Interviews



Interview with By-Tor

Published in Recollection #2
Performed by Jazzcat



J)
Welcome! Please introduce yourself to the readers.

B)
My name is Fred, I went by the handle of By-tor and today I work for a huge company that provides digital cable, high speed internet and digital telephone. I'm also recently married and about to purchase our 2nd home in San Diego, California.


J)
Can you tell us what you did on the C64 before your time in ESI?

B)
Before I got into ESI I was in several groups. Including one created by myself and Mr. Iceman called PhunSoft Inc. I was in Starfleet H-Q (creators of 1541 drive kit which was a utility released as legal software by Marty and The Goose).


J)
ESI was started in 1982. Who was it started by and how did you get involved?

B)
I'm not sure as to how it really got started in Canada. All I know is that Mitch invited me to ESI after many rumours that he hated me and I hated him (even though we did not know each other at all) - all gossip! Then one day we got stuck on a conference call together with many others and we found out we had one major thing in common. We were both RUSH fanatics. We started talking, became good friends and I was the first person he asked to join, from then on the Canadian gang died out and ESI became an all out USA crew. I only met the guys from Canada briefly... to be honest I thought Mitch was alone from the beginning and I was the first one he asked to join but then thinking hard I did talk to some people from outside of USA in conference, but then shortly after they just dropped out. What Mitch and I started was a USA only Eagle Soft Inc, him cracking, me running the group and adding members for distribution, trading and other things.



J)
You were a distributor for ESI?

B)
Distributor in the sense that I coordinated our releases to be moved and released to the boards. But I was mostly a manager, as in dealing with other groups, assigning members jobs and positions, while Mitch concentrated solely on cracking. I did manage to get a couple members that did supply originals to be sent to Mitch for release.


J)
The music group Rush helped you with your handle?

B)
Of course, I took my handle directly from the song off of the CARESS OF STEEL album. From the song THE NECROMANCER. By-tor was a bad character off a previous album FLIGHT BY NIGHT, By-tor and the Snow Dog, but was converted to a goodly prince in the Caress of Steel album. He was the hero and that is why I took the handle. :)


J)
Who were some of the other groups or people you knew in the early days. Who were the people who inspire you?

B)
Let's see, there were a lot of groups and its too far back. But a few that come to mind are: Phun Soft Inc., UFC, Fairlight, Starfleet HQ, NEPA, Triax.

I know Sauron inspired me, he was a good cracker - the best until Mitch came along. Other than that I mainly got into it due to a guy called THE KEEPER. He had a very, very good BBS and he DENIED me access, so I started getting into the scene to show him I didn't need him. And I remember later on he came begging for access to my OWN BBS. As well as having ESI releases hosted on his BBS.





J)
The war against UCF. How did all of that start?

B)
I'm not sure anymore. All I know is that ESI was proud and we liked to show off and it led us to many encounters, but I feel it was with good cause, as we were putting out MOST of the major titles for a good while.


J)
You ran a BBS called The Fountain of Lamneth, can you tell us about it, what speed it was, who were some of the callers and any memories from it?

B)
It started as a regular 300 baud BBS, then I remember a friend of mine called The Warlock, got me a PROMETHEUS 1200 baud modem. I ran 64 exchange for a bit modified by me to do MULTI TRANSFERS.

Then I switched over to C-NET 9.0 and 10.0. It had 2 SFD 1000 drives as well as like 2 1541 drives and I think a 1571? (all so hazy) as for callers, EVERYONE in the scene that helped courier ESI releases were on it. I had 2 lines to it at one point but that was it.


J)
Did you meet any members? Who lived close?

B)
Yes. Scorpio was local to San Diego and also The Gamer, they lived here and I was friends with them. And they could help the group as they were talented in their own way, so I invited them into ESI.


J)
What was your favourite game and why?

B)
Hmm SUMMER GAMES, the main reason was the graphics and also the ERROR 29 protection that was first of its kind, it was a challenge and so I played it mostly due to the fact we found a way to copy it (this was before the ESI era).


J)
What was the most amazing thing about the C64 in your opinion?

B)
The sound and graphics considering the amount of memory it had, that was AMAZING! But mainly it inspired a new era in computing and a new chapter in my life, as it introduced me to computers and I would never have the job I have now if I hadn't got into it.





J)
Can you tell us when and why ESI died on C64?

B)
Main reason ESI died on C64 was that all of us had achieved the highest achievement, there was nothing else to prove since we had done the biggest things there was to do. The coming of the Amiga had a very small influence I must admit, but we had grown up and moved on with regular life for the most part.


J)
Can you tell us about ESI on other formats. When and who on Amiga and PC?

B)
ESI Amiga, nothing for me about that. I left, did a lot of drugs and drank a lot. Until I got a PC and started promoting ESI by taking the nick EagleSoft. Got together a bunch of good people that knew about ESI. They had a passion for the scene and being a good leader, just ran with it, until this day. ESI did release a bit on the PC. ISO's for a bit then some personal stuff done by request only. I managed to get Mitch involved in that a bit and that's it.




Logo for PC-division by By-tor.



J)
What were the reasons for cracking games back in the early 1980s? A thrill? To compete with others? To kill Epyx?

B)
Just GLORY and FAME!. And it was part of the scene. Mostly hobby related and being part of the SCENE.


J)
I heard some rumours saying Mitch even got a credit at a bank for his "company" to finance ESI some new equipment?

B)
Never heard of that. And Mitch and I were best friends... must be just that a RUMOR.


J)
What did the average day of By-tor look like at the height of your C64 days?

B)
On C64 moving warez about 10-12 hours. And doing conferences in between. Chatting with friends and taking care of the political stuff during the conferences.


J)
Mean Gene has passed on. R.I.P. What words can you say about him, what he meant for you and what he did for the scene?

B)
An unfortunate loss. As for what he did for the scene, not much that I can remember, not too bad to talk to him. Too many things and many years have gone by to really pin point any real information unfortunately.


J)
What was the most amazing thing about the C64 in your opinion?

B)
The most amazing thing is that it brought out INNOVATION as never before. A personal computer that did SO MUCH WITH SO LITTLE!!!

It was plainly HISTORICAL. For its day, it had amazing graphics and SOUND. Compared to what is available now in PCs - pound per pound - (as in boxers) it was the best. And I cannot emphasize it enough that it was an epic step for personal computing.


J)
Did you ever imagine years later that people almost worship that intro? The one with the Eagle?

B)
Not as it has, no. I do remember we felt very empowered with our accomplishments, thanks to Mitch as he was the main reason we were so successful since he was the one that did all the cracking.

But it does feel very nice to know you have made your mark upon the world and that we have been made simply ETERNAL. Maybe not to people that know nothing about the C64, but there are enough fans out there and the ESI name and our names will always be around and remembered.


J)
Do you think the legendary intro had a lot to do with Eagle Soft's fame or what do you think it might be after all these years?

B)
NOT simply the intro. I think it was the amount of releases we had!. Think about it, without overly boasting! We were putting out about 90% of ALL CRACKS at our peak, which was for a few years! And I truly don't think that is an exaggeration!


J)
Your experiences with ESI were a major stepping stone in life?

B)
It was a DIFFERENT phase of my life, it has put me into the computer path I am in today as well as Mitch, but during the time it happened it was simply a HOBBY. Ask Mitch and he will say almost exact thing. It was simply FUN and a HOBBY. It did however shape our path in life today a bit, as we both are into jobs that have to do with computers and technology.


J)
What is your definition in the scene of LAME and ELITE any examples?

B)
Goodness gracious, that is a HARD question as it was SOOO LONG ago. But I do remember some ELITE.

TRIAD, FAIRLIGHT, JJ THE BREAKER, STARFLEET HQ (The Goose and Marty). Lame: hmm the lame are like “LAME” and the names have been lost for the most part. You got me thinking though, maybe in the future I will dig out some logs and give you some examples of lame. But in the sense of defining lame are groups that did nothing but put a name out without any real accomplishments, just to say they were part of THE SCENE. Elite are the groups that had an IMPACT ON THE SCENE. Like ESI and the groups mentioned above - groups that did SOMETHING to shape the scene.



J)
Anything interesting about ESI that you would like to mention, any fond memories or funny stories?

B)
Oh man. You ask TOUGH questions, remember I was 17 when it all started I am now, what? 44, dang about hmm MANY, MANY MOONS AGO!

But one of the memories that stick in my mind is the way Mitch and I really got together. Both were in the scene just having fun. And his name (Mr. Eaglesoft) and we were both fairly known. And I had heard he HATED me, and someone had told HIM I Hated HIM!

And we believed it! I thinking he hated me and him thinking I hated him, when in fact we did not even know each other! And I remember finally when we got caught in the same phone conference. We found out we did not hate each other but in fact we had a LOT IN COMMON. Mainly RUSH! We were both RUSH FANATICS! And we had same likes in other aspects, and we found out we got along GREAT!

So much that it is the main reason he invited me to join ESI, next thing you know him and I are ESI USA and from then on it's HISTORY!


J)
Any last words for the C64 world?

B)
Man brings tears to my eyes. Like I said it did play a major role in one of my happiest phases, especially loving technology and being up front with it and getting to the TOP in fame of that kind. Not to mention it was fun to play games with it and learn! I just cannot say enough about that little amazing machine and I KNOW it will never truly die. There will always be memories of it and will always live in all our hearts.



BONUS INFO JUST FOR FUN:

One of the best memories I have of that part of my life, was the story of Montana Wildcat and THE NIGHT OF THE HACKERS. Not sure if you remember it but it was one of the most spectacular events that occurred during that time. A man went with the nickname Montana Wildcat, he infiltrated the scene as a regular user and became part of the core of it all. Turns out he was a reporter undercover that worked for the magazine World News, wrote an article about how phreaking, hacking, cracking and trading was done. I remember it cause GREAT disruption in the scene and many major groups got together and we harassed him for 2 weeks straight, (I wish I would remember the groups names involved) his credit cards were given out, were charged up for computer equipment that went to a lot of people in the scene. His MCI cards were phreaked and loaded up with charges. He had to change his phone number 3 times during this time and cancel credit cards as there were people in groups that were great hackers and had inside info to finding out his new phone numbers and credit card numbers. Taught him a lesson he never forgot, that he was forced to write a 2nd story apologizing to all of us for lying to us and writing his story explaining the workings of the ELITE SCENE. We put him through HELL. :)

This doesn't truly convey in written words what truly went on but that is the main story. It was GREAT!

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