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The online section will host everything the disk version has. The only setback for online readers is that they will have to wait some weeks AFTER the disk issue has been released. They will also miss out on the mystical atmosphere the REAL C64 version contains. The benefits of the online version will be that we can include photographs to support our articles.

ONLINE > RECOLLECTION issue 2 Menu > The Eagle Has Landed

The Eagle Has Landed
researched and edited by Jazzcat


When choosing which groups to cover for this edition of Recollection I couldn't go past one of my favourites, you can probably guess by the title of this chapter who it's going to be and I'm sure even the most naive amongst you would've been touched by their work in one way or another. In this article I hope to give you a better background on Eagle Soft Incorporated.

Most people assume that the group started as American only, this is mostly true during a later stage but not in the real beginning. The group was formed in 1982 by three Canadians. The three guys from Canada were Dan, Jason and a student who was originally from Singapore, who was the cracker of the group his name was Jim Oko (he later left Canada for California).

The name Eagle Soft Inc. came from Dan having a poster above his bed showing an eagle. They thought it was cool to have a professional sounding name, as did many young people back then, especially with adding the "Inc." on the end, which was a popular thing to do. Both Dan and Jason didn't really do much except choosing the name, doing the cracking was Jim Oko.

When you hear about Eagle Soft the first thing that you think of is their classic intro, with the picture of the Eagle, which became somewhat of an icon in the scene. Before famous members like Mitch and By-tor came along, there were no group intros at all. Back in those early days the crackers and their crews were largely unnoticed, occasionally there would be a single line in the games main menu like e.g. "cracked by Mr.Nike" or if you had a look in the memory or disk directory you might find a clue, but largely nothing. This was the same for Eagle Soft also, many of their early cracks are not associated to the group directly and in saying that, much of the early stuff is lost (as far as being associated to ESI in name).

One of the first cracks from Eagle Soft that we do know of is "Stellar 7" from 1983, which was cracked by the Singapore student that was living in Canada, Jim Oko. Another one that is very early is the utility called "Magic Desk I", also from 1983. During these early years the Canadian-based group invited a talented cracker from the USA called Mitch into their ranks. Mitch had been working solo and was noticed by them. Once a member, Mitch started releasing his cracks under the ESI label and soon the three guys from Canada dropped out and Mitch took over and started to expand it as a pure American group.

The first member Mitch got in was By-tor (Fred), who took over most of the management, this allowed Mitch more time to crack. By-tor knew a local known as Scorpio (Carol) who he asked to join. Gradually the group expanded from there, taking in some locals such as The Head Librarian (John) (who left his own group ABNI - The Abusive Network Inc).

During the early years of the group which were 1982 to 1985, a steady amount of group-releases made it to the bulletin boards, piracy was still in its infancy and most of the releases just contained the text "Courtesy of Eagle Soft" or "Broken by Eagle Soft Inc". In late 1985 and early 1986 this changed, with an increased amount of releases and intros. At that point, something of interest to mention is that Eagle Soft had two females who painted graphics for them, Ladyhawk/TSC (Thee Supreme Council) and Scorpio. Ladyhawk (Jane) painted graphics for the first intro showing an eagle that was used in 1986, whilst Scorpio painted the most famous picture, used mostly in the releases between 1987 and 1988.





The group really stood out, having their own style, using witty scroll-text in their intros inspired by the Canadian rock group known as Rush. Some of the lyrics used made real good sense in conjunction with ESI as a cracking group, such as "Beneath the noble bird, between the proudest words, behind the beauty, cracks appear!"

Epyx were the main company that were targeted and ESI literally snatched and released all their titles. Most of the games released back then were cracked by Mitch and in some cases other crackers in the group such as Kombalar (Chris) and Mutant-X (Tom). Their main supplier during their most active year (1987) was the group SOHO (Suppliers Of Hot Originals) and of this group the supplier was Tinman (Charlie), who later joined ESI in 1988 (a subtle way for ESI to eliminate supply to other groups also).





Between 1986 and 1987 the group really controlled the market, totally dominating the North American scene and forever inscribing their names into memories of people even to this day. In this issue of Recollection I managed to speak with Mitch about those early days...


Interview with MITCH


R)
Hi Mitch and welcome!
Please introduce yourself to the scene, who you were and who you are today...

M)
I was/AM Mitch from Eagle Soft Inc. (ESI). I was the #1 cracker in USA at one point in time, if you thought I released a lot of warez; there were tons of programs that I didn't put my name on, mostly applications, and educational warez. I had a few internal contacts inside the magazines that reviewed software, and got that software before the stores. Plus I did have contacts at the stores... really handy. :)

I'm not directly in any scene now; I only crack a ware or two for myself... I did say when I was young I didn't want to work in the computer industry at all and for a LONG time I didn't. I was in the car audio business; I owned my own store for a few years. But sales were just not the same year after year, so I met someone, and jumped ship and now program control systems for audio and video gear.


R)
A rumour went around that ESI was actually formed in 1981 on the VIC20. I don't believe this to be the case. You owned a VIC20, did you do any releases and were there other groups on the VIC20 at this time?

M)
ESI was not started on VIC20, I did own a VIC20 as my 1st computer, but I had C64 and the VIC20 was long gone (I sold it) by the time ESI started in 1982(ish). I don't think I released anything for VIC20, it was my learning machine...


R)
How was Eagle Soft Inc., formed on the C64?

M)
I was cracking on my own... then bumped into 3 people from Canada, how I can't remember. Jason, Dan, and geeze I can't remember, the student from Singapore... and I joined them, shortly taking it over completely, then eventually losing complete contact with them. I ran with it, a cool name, sounded like a real company... and I thought it was. :)


R)
You have a member from Singapore also, the founder of the group. He was the first real cracker for ESI? What was his name and how did you guys have contact with him?

M)
Yes, he cracked before I got in the group. Did Stellar 7 in 1983, but then just dropped out of sight...


R)
So this guy from Singapore was already cracking under ESI. By-tor was already in the group?

M)
Nope, By-tor came in afterwards... after I was in.... and he didn't crack, just be a kick ass distribution, and good friend also, I'm not sure what was cracked by ESI before me, ONLY 1 ware that I can think of, Steller 7.


R)
In an old interview you mentioned your first ever crack was Repton by Sirius in 1983. How did you start to learn cracking and was you self-taught or did someone help you to start with?

M)
I don't know if this is my 1st crack, I'd say its NOT, all self-taught. Unfortunately I tossed all my C64 stuff... that would maybe be able to date things, the only thing left is scrolls in loaders. A lot of my early cracks had NO loaders, just editing the (C)opyright message, so there are no dates.


R)
Who were some of the other groups or people you knew around 1982 and 1983. Did these people inspire you?

M)
In 1982, there was not much out there, I met some killer people. Mr. Nike was just a fantastic cracker, and he and I became friends. Also Sauron... a lot developed towards the AMIGA scene years later. Oh, there was one killer cracker also in Germany I talked to a lot, forgotten his name. Outside of those I mentioned, I didn't know any others, I certainly didn't think anyone else in USA was even close to my level...


R)
Your handle was often just signed with Eagle Soft but Mitch is just your first name?

M)
I think it was just Mitch... that is my first name...


R)
You did the manual and copy protection sheet for the game 'Pirates!', written entirely in BASIC? Did you do code many tools and other programs that you can remember?

M)
I remember that, what a game that was. :)

Yes I had many tools, custom versions of Machine Language Monitors, custom Kernels...





R)
The Head Librarian was a good friend. He was the guy leading the war against JJ the Breaker's group UCF? How did all of that start? It seems to be one of the most famous wars. But there were also other wars also like with the Bencor Brothers.

M)
Yes... he was a bit rough on the edges, but he defended me I don't really remember how it started... a bit of jealousy, and the fact that if u called me on the phone and I didn't really want to know you, I was rude. It was an attempt to make sure you didn't call again...


R)
You were inspired by the band RUSH, from that inspiration you guys created your trademark?

M)
YES, just my general fascination with Canada, I guess.

Rush and hockey...


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

M)
Why, because they were there... I got competitive at times, but I like beating the programmers who thought they could get fancy.


R)
Epyx really got a belting from you guys!!!

M)
Indeed they did. :)


R)
Which games were the hardest you ever worked on and what was the longest time you ever worked on a game?

M)
Summer Games or something like that, maybe Summer Games II, or there was a Epyx game that was hard to write a loader because the games was so big, some truck thing, I forget now.


R)
What boards were around in the very early days and do you remember their names?

M)
The Fountain of Lamneth (By-tor's)
The Home for the Addicted Pirate (mine)

I didn't do too much BBS'ing... others did that dirty work...


R)
What is your favourite game and why?

M)
Pirates... just plain cool
Lode Runner (addictive)
Jumpman (simple, but fun, and it was early in the c64 scene)

My favorite game and a tricky crack was Maniac Mansion. That kept me and my brother up late nights under covers with the portable c64 trying to win!


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

M)
What the Europeans got out of the SID and VIC-II chips... some amazing demos, some amazing graphics. American games always had better game play... but Euro games looked cool.


R)
What did the average day of Mitch look like at the height of your C64 days?

M)
Hmm... school... work... C64 until very late at night and weekends was all night'ers to crack. Some companies used the same copy protection over and over, so I could bang them out in a few seconds then I'd call John, The Head Librarian, and he would get it and then distribute everywhere.


R)
Did you work for many software companies, if so, who and what?

M)
NONE, people thought I did... but NOPE.


R)
What were your main source of originals??

M)
Retail store, that rented software, I got it before it was rented. He wanted me to crack it to make a "back up". Then inside sources at magazines and a store in the mall.


R)
What tools did you use on C64?

M)
Hesmon, RapiDos... few others I can't remember.


R)
Who were the ESI exclusive partners for spreading in Europe? In the early days it would have been no one, but later on ESI would have had Euro groups importing?

M)
I had no contacts in Europe, anyone who claimed ESI in Europe is lying...


R)
ESI had the legendary intro with the eagle. Who did the code?

M)
I did all the code for all the intros.


R)
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?

M)
Yes... and it allowed people to remember, you see intro, you know it.


R)
There were always rumours that your intros were made with an intromaker. Any truth there? (There is actually an intromaker out there which has similar or same code - but could easily be crap created to help that rumour)

M)
Not to any of the OFFICIAL intros... you never know what other people make and slap on it when they import it to Europe.

I have seen that...

Also a lot of my cracks had NO intro... especially applications.


R)
Did you have any relations with the guys who wrote the books "Inside Commodore DOS" and "1541 User's Guide"?

M)
I knew a lot of people, Jim Butterfield... if you know where I'm from, I was only minutes away from the Commodore HQ in West Chester PA, I knew a bunch of people there mostly when I went to the Amiga!

Hung with Bryce Nesbitt... now there is a name. Also knew Mike Henry... another interesting name...


R)
Mike J. Henry and Fast Hack'em. Those were the days. C64s were so expensive then. How much would it cost?

M)
C64 was $595 when it came out, but it dropped with in a year, then dropped again... I think $199'ish


R)
Did you start off with tape drive or disk drive? Did you crack from both tape and disk?

M)
Yes, TAPE. No cracking on TAPE! Tape wasn't big here in the states...


R)
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?

M)
Great guy, did a lot for me personally when I was a teenager.


R)
Out of all other crackers in America/Canada, who was the ones that you could say matched your level of skill?

M)
At that time... Mr. Nike would be the only one that comes to mind...


R)
There were always rumours your cracks were really just unprotected or beta copies of games straight from the developer/publisher. Any truth there?

M)
NOPE.


R)
Do you remember JJ the Breaker stealing your disk routine for cracking EA games?

M)
Nope... he might of, I don't remember. it was a clever loader, I probably still got the floppy with the source on it somewhere.


R)
You went to Amiga. Can you tell us about ESI and your work on Amiga?

M)
I did a lot on the Amiga, most of the games came from Europe, but I did a few what a great machine, this machine I do miss... It was short lived a few years, then I went 386... and the PC became the computer of choice... When win95 came out I went full PC... I never used anything but DOS before that...


R)
Any last words for the C64 world?

M)
I miss some of the good people... there were a lot, many more good than bad, that's for sure.

Mitch

RUSH #1



(Jazzcat)
As mentioned at the start of this article, the infant days of Eagle Soft were over 20 years ago, which is shown here in the interview with Mitch, where much is forgotten. In saying that, this is one of the reasons the Recollection magazine exists, to capture this history before it is lost forever.

During the interview with Mitch I touched on the war that ESI had with another big USA group that was called the Untouchable Cracking Force (UCF). The war is possibly the most famous battle between any American groups ever and officially began on March 28th 1987. It was not just a match of words but a match of skill and of wares and of backing up the statements made, unlike the modern scene - there was simply much more at stake back then. Anyway, many people seem to have forgotten what started the war, despite there being quite a few demos and releases covering it (a lot of the demos from UCF incidentally were coded by a non-UCF member from my own country, Australia, he was known as "Crocodile Chris"). Here is an excerpt from a discussion I had with another former Eagle Soft member...

The Hell Hacker:
One of the biggest wars I remember was ESI versus UCF. That was amazing. I knew JJ the Breaker (he was in Michigan at the time), and he was a good friend. I also started to get friendly with Mitch (ESI) at the end of the war. Basically, what it was all about, was Mitch accused JJ of stealing his cracking routine for EA games (which I later used as the basis for decrypting Kings of the Beach). I don't remember the exact game. It might have been Murder Party, but I'm not 100% sure. JJ basically told me (he let me listen to Mitch's rant on his voice mail) that he looked at the protection routine and couldn't see any other way to do it. Breaking this scheme took Mitch 3 days, I think. Electronic Arts had some nasty protection as they grew as a company. It was basically a FAT TRACK on one of the higher tracks on the disk, which was the actual protection, but the hard part was the loader. It was encrypted like you wouldn't believe, it sat in high memory past $f000, and the drive code itself was encrypted. EA also used UNDOCUMENTED OP-CODES to make it even harder to crack...





(Jazzcat)
The allegations didn't stop there either, JJ The Breaker accused Mitch of stealing some routines from Triad's crack of "211B Baker Street" in order to crack another game called "Gunslinger". He was also accused of stealing other routines also. The war was nasty, Mitch continued cracking whilst a lot of the ragging was left for The Head Librarian to handle. On UCF's side it was members like Phantom Shark and Player =1= that were mainly involved (leaving their main cracker, JJ the Breaker, to handle the cracks just like Mitch was doing). The war was brutal and personal information was brought up on everyone. During a real scene war personal information such as real name, address, phone numbers (work, home, school, family) etc., was a major weapon and was used frequently with no regard to the repercussions. During this period Mitch and JJ actually talked to each other on the phone all the time. They were pretty friendly and would talk about different cracks that they did when they beat each other. Sort of a `Hey, here`s what I did, how did you do it?` They were actually not at war while the groups and rest of the scene were.

During the war, some (and I stress only some) of the things that happened were:

* Accusing The Music Man for being jailed for child molestation (which according to some is sadly quite true).

* Captain Kidd was wheelchair-bound and he was often called Captain Cripple. Or "that he had a sign on the back of his wheelchair that said: I brake for homosexuals".

* The Head Librarian was called "Givin' Head Librarian"

* Renaming war notes and other propaganda into game files e.g. "Sub Battle.lnx". This tricks people into thinking it is a new game and is an assured way that the note or war demo gets maximum spreading.

* Using war-dialers to either annoy the hell out of an individual or to keep a line busy. For example, you have a new game, you know some other group has it too, so while you crack the new game you have your members "auto-dial" or "war-dial" all the groups BBS'es so that the lines were busy, that way even if the other group finished their crack they couldn't upload it because the line was engaged. :) For those who came in a bit later, War-Dialers are just a simple program used in conjunction with your 300/1200/2400 baud modem. The program would give you options such as the number(s) to be dialed, how many times to be dialed, duration of call before disconnection, etc.







* The war-dialing and normal prank call was done to not only the sceners involved but also sceners' parents, employers, school teachers and anyone that would cause the "enemy" harm.

* Taping phone call conversations on conferences and one-to-one calls. In particular Pira-Ted and The Head Librarian were notorious for putting people in awkward situations and record it to use it to their benefit.

* Sending C.O.D. (Cash On Delivery) packages to people. Just another technique used to "get" at people.

Of course there were many more things done, but this gives you an idea of the magnitude of this war, considering quite a lot of guys were simultaneously doing this! The war consumed the North American pirate scene. Most groups and individuals were either on the side of ESI or together with UCF, very few remained neutral. Some of the groups involved were:

The Alliance, NEPA (North East Pirates Association), USSPE (United States Software Pirating Exchange), UAN (Underground Anarchist Network), TOPPS (The Original Professional Pirate Society), WGO (We Got Originals), FBR (Fucked Beyond Repair), TSI (Tiger Soft Incorporated) and Kangol Kid from Red Sector.

After several months the war died off and eventually so did UCF.

Player =1= of UCF spoke to me regarding the war with ESI:

The war started after I mouthed off to The Head Librarian one time on his voicemail. I had been silent and had absorbed a great deal of abuse and instigation for months but finally blew my stack one time and they immediately responded with a declaration of war. John the Head Librarian was a true warmonger (Pira-Ted was also one and so was Captain Kidd). John loved to harass and pick on other people and always was doing this as long as I knew him. I actually think he enjoyed this much more than collecting or cracking software. He seemed to always want to make himself look better by making other people look bad. I was in his group ABNI for a few months back in 1986. I quit ABNI after a few months because I didn't like some of the things he was doing to other people (always picking fights with innocent people) and I didn't want to be a part of it.







Once I quit his group he had a grudge against me and he attacked the next group I was in (Bencor Brothers) partly because I was in it and partly because he was dying to go to war with some of the other members of Bencor Brothers like Heat Miser (Tim). John and Ted were crazy guys and were practically insane. I believe both had serious mental problems and anti-social personality disorders. They seemed to enjoy being cruel to others and harassed others endlessly. The C-64 scene was an unregulated, illegal and anonymous world that attracted some weird adults who enjoyed acting out fantasies of being powerful.

Well, I probably talk a lot about the wars but really there isn't that much to say. I only knew those people as vicious enemies so really there isn't much to talk about. Lots of name calling, endless lies about UCF on their voicemail line, demos, rag Koala picture shows, and verbal abuse.

As I remember, the leaders of ESI and NEPA were total assholes and jerks. Mitch wasn't really a leader in the sense he was reticent and no one ever heard him say anything publicly. He was known for being an arrogant guy at the time, although it was probably justified considering his contributions. At the time, he let John (The Head Librarian) do whatever he wanted and went along with whatever he did, so John became identified as the true leader of ESI and had no one to restrain his bad behavior. I don't know much about the other members of ESI and NEPA but I suspect they were not as bad as the leaders, and may have been friendlier towards us if the leaders had been friendlier.





(Jazzcat)
There was no real winner in the war, both sides had victories and losses, but what had happened over a period of around 5 months was the most involved war in the North American scene.

Now I would like to welcome another member of Eagle Soft Inc. that I had the pleasure of chatting with lately, he was one of the key members... introducing By-tor.


Interview with BY-TOR


R)
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.


R)
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).


R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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. :)


R)
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.





R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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).


R)
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.





R)
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.


R)
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.



R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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!


R)
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.


R)
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.


R)
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!


R)
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!


(Jazzcat)
In 1988-89 many things happened. The old made way for the new. UCF disbanded around late 1988 after JJ the Breaker (Joe) decided to join the Navy. Despite what some would have thought at the time, it had nothing to do with the ESI war. JJ was about 19-20 and felt it was time to move on with his life and start a career. Phantom Shark/UCF (Jack) also decided to quit the C64 around this time since he was 22. He had put a lot of effort into the group and may have even lost a girlfriend over the time spent on UCF. In the end bitter about the "war" and probably felt he got little in return for his effort, considering all the hassles he had to endure. Player=1= ran UCF's central trading BBS, "Wares to Go" and also did quite a bit of importing for the group from friends in Europe. But with Joe and Jack gone, there was no reason to continue the group since the heart of the group was gone. Joe did continue to put out a crack here and there under the UCF name while in the Navy, but nothing like before.

Eagle Soft continued cracking for about another year. By then the NTSC C64 game market was slipping away in favour of the Amiga. The amount of American software was drying up to a trickle but Europe continued to produce many titles which were being imported to the states. Many C64 cracking groups started to disappear around this time but many dedicated traders persisted. ESI had very little competition during this time aside from ATC (A Touch of Class). ESI ended in late 1989 amidst a huge war with Pira-Ted. Pira-Ted and The Head Librarian had long been "war" friends and allies. For years, one would start a war with someone or another group, and the other would join in and help. The wars unified them and helped to keep them on the same "side" with each other.

Once there was no UCF to pick on, it was inevitable that their COLLOSSAL egos would collide and they eventually turned on each other. Pira-Ted got tired of being the leader of NEPA (universally regarded as a lame group that did nothing but harass people) and demanded ESI to let him join the group. The members of ESI knew he was a control freak who would try to take over the group and run it his way, which they didn't want. They didn't let him join ESI (even though Captain Kidd had been admitted) and in response Pira-Ted declared war on ESI and tried to turn all of them in to the phone company and FBI. He then disconnected his ties to the cracking scene totally, even making his BBS public domain only. In turn, ESI ostracized Pira-Ted (look at the intro to ESI's Ikari Warriors, it's hilarious) and drove him out of the C-64 scene. He ended his days as a member of some lame group. Despite this, ESI continued to release cracks (much to Epyx and other companies displeasure). Mitch was semi-retired during this stage, as you can read in the scroll text of "Takedown" where he states he come out of retirement basically to crack it. Eventually the group closed its doors on the C64 to fully establish itself on the new playground called Amiga.

On the Amiga, Eagle Soft were quite famous, especially considering that quite a few C64 groups and sceners were also on the Amiga. After a few years Mitch lost interest in computers in general and Eagle Soft Amiga was closed down. Mitch moved into the car audio business and after a while this venture didn't go too well. Around this time By-tor got in contact with Mitch and got him interested in computers again - and so Eagle Soft PC was born. Eagle Soft PC lasted between 1997 to 2001 and was started on the dal.net IRC server. On this server they had a big channel for warez.




Logo for PC-division by By-tor.



During this time they released some "ISOs", normally cracked upon the requests of friends. Mitch cracked using his PC nickname "Rush2112", however he sometimes reverted back to using "Mitch".

Eventually Eagle Soft PC closed down after another group of imposters used their ASCII logo on their releases. A war was almost started, but by then members were just too old, married and didn't care too much. In 2006 most of the members are in their forties and fifties and are married with children and sometimes grandchildren! From a cracking perspective, Mitch still shows an interest, but only upon request from his friends.

This article was quite an effort from both myself, Mitch and By-tor. I had to check almost every Eagle Soft release, this included cross-referencing, sending many questions to By-tor and Mitch, check war demos and notes and a LOT more. Hopefully it was worth it and people can now be enlightened by the history of one of the most famous groups ever on the Commodore.



Some interesting Eagle Soft trivia:

- Did you know that Mitch credited his work in different ways other than just Mitch? For example he used the handle 'Eagle Soft'. So as to not cause confusion between Eagle Soft and Eagle Soft, Inc., he'd sometimes write 'Mr. Eagle Soft', 'Mitch' or just 'The Guy'.

- "Midwest Term" was one of the very first modem terminal programs for the C64 and was coded by Mitch in 1984. His follow-up to this was "Eagle Term" which was coded together with Allan Teo and Don Holtz. Incidentally Don, who was from Canada, later got involved with David Foster and did some code in Dragons' Lair for Amiga published by ReadySoft Inc.

- Mean Gene (aka The Gunner) passed away in 2004. He died after a long struggle with cancer. R.I.P.

- A rumour was spread about the release of the game "Gunship" that a member of ESI had broken into the apartment of one of the game's programmers and stolen his floppy disks. This is false.

- Mitch's parents owned a candy store! :)

- Storm joined ESI PC. He was only 15 at the time but lied about his age (said he was 21) to get into the group. At the age of 15 he was responsible for hacking into NASA's sites several times.

- Tinman supplied originals not only to ESI, but also to UCF, NFI, and NEC. Tinman's store, The Great Escapes, paid extra to have the originals express-posted to his store so that the groups he worked with had a 1-2 day advantage over the competition.

- Before joining ESI, The Butcher was a member of INC. He started acting weird and when INC leader The Shark asked him why he was acting so weird, he wouldn't answer. So, The Shark kicked him from the group. Because of this question, The Butcher created his new group called WHY? It turned out that he was upset and felt threatened that INC had added another member into their ranks to help with the importing duties. Further, The Butcher was beginning to talk with ESI while in INC. WHY? was a short lived group, and shortly after forming, The Butcher killed his group and joined ESI.

- Who was Tron of Eagle Soft? Do you all remember those European cracks from an all-Americal group? Do you remember the Dutch member Tron of Eagle Soft who asked the world if anyone out there wanted to buy or swap with the legendary ESI? Do you remember a P.O. Box in Holland? So who was the one who disappeared as fast as he came? No idea? Believe it or not it was MWS of Radwar who used to be Tron of ESI! Not really of course - first thought of as a joke, he was surprised by the big response and started up with the P.O. Box in Holland! Not only lamers replied, but such elites as Hotline, BROS, Action and lots more! In the end MWS earned a lot of money through this.



ESI members:

Binjinx
Blackhawk - Coder, Cracker
By-tor - Modem trader, Organiser, PR Manager (Fred)
Captain Kidd - Organiser (Bob)
Changeling - Coder
Dan - Founder (Dan)
Depeche Mode - Sysop
Fletcher - Sysop - (Christian)
Ghost Rider
Jason - Founder (Jason)
Jim Oko - Founder, Cracker (Jimmy)
Kombalar - Cracker (Chris)
Ladyhawk - Graphician (Jane)
Mean Gene - Local supplier (Gene)
Mitch - Cracker, Organiser, Candy Supplier (Mitch)
Mr.IBM - Courier (Joe)
Murder - Swapper - (Dortmund, Germany)
Mutant-X - Cracker, Graphics - (Tom)
Pathfinder - Sysop (Deepack)
Prowl - Sysop (Jeff)
Scorpio - Original Supplier, Modem Trader, Courier, Graphics (Carol)
Simple Solutions
The Butcher - Original Supplier, Importer (Bob)
The Fugitive - (Joe)
The Gamer - Original Supplier (Mark)
The Head Librarian - Original Supplier, Courier (John)
The Hell Hacker - Cracker (Andy)
The Joker - Cracker
The Music Man - (Chuck)
The Necromatic - Sysop (Jack)
Tinman - Original Supplier (Charlie)

(NOTE: There are a lot of people who claimed to be in ESI, it just wasn't the case, there were a few token members but that was it!)


ESI affiliated boards:

Data shack I (Larry)
Data shack II
Future World (The Necromatic)
HMS Bounty (Fletcher)
Prowl's Place (Prowl)
Shake The Disease (Depeche Mode)
The Fountain of Lamneth (By-tor)
The Home for the Addicted Pirate (Mitch)
The Portal
Tunnel of Wares (Pathfinder)



Eagle Soft Incorporated
The Few - The Proud - The Best
1982 - 1989




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