons of posts on my BBS made me excited.
Please feel free to send any greetings to anyone you know on the C64...
Well, I want to send hellos to any members of The Alliance, Crazy and NEC. I also want to say hello to Pira-Ted, Martin, Billy The Kid, Blue Devil, Horizon, Robin Hood, The Shark, Candyman and all the others who I had great times with. All the dudes in TSM, especially the dude who ran the BBS in NJ!
Thanks for your time, any last words to the scene?
The scene will live on FOREVER! If anyone who was in the scene and remembers me, email: firstname.lastname@example.org