ONLINE > RECOLLECTION issue 3 > The Early C64 Scene
The early 80's C=64 Scene

Someday I will have to write up something rather substantial containing my memories and recollections of that time. It was far different than the scene in the late 80's, much less the 90's. This is a bit of history of my BBS, The Holiday Inn, Cambodia from 1984-1986. Also some info on a good yet unknown cracker named "The Bandit Jr." from the Dayton, Ohio area. After he found out there was already a "Bandit" (who is still very well known) he added the "Jr." to his name.

When I first put my BBS online it was very rural. I had 3 local callers and I knew them all personally. I had fewer than 10 callers in the same State which was Ohio where I was attending college. This was 1984 and though it seems old school now, I had friends who had been modem swapping since 1982 and I felt like a complete newcomer. I had been using the PET and Vic-20 since 1981/82 and got a C=64 in late 1983 but I didn't get a modem until 6 months or so later.

Eventually my BBS had about 60 registered users, 50 of them from out of state who called to swap. Most were C=64 users but a few were PC and Apple users who called for the phreaking side of things, not for games.

I met a local group of pirates who met twice a month at a friend's house. When I joined them they had a member who worked in a software shop and would get originals for us. We had a member who worked for a printing shop and would give us high quality copies of the documentation. We had The Bandit Jr. who was a very good cracker and would crack games for us. The rest were just friends who wanted free games. We never had a name for the group and never thought about forming one; we just did it for fun and free software. Share and share alike.

Bandit Jr. would take all the games and make menu-driven disks with them. Every 2 weeks we'd meet and all of us would copy his disks so the games would be nicely arranged. I had about 130 of these menu-driven disks eventually, I believe. I'd say they averaged 5-6 games per disk. I still have many of them but am not sure if they still work!

When I met this group they had no pirate BBS contact so I was it. They did have a local BBS contact but his BBS was mostly a local chat place for computer enthusiasts, with software downloads as a secondary thought.

My BBS was 300 baud and not auto-answer (C=1600 modem) so I'd talk voice for a second to everyone who called. We'd discuss what I had, what they had to trade, whether or not I had room on my floppy for it, then we'd spend an hour or more trading at 300 baud. Finally in late 1985 I got a C=1650 which was auto-answer. Phew!

Incidentally, the C=1600 worked far better for keeping the user quality top-notch because I talked to everyone voice. There was no way to fake your references.

Bandit Jr. was good but not the best, as I'm sure he'd have admitted, so when I got certain games he was very happy. I remember when I got Bruce Lee from the original Mutant-X from Texas. Later, Conan and Karateka were games Bandit Jr. wouldn't attempt to crack and we got them through my BBS.

Now, when we got these games Bandit Jr. wasn't mad that he couldn't crack them. We weren't envious or mad at the groups who did it. Quite the opposite, we were happy to get the new games to play! We respected and admired what people had done to crack these games. If we could have we'd have shaken their hands and told them how talented they were.

I remember Bandit Jr. replacing his cracks with cracks other people had done because he considered their work to be better and I remember him telling us about what a great job they'd done!

There was a LOT of software out at the time. The good groups went for the better games and tougher cracks. There was so much software being released that the groups weren't hostile toward one another as much as they were competing for bragging rights. We all knew and respected the top names and by this I'm talking about the Dynamic Duo, EagleSoft Inc. and so on. Later groups like Ikari and Dominators would become very good as well.

In the late 80's and early 90's as software started to dwindle and (let's face it) 90% of the games were Tetris clones, the groups became hostile and in a lot of cases immature. I would never condone some of the immature shit I saw groups do to each other as far as narcing, calling the pigs with false reports, trying to get others busted for carding and hacking and so on. That kind of backstabbing nonsense made no sense to me. I've been an anarchist (solidarity!) since the early 80's and have no desire to work with the cops or the State in any way, nor would I want them intimidating anyone else I know.

"Elite" also changed from meaning you had access to other pirate groups in other areas to meaning you had certain friends and contacts in specific groups. It also became an excuse to act superior to people in some weird way. It didn't matter, those who were determined and talented found ways into the scene.

At the same time the groups were far better by the late 80's and early 90's. The software wasn't as good but the people were excellent. Everyone had a specific job in which they excelled. I think of my pals in Arcade with A-Man on music, Crisp, Bacco, Jihad and Rockstar for coding and cracking, Twilight, HOK, Radar and so on for trading, coding, cracking... I didn't mention TBB, Hellfire, Tyree, Thor and so on.

And did anyone ever make better intros than Jihad? Probably so but he was very talented! I can hear him now saying "Aw, Dave, thanks for the flowers!"

Still, all these guys came from earlier groups which were very good and as software dwindled the talented folks seemed to gather into fewer and more elite groups. The work these groups did on their intros and so on directly led, in my opinion, to the demo scene. I have a lot of respect for the demo scene and part of that is because I understand it's history and it brings me back to the days when the scene was vibrant and fun. It's all about bragging rights and we're all impressed by a good demo, not pissed off that someone has one-upped us with their talent.

Just some thoughts because I often hear about how the scene was so split and how the groups were so hateful and hostile toward each other. It wasn't always like that and I remember those days very fondly!

aka "Pol Pot" or "The Dak"
Holiday Inn, Cambodia BBS 1984-1996
Armaggeddon WHQ
Arcade WHQ
Alpha Flight 1970 WHQ
Domination Magazine WHQ