Interview with Anders Reuterswärd
Anders Reuterswärd is probably most known as the
erstwhile author of the C64/128 column in the Swedish Commodore magazine
Datormagazin during the first half of the nineties. He's also been running a PD
library and managed Swedish C64/128-only mag - "Eight Bits", until
After this short presentation, would you care to tell the readers a bit about yourself - how old are you, where do you live, what do you work with?
I am 58 years old and I live with my wife in a little house in Bromma, a suburb of Stockholm. Our son has recently moved out and we are now considering selling and moving to the country, but we will see what happens.
I worked for Sweden’s largest security company for 19 years, but I’ve always liked to write and started freelancing for Datormagazin a little on the side in 1988. I wrote mostly reviews of C64/C128 games, software and hardware, until eventually there was only a tiny little column in each issue.
I kept that up for many years, but grew more and more tired of my regular job and the responsibilities and demands of being a supervisor, so in 1996 I handed in my notice and started freelancing fulltime. It’s the best decision I have ever made and I thank my wonderful wife for her loving support in the matter.
I have been doing it since then, writing for various computer and yachting magazines, among them the new version of Datormagazin, which is still my main source of income. I also do web sites, computer support, translating and whatever people will pay me for. It’s not an easy life – I do not get rich and I have to work all the time, no vacations. But it pays the bills and I can work where ever I want.
When did you first come in contact with computers? When did you get your first computer, what make and model was it?
The first computer I can remember was when my father brought me to a trade fair, where they had a computer you could play tic-tac-toe on. I guess I was around ten. A few years later I had a summer job at a data center for a couple of summers in a row. They had large mainframe IBM machines and my task was to handle punch cards.
But computers were not for everyone at that time and I did not get my own until 1982, at an age of 26. It was an Acorn Atom, which I loved for its versatility. I did a lot of soldering in that machine over the years, piggybacking memory, installing ROM switches and extra boards for various purposes. I even bought an expensive diskette station, which seldom worked, always being out of alignment and getting the worse for my tinkering with it.
I abandoned my trusty Atom (I even gave it away, which I now regret deeply) for a Commodore 128 in 1986. A friend of mine had one and I got hooked. I remember that the game Elite was one of the things that lured me.
Do you still use your old machines? Are you still in touch with the C64/128 community in any way?
No, sadly I do not use them – I do not have the time. But I am dreaming of it, always saying that there will be time when I retire. Although I know there will not be… But I have three C128:s and two C64:s and a lot of extra hardware and stuff in a wardrobe, along with a lot of books and magazines, like 64’er and Compute.
I cannot say that I am in contact with the community, and in fact hardly ever were. I visit the occasional web site and have Pontus Berg (Bacchus/FLT) and Christer Rindeblad (EIC at Datormagazin) as Facebook friends…
You used your Commodore at least semi-professionally for a long time. What was it, to you, that made it so special? What made you hang on to it for so long?
I am not sure I know... I felt I did not need anything else, and did not have much to compare with, either. But I could do all I wanted on the C128, so why bother with anything else? I think the easiness came into it, too - I could understand what I was doing and what was happening, most of the time.
I actually didn't switch to Windows until I really had to, to be able to continue writing for magazines. And then I realised I could do everything there as well, and the Commodore sort of slowly slipped into the background, as I didn't have time for both.
Are you familiar with the Chameleon and the 1541-Ultimate? What are your thoughts on these, and on emulation in general?
I am familiar with them, yes, but do not have any personal experience, as I do not use my Commodores any longer. When it comes to emulation, I have tried a few C64 emulators over the years, both for Windows and for Android, but never really found the time to actually get more deeply engaged.
Rumour has it your C64 (or perhaps C128) was one of the beefiest in Scandinavia. Care to divulge what was in it at its peak?
I think that rumour was started by Christer Rindeblad… I guess it was beefy, but not to that extent. It was (is) a C128 of the original flat type with only 16k video memory, which I increased to 64k. I also put in cards for extra ROMs with a switch. I think I had JiffyDOS, KeyDOS and a few others.
But the main beefyness was on the outside. Two 1571 and one 1581 floppy drives, CMD HD-100 hard drive, 1750 REU, fourslot cartridge switcher, CMD RAMLink and probably a few things more.
I'm curious about your PD library. Did you compile all the disks yourself? Where did you find the software? And, do you still have the disks around?
Datormagazin featured a PD disk in each issue, where its content was described. The disk could be ordered for a small fee and I eventually took over the compilation and distribution. I found the software by buying PD disks myself from abroad and, as this was before the internet, downloading via Compuserve.
Apart from the more regular PD disks, which featured mostly C64 material, I also compiled and distributed GEOS PD disks for Datormagazin. I later continued this as long as Eight Bits was alive. I still have all the disks, yes.
You seem to be a pretty big fan of GEOS. What are your thoughts on newer GUI systems for the C= platform, such as Contiki and WiNGs?
I really couldn’t say. I have hardly heard of them, let alone tried them.
Tell us a bit about Eight Bits. I know it was made purely using GEOS software, what was the hardest part in doing that?
Doing the layout in GeoPublish was not too difficult, although I did not do it – I was never the editor. The hardest part was getting a good printout with a matrix printer. Eventually I bought a used laser printer.
What were your favourite foreign (non-Swedish) Commodore magazines back in the day? How would you say that Datormagazin or even Eight Bits compared to them?
There was a time when I bought and read all of them - British, American and German. But I think Compute! definitely was one of my favourites (I even wrote two articles for them - and got paid...). 64'er also was a good one, both because it lasted longer than the others and because of the depth of the stuff in it. Also the advertisements, which before the internet made it possible to find where to buy stuff. And I read German pretty well, although I would not try speaking it. I still have a lot of those magazines taking up shelf and closet space...
I would not compare Eight Bits to any professional magazine. After all, it was just a hobby project. Datormagazin, on the other hand, could definitely stand up to them in its prime.
Eight Bits featured quite a lot of scene-related articles, such as interviews and party reports. What is your own personal experience of the scene - do you for example have a favourite demo?
This was in later issues of Eight Bits, when Bosse Lövgren had left the editorship. And as I have already said, I was never into the scene. I did my own thing, which was writing for Datormagazin and later for Eight Bits, when Datormagazin dropped the C64/C128 entirely. No, no favourite demo, I hardly watched them.
Do you follow the scene today?
Thank you ever so much for your time. Best of luck to you in your future endeavours!