Interview with Sir CyRo
Published in Vandalism News #35
Performed by Jazzcat
In the older times, importing groups and general scene activities in the USA were quite intense. Everyone had their role in that society and here we present one of them for you. He was a CC supplier, sysop and wares runner for some of the most elite groups of the golden era of cracking/importing.
Please welcome, Sir CyRo...
Welcome to the pages of Vandalism. Please introduce yourself to the readers...
My name is John, and my nick is Sir CyRo. Currently, I am a courier in WaR and supplier in iNTUTiLS for PC warez.
If possible, could you tell us when you first joined the scene and your scene history (or general highlights)?
I guess I started kind of late in the 64 scene, according to some of the magazines I have been reading. I first got my C64 in 1987. I had it for 6 months before I even knew I had a modem on it, or what a modem was. A buddy of mine, Zodiac, got me into calling BBSes. He showed me how to download games and load/run them. I would also disk swap games with him and other friends. This was all done on a local BBS scene basis. I guess I got into the warez scene later that year. No one really got me into it, I just sorta found it.
It all started one day when I called a BBS that had a private sub, of which I had access to. Some sysop, named Karate Kid, also ran The Dojo, a local Mirage HQ, posted a code in that sub.
I had been noticed that groups would have intros to games and list BBS #s. I used that code to call a few boards until I found one that worked. I think the first board I got on was some Mirage HQ in Michigan. From there, it was just a matter of trading warez, getting credits, etc.
During your active period on the C64, what were some of the importing groups around and what boards did you call?
I remember ESI, Fairlight, ATC, NEC. When I first got into warez scene, USA companies were still releasing games. But not for long. The following year, C64 games in the USA started drying up; mad most games, except for the major ones, and were coming out in Europe and being imported.
The boards I called the most were Channel -0-, The Forum, 2nd To None, Social Distortion, Disintegration, South Of Heaven, and of course, The Soul Pit!
Your BBS was your ticket into the group scene. Guess you made quite some friends as your BBS became more and more frequented?
I ran a BBS 3 times.
The 1st time was about a year after I got my C64. I tried running Cnet 8.0, but eventually went to C*Base 2.0 I can't remember what my 1st BBS was called. When I went to college, I put up a board in Kansas City. Now the interesting thing about this was, there were no decent BBSes in the entire city. The boards there were ALL running some lame BBS program, which kinda looked like UCBBS, but not even nearly as nice as that. All bland, no colour, couldn't add colour to your posts, nothing! BORING!
I put up my BBS, called Hades, using C*Base 2.0, and pasted it with graphics from the graphics groups in the warez scene. It became the most popular board in the city, and C*Base ended up selling like hot cakes in the area.
When I got back from school, I ran The Soul Pit, which was a hack/phreak/anarchy board. I was pretty strict with my board.
My #1 rule was, "post a working code on each call, or you'll be deleted, point blank". I did not want any code leechers on my board. Because of the rule, and because each caller knew they could find working codes on my board, the BBS grew in popularity fast.
I met most people I knew through my BBS one way or another.
Apart from SOUL PIT, you also helped with the other famous BBS, South of Heaven?
Yes, in fact, you can see a complete review of this BBS in Censor Design's Sh0ck magazine, issue #8, I think. South of Heaven was Verdict/NEI HQ. I knew the sysop from the days when I ran Hades.
When NEI's HQ, Reign in Blood, went down, I talked Grim Reaper into using SOH, since it had a large hard drive and fast modem.
We named the board, South of Heaven to keep the Slayer reference going!
Please tell us about your friendship with the inventor of C*Base and also the story about him and his competitor, the author of GSBBS...
For those not familiar with this history. GSBBS was originally a competitor of CNET BBS, which was a kinda techy looking BBS program. This GSBBS supported a lot of the special posting codes that CNET had, but it had more colour support. And it was faster and easier to setup. In GSBBS, unlike CNET, posts were one after another, where in CNET, you make a post and people replied to that thread.
A lot of the common Internet Web Forums follow the same form as CNET. Anyway, GSBBS had it's bugs, so this guy, Gunther Berznikes, decided to write a better version and call it C*Base.
The funny thing is, the authors of both programs lived across the street from each other, and seemed to be good friends. I got drunk at a few parties Gunther held.
You were employed to NEC/NEI as a hacker to begin with. I used to do some stuff as well, including the popular 'social engineering' for the benefit of my group. Did you ever have any close encounters with the authorities or law agencies? Did you ever phreak to Europe or only inter-state?
Nope! I never understood how someone could be so stupid to get busted.
Back in the late 80's, the phone systems didn't have Caller ID, and only the most advanced PBX's had ANI installed (ED - Automatic Number Identification). So, it was pretty safe to call some schmuck's house, and pretend to be from TelCo, and sucker them into reading their calling card # over the phone.
I guest most people got busted because they got narced. No one even threatened to narc on me because I was real friendly and got along with almost everyone.
What is your definition in the scene of LAME and ELITE? Any examples?
LAME was user's who simply didn't have a clue. Also, I defined lamers as people who simply leeched all the time, but did not contribute to the scene.
ELITE meant, to me, having access to information that the normal every day BBS caller would not have access to. This could mean, having access to 0 day warez, hack/phreak codes, or even access to CBI/TRC.
What release or scene effort impressed you the most on C64?
I can't remember many of the games I played back then. I do remember playing Neuromancer a lot.
What's your view on the internet in respect to the scene and also commercialisation?
The internet is a lot faster, period. Not only that, the simple fact that you can multi-task on one computer makes life a lot easier. FTP sites have replaced BBSes as a place to store warez.
Probably the worst thing about BBSes was that you could only call one at a time, and if you only had one computer, which I did, if you dialled out, you were tying up your BBS line. Now, I can download from multiple FTP sites at the same time, while chatting on IRC, and even posting on an internet BBS.
The scene is also a lot faster, and because it seems too easy to get software via the internet, the scene is even more competitive. There isn't much software that you can find either on the web, or in stores that hasn't been cracked and released on the FTP sites.
How would describe the differences between scene personalities in the HACKING scene and CRACKING/IMPORTING scene?
From what I remember, the cracking scene was mostly about warez. Well it was all about warez. Getting games and apps, and cracking them, then releasing them to the top BBSes.
The hacking scene, had two fairly distinct scenes. These were the code hackers and phreakers, and then there were the system hackers.
System hackers would use war diallers, looking for carriers, and would then try to hack into the computers that were on the other end of the line. A lot of times, they were UNIX, VAX/VMS systems. The early system hackers would hack into TELENET (no, not telnet, different thing), and the early internet. I tried getting into this, but it confused the hell out of me.
What is your reaction when I tell you that the C64 scene is still alive. There are still new demos, games, disk magazines, cracks and tools being produced. There are even still a few boards left in both the USA and Europe.
Well, I am really surprised that games are still sold for the C64. I give the 64 credit for having the best games at the time when it was hot, but I can't imagine anyone wanting to play a game on a c64 when you have the sheer beauty of games such as Unreal Tournament, Descent Freespace, Deus Ex.
I can imagine enthusiasts and hobbyists still writing demos and such on the C64. And for the same reason, some BBSes still running.
Tell me what comes to your mind when I say these words:
MITCH versus JJ THE BREAKER - I remember Mitch was the cracker for ESI. I don't know the other name.
LORDS - A demo group I think. I didn't get too much into the demo scene.
BOD/IKARI+TALENT - Man, I talked with this guy for hours at a time. I supplied him with several cards, because I+T would supply cracks to NEI. He was a really cool guy. And funny too!
GRIM REAPER - One of the coolest people in the scene. Not only was I in the same group as him for warez, but we traded music cassettes as well. I remember telling him, "Man, listen to Smashing Pumpkins, they're gonna be great!".
BOARDS - I remember that the popular thing about boards was to be able to "get in, get what you want, then get out quick". That's why UCBBS was so popular, because you could get in, see the posts quickly, check the latest games, then logout, and call the next board.
SHOCK - I remember Shock, because I was good friends with Skater and Grim Reaper.
AT&T - The lovely digital GOLD that kept the scene going for years.
Nearing the end of this interview, please feel free to send greetings to anyone you know...
Well, I'd like to greet some old friends that I hope might read this one days. Greets to old friends: Vision, Avenger, Proslythesis, Sir Valiant, Bod, Skater, Butcher, Grim Reaper, Horizon, Murdock, Druid, Razor Blade, Gunther, and Zodiac (Domonic!!!!!)
Thanks for your time, any last comments for the audience?
Well, I'd have to say that I really miss the personable days of the C64 scene. I miss TALKING to people. So much of the internet these days is just data. Getting data from the net, chatting with a nick on IRC, uploading and downloading. But you never really talk with anyone. I miss the conference calls, and bullshitting on the phone for hours, Calling up sysop's houses, and shooting the breeze. Maybe that will come back with emerging technologies in ICQ Talk and MSN.
Right now, the warez scene is so risky. And busts happen all the time. It needs to back to the application, 3 references, prove yourself method used in the BBS days.
Well, I hope everyone enjoy and got very bored reading my interview. :)