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Best Of Times
by King Fisher/Triad
It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. Computers were the only fun things around that weren't already forbidden to be messed with. Now there were these games, which you copied and I really hated most of them but hey, there were these cool intros in front of them. Now these guys would take cool names like "Eagle Soft Inc.", "Yeti Factories", "Hotline" and so on, they were so many that you soon had the idea of a kazillion groups of thriving bubbling subculture that somehow still failed to show up in the streets in stark contrast to all the other tasteless stuff of the 1980ies, such as plastic ear clips, Huey Lewis and The News and Soda streamer machines.
These guys would write in theatrical pompous language about themselves and others, a style reminiscent of JRR Tolkien or the Arthur Saga. They sure wanted to give the impression that they'd been around for ages and were mostly real old people, posing out and such when the truth was that they were 15-year olds who started this group yesterday and really only two members in best case.
But the myth caught on: to other 15-year olds good names like Triad, TMC (The Mercenary Cracker, Charles Deenen really) or Jazzcat (sorry, not you David, the group that was around in 1985) or 1001 Crew (rumoured to aim at having exactly that amount of members, i.e. 1001 binary = 9 members) would mix this sub cultural goods from yesterday in their heads and confuse the event when group X told Y to sod off with the time when Moses parted the Red Sea or at least the Dresden Bombings. Mythologies told to 15-year olds have this effect.
So many observers have missed the significance of myth: crackers and hackers of the C64 created myth around themselves (well, perhaps them guys on Apple ][ or TRS-80 were first really) that took its own life. They freaking bootstrapped the scene by an act of stage magic: they pretended this scene had some long since lost prosperous past that they could refer to as if they were well-known legends. If the scene had some prosperous past it would be in the Homebrew Computer Club in Silicon Valley or the Yippie Era of Cap'n'Crunch and his phreaker dudes (you DO know these guys don't you?) and those were really just ordinary engineering blokes wearing ugly clothes in the 1970ies, and it certainly wasn't any older than that.
But these early groups of the early 1980ies, they created it all, really. All the names and manners, all the funny lingo (like stealing the word "Lamer" from skateboard slang and using for computer illiterates) all the beginnings of the Demo Scene (those rasterbars, home drawn fonts and sinusoid sprites), all that cool stuff. Exactly who and where is still a subject of debate I believe.
Linus aka KF