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Triad And Me
by Jeff Smart

Ding Dong. Oh yes, I do remember the time when the bell rang. And not the police (well, that came later) but the postman it was. He brought in a new package, sent with priority express air mail from Sweden, containing a handful of disks with the latest games for your C64. And it had a big TRIAD written on it. Homework for school could not be more far away than... Well, let's say wireless motion controllers.

Those were the days, my friend.

Being asked if I was to put some things together for this issue of ATTITUDE marking the 25th birthday of TRIAD I thought to be on the right path it would be a great idea and so I spontaneously decided to come up with an experiment. A self induced hypnosis if you will. So to be in the correct mood of doing some C64 brain searching I thought I have to try to imitate at least some of the circumstances of the eighties. Ah, the eighties.

So I found some music tapes (The Smiths, New Order and Joy Division if you ask) I always listened to back then, I took out some old clothes I wore back then (a T-Shirt of The Smiths), I even moved back to my parents and stayed in the room I used to live in. But...

...My former room is now the sleeping room of my parents and boy, they wanted to have some rest at night. Didn't really want to watch. And my clothes from the eighties? Well apart from the shiny bright colours that would give you an immediate eye-cancer right now, let's just say I looked like some Arnold with a dwarf's costume. But most of all: the music tapes! Ah, the music tapes. The precious music tapes from back then... Well, they just wouldn't fit into an MP3-player. So I turned on to YouTube.

And that's when I started to think back. To the time. To our time. And in our time...

...There was no YouTube. There was no Facebook. There was no Google, no Amazon, no eBay, no e-mail, no downloading, no peer-to-peer. There was even no Internet. And yet we used to have our own social network, didn't we?

There was no MP3. There was no BluRay. There was even no CD. Transferring megabytes within a minute or just the naming of gigabytes were just pure science fiction and would have been clearly a case for Mulder and Scully. Besides there were no Mulder and Scully at that time.

And there were no mobile phones. And there was no color TV. Ah, alright, the dudes from Sweden were always very rich, they might have had color TV.

And last but not least: video gaming and this is what this is all about. Video gaming back then had absolutely nothing to do with 3D or HD, with Dolby Surround Sound or magic, magic: wireless motion controllers. And if a game had not a least two disks, well it was crap already. Video gaming was different. Competition Pro Micro is the first thing that comes to my mind. And Decathlon.

So I don't think it's exaggerated to say: 25 years later the world has totally changed.

But mentioning the likes of TRIAD always brings gooood memories to me. If you like you can join me heading to some day in July 1988 hoping that some DeLorean would bring you back. Me and some friends traveled all the way up to a lonely town in Denmark to a so-called Jewels / Danish Gold / Dominators / Upfront party. We were up to meeting some guys, sharing some stuff. To me, it was the one and only time I met the likes of Janitor and Mr. Pinge. TRIAD. There they were.

Thinking back over, thinking back of how it was back then... Well, TRIAD used to be just huge. Fast cracks and excellent quality. Dealer Quality Service was their motto back then if I remember correctly. And an intro which was so down to just was it was for. An intro.

I mean there was this Eaglesoft Inc., probably the only decent cracking group there ever was on C64 from the United States (that was before Strider moved over there). Then you had some English groups like Ikari, Fusion or Scouse Cracking Group. Some German ones like Dynamic Duo or Beastie Boys. And of course the Swedish ones. Strangely enough to me. Never got to know why it was that Swedish C64-owners who ruled more than almost anyone else. Anyway there was West Coast Crackers who later turned into FairLight. And there was TRIAD (please don't throw things at me for forgetting important groups, especially you at Hotline).

When me and my mates got into wider spread contacts (nobody could really crack games so it was just spreading stuff) we had previously joined some German group (German Spreading Service) who were about to split up. And me? Too stupid or too lazy to really handle programming, let alone cracking. But I did that "ILLEGAL" magazine, some fanzine printed on real paper (not on disk, not on the Internet! NO! REAL PAPER! so old school, isn't it?) which got well known around the scene. With our contacts in other countries and with us attending the Venlo meetings I decided to make it completely in English after all. That was some sort of ace card I had in hand (nobody could really crack games so it was just spreading stuff) when I told my mates at home: what about asking TRIAD if they let us join them? Just some idea that before we do something on our own or ask someone other we not ask the no. 1 at that time? Some basic idea that would perfectly fit when talking to girls (but that was for some more years to come at that time, OF COURSE).

Though my mates thought I was totally crazy (who am I to argue?) I wrote some letter to that Mr. Pinge. I got in contact with him a few months before that. And no joking now: a day before my 18th birthday he rang me up on the phone. That was a rare occasion as telephone conference were not that frequently established. Pinge said: well, yeah, we were talking a lot about it as we never had any members outside of Sweden but yes, from this moment on you are a member of TRIAD.

A couple of days later we went to a Venlo meeting. Bigmouths as we all were at that time we did some T-shirts and painted TRIAD on it. Word got already around before that meeting and well it was very nice. In the following months it was just like a dream as Pinge sent everything, every single cracked game TRIAD did to me with an express package (there were no downloads available at that time).

Unfortunately, things at TRIAD soon went downwards as Pinge stopped all his activities about the same time as Janitor stopped cracking games. At that time I couldn't really understand what was going on with them. But in the end they just found the right time to get out of this. I remember me and Janitor exchanging long letters at that time and one day I sent him a broken version of Epic's World Games which had three not-working events. Two days later I got it back fully working. With Trainers (cheats as you'd call it today). Brilliant ace that Janitor-dude.

For me I stayed at Triad for a couple of months after that. And soon it was all over anyway. But for those times it was really making a difference. The things that came up later and I didn't even know the other members from Germany, when they phone me up, well anyway.

But back to that July 1988 in Denmark. Janitor was sleeping and word got around he didn't want to be waken up. Except for Jeff Smart. Funnily enough. And hell yeah we only had a day. And things went all crazy back then. I can't remember who broke some car or whatever went wrong at that infamous party, but it was some very small place with a hell lot of people and a hell lot of people with a hell lot of Danish beer.

Would things have been different knowing that 23 years later on I'm still thinking about that day? Would things have been different knowing that this was the only time we all met? I don't know. You wouldn't think that far. It seems like a different world, a different life. Things would have been different maybe if anyone had the idea of establishing a social network on the computer. But there were was no Internet. Not to talk about wireless motion controllers.

JEFF SMART

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