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History Of The C64 Scene In Peru
by Mr.Byte/Twin Eagles Group

Peru has always suffered the problem of the centralization: main business, cultural and technological activity concentrates on Lima, the capital city. Of the 27 million inhabitants, 8 millions live in there. But it is the main reason which allows users to have a direct communication among them. The capital city is like a great computer neighbourhood.

At the beginning of 80's Atari, Spectrum and Commodore 64 were the most popular computers in my country. The C64 had a bigger welcome and users quickly established points of meetings to exchange software (stores like Sears, Gazelle and Computer 2001). There were probably less than 1000 users and not all of them had new software to exchange, so they had to buy it. Sellers of illegal software (pirates) quickly became very well-known in the capital and in the newspaper "El Comercio" every Sunday you could read up to 50 announcements like "New C64 programs for sale, call me." There weren't coding groups neither warez importers, even worse as almost nobody knew what "warez" meant. So you can wonder how they got new programs?

Games were brought from time to time by people that travelled to USA, Argentina or Chile. In one month there were about 10 new titles and most of them copied from originals with Copy-Q. I remember when in 1987 people in Sears tried to copy an original of Infiltrator and nobody could understood why it hadn't worked. Very few games had a cracker's intro, nobody knew what was a demo neither knew about the existence of the European scene. Users just typed LOAD and RUN to start playing. But please do not misunderstand me, not everything was so lame here in Peru. There were about 10 BBS running 24 hours at day (almost all on C64 and programmed in Basic/6510 by the same sysops), many user meetings, some schools taught computer sciences using C64, in the bookstores you could buy Data Becker books in Spanish and magazines like Gazette Compute and Input, there were Peruvian magazines that explained how to program bulletin boards and small games for C64, Atari, Apple and MS-DOS, and we even hacked to connect to QSD France with our C64 (may be some of you remember Playgirl?). There was a strong BBS telecommunity but not a C64 scene as we understood it. This situation prolonged until the end of 80's.

Meanwhile I was living in Italy up to 1986. That year I returned to Peru and in a fair I met the guy known as TMB. I began to exchange the new software I got with him. Soon I discovered that the pirates sellers were frozing the games with Final Cartridge to rip crackers intro and I even learnt that the guy known as SATAN made in 6510 a copy-protection scheme and lent a "re-protection service" to pirates sellers. What he did was to protect warez, so they could exclusively sell more copies by using custom parameters. Because there weren't crackers neither importers they made lot of money with this monopoly. So while in Europe you guys investigated and coded, here in Peru your warez were re-protected to sell, I felt shame for this and one day I decided to try change things.

In 1989 I formed Twin Eagles Group (TEG), with Overmind (spreader), Easy Rider (spreader), TMB (cracker) and me (Mr.Byte, leader and coder). At the beginning we had many problems because users didn't understand what did a "coding group" mean and they thought that we were just another swappers or sellers of pirate software. But all changed when we released our first cracked game, Operation Wolf. The news ran for all sides. Then we made trainers, PAL/NTSC fixings (thanks to my first C64 I brought from Italy) and also some demos. Soon users realized that we didn't only imported warez from Europe or USA, we also produced things! All the stuff we released had an intro of our group so they began to read our Spanish text-scrolls to find out local gossips and greetings. What we wanted was to promote a C64 coding community, but how we could achieve it if the only ones that knew about intro or demo coding were we ourselves? How we could motivate users to code at least a bit?

Mistress Byte, our graphician, had a brilliant idea. She suggested that TEG should publish a diskmag with local news, later with other Latin scenes news and finally with English translation so it could be spreaded in Europe. In 1991 we released the first issue of SMILING PANDA (SP), it was first one in Latin America (and I believe that it was the first one in whole America because it was released before Headlines in USA). It was really cool. Many user began to hate us but we were happy for that. Let me explain why. In SP, besides writing local news, we also criticized every seller of pirate software and they felt impotent for not being able to reply us in the same way because they didn't know anything about coding. That is how some of them felt forced to learn to code at least little notes and intros to spread their replies, and those without skills at least published fanzines made in GEOS. Suddenly everybody looked for these replies and copied them to find out what happened every week. There was no doubt, a small C64 scene now existed. In December 1991 our group organized the first copy party in the history of Peru, 60 users attended and lasted 48 hours.

Who were the most know characters? Well, there was just one coding group (TEG), several independent little coders and a 14 year-old boy known as HAWKINS that called all the dawns to ask me to teach him 6510 coding. I did it and he learned quick. With his friend DAXAM, Hawkins formed THE TIGER FORCE (TTF). Now it was more amusing, there was two coding groups competing. KURT (brother of Daxam) didn't want to join TTF and he continued importing warez from Germany. OMEGA was a seller of software that learned 6510 and joined TEG as coder. DELTA and MINOTAURO were sellers too, but later joined TEG as graphicians. RAMBO GAMES was the most known seller because of his infamous "protected warez" and was our enemy number one. SATAN cracked original games and re-protected them for Rambo Games. DATA also protected games for Rambo Games. RCAL (Rocky, Clemente, A-Key, Lionheart) was a warez importer/seller group that published a fanzine, Commodore Mania. SPUNK! was a member of TEG and he is remembered as the first one who began messing with rasterbars. GATO ("Cat", Jorge Polar) was a hardware-wizard that joined TEG and built a network of eight C64 for our new TEG BBS. WUNDER and GERMAN gave technical service and they sold warez too, they were good friends of almost everybody. Many others like Cobra System, Commando Games, CG Games, D-Soft, Mandujano, etc. were warez or hardware sellers and contributed to make the whole scene more amusing (releases were quickly spreaded by them).

THE DEATH OF THE SCENE

At the end of 1993 users became idiots. They stopped coding and sold their C64 to buy a SNES or PC to play Street Fighter 2 or Doom. Was like a plague that invaded the whole community and till the beginning of 1994 the C64 Peruvian scene was already dead. All TEG members went away too and I was alone. Even worse, the spirit of investigation and programming got lost with the new PC generation that just thought only of playing.

WHAT ARE WE DOING NOW?

DAXAM/TTF moved to USA in 1997 to continue his university career and KURT went to Switzerland. HAWKINS/TTF truely loved his C64 but when the scene died he left computers and now works as barman in a local of Mr.Frogs in Lima. SATAN today is owner of a company in Lima that sells PowerMAC. DATA now works for an important fuel supplier firm. RAMBO GAMES continues with his small business of renting XBox, PSX2 and SNES consoles (it began 14 years ago selling NES). MINOTAURO/TEG moved to USA, nobody knows what he is doing. TMB/TEG was working in a bank during several years, but now with his PC he's downloading roms and emulators. GATO/TEG disappeared in 1994 and I had never had more news about him. OMEGA/TEG was seen last time in TEG Frontline Amiga Party 4 (1993). SPUNK!/TEG works since several years in a bank. CAMILOT WARRIOR/TEG (graphician) is owner of a local cable and TV station in Andahuaylas, Peru. Wunder and German now repairs and sells PC's (of course they miss to fix C64 and 1541 drives). COBRA SYSTEM owns an Internet cybercafe in Lima. And me, MR.BYTE/TEG, published my first videogame for Amiga (Gunbee F-99), worked as sprites animator for SuperNES games and now I program classic videogames in PC, but in last two years things are going bad and probably I'll have to quit.

LAST WORDS

The C64 scene in Peru was small but very amusing, I am sure that if it would begun one or two years before some users would have been more committed with their projects and they would surely have continued in other systems. Only three guys continued coding for consoles (Cesar, Alex and Jose Luis, they for example made the famous hacking of Sonic The Hedgehog for SNES), but today my group TEG is the only one programming and publishing videogames (now for PC). In the last two years we have programmed a beat'em up game (The King Of Peru 2), organized a Retro-Party for C64, Amiga, Atari and BBS users and we have recently released Samba De Oruga, a game with semi-naked photos of Orugaloca/TEG ("Orugaloca" means Crazy Caterpillar, she is our girl member). We made it as a memory of our group and to find funds to continue our activity since the Peruvian firm that published The King Of Peru 2 cheated us and we lost all our money (justice is slow, our sue began one year ago and it may take two more to end).

And here finishes the history of the C64 Peruvian scene and a quick overview on what we're doing today. Visit Twin Eagles Group homepage (www.tegperu.org) and if you want to support our group buying an original CD-Rom of Samba De Oruga or in another way, we would be very thankful.

Happy coding,
MR.BYTE/TEG.

* written by Lobsang Alvites Szaler (Mr.Byte/TEG)
* ended July 7, 2003 for "Attitude" magazine

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