Autoboy / Hack'n Trade
Added on February 5th, 2004 (7909 views)

Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Mats Andrén and I'm 24 years old. Most of my life I lived in a city called Växjö in southern Sweden, but I moved to Stockholm for a while and later on Linköping which is where I live now. I'm a university student and my interests are to be found somewhere in the intersection of different scientific fields like the philosophy of mind, cultural psychology, evolution, artificial intelligence, linguistics, coding, philosophy of biology, neuropsychology and so on. I love learning new things and I read a lot of books, when not sitting in front of one of my computers, that is.

What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
After passing by some handles like Mad Mats and Frantic, I finally settled with Autoboy as late as in 2001. I guess I was inspired by the 1980's TV-series titled Automan. This choice of handle was a bit strange because it turned out that another member of Hack'n Trade (the group I'm a member of) once called himself Autoboy too. But because nobody really cared and because I wasn't in the mood to change my handle once again, I just kept calling myself Autoboy. Maybe I'll change it back to Frantic again some day just for the hell of it. (Actually, I did, right now.)

What group(s) were you in?
I've only been in one group ever, and I'll stay there forever too. This group is Hack'n Trade. A not-so-famous group (apart from Goto80 that has become quite well known in the scene) from Sweden where everyone knows each other well. It's nothing like some other groups that seems to exist rather impersonally over the Internet these days. Nothing really wrong with that I guess, but it would feel strange for me personally to join a group with people that I did not actually know well.

What roles have you fulfilled?
Coder, musician and party organizer.

How long were you active for?
It depends. I joined HT as late as 1996 and I guess that's the moment when I actually started to move into the scene, rather than just lurking around in the dark shadows just outside of it. But I've had a C64 since I was seven years old you know. Some may say that the scene didn't really exist in 1996 and I guess they are right, in some sense. However, I still consider myself active. Perhaps more now than ever.

Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
Well, I had just recently bought myself my first PC computer but felt that the culture surrounding this machine really sucked. I got a renewed interest in my older machinery like the C64 and the Amiga and somehow this made me get in touch with other guys than the normal local Växjö people that I had always been in contact with before. Most notably a guy in Varberg named Anders Carlsson (Goto80/HT) because he was supposed to send me a disk with JCH's music editor and since then I've learned to know the other fellows in HT very well.

Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
I was spending all my time with turbo tapes and the good ol' Tac-2. In the 1990's I started to do creative things.

Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
I have made a whole bunch of small tools to help me when I'm coding. That's an essential part of coding on C64 I guess. However, at this very moment I am in the middle of my biggest C64 project ever, and it's a tool that's never been done on the C64 before. I won't say more about it now because I'd like it to be some kind of news the day I release it (which I hope will be at Floppy 2004).

When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
Nothing I guess since I really wasn't in the scene at all "back then". However, I guess I'm a bit proud of arranging the Little Computer People C64 party series ( all by myself. I feel that they have in fact contributed quite a lot to the situation of the Swedish scene today, and that feels good. Apart from this, I'm not very sentimental about things, and I prefer to think that I will always do better and cooler things in the future.

Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
Mr. Z, I guess, because his devoted work actually affected me.

What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
Cracking. If it hadn't been for cracking, the scene would not have had the same atmosphere of being an illegal secret ninja movement that only very special agents were allowed to be part of. Of course, the C64 wasn't the platform that cracking was actually invented on, but it was for sure the platform where it became a movement.

Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Not really.

In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
It was clearly not just about one thing. Not even two.

What were the particular highlights for you?

Any cool stories to share with us?
I kind of liked when member X of HT managed to sneak into a car where Skyhawk/Laxity was sleeping. Member X put a written note in Skyhawk's trousers without waking him up (the note said something silly like "Fucked by HT"). Just the kind of action you can expect when datamonkeys are involved. However, Skyhawk is a good guy, so I'm sure he was more confused than upset about it.

Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Yes, I am. A whole lot of them. Both old and new sceners. Arranging the LCP parties involves being in contact with lots of sceners.

When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got it in 1986 and it still works great. It's not the C64 that I actually use now though.

Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
I dunno. Was it? In any case, I think the culture and history surrounding it is a whole lot richer in almost every respect than the one surrounding the later Amiga models and PC computers.

When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
As stated earlier, I hope to get my tool ready for Floppy 2004. I any case, I work really hard on it. In fact, last week I coded so much that my short term memory started to play severe tricks on me. Also, did you ever dream one of those assembler dreams? That is, dreams that aren't even about sitting in front of a computer but "inside" the assembler. Moving blocks of code and transforming data, replacing a BCS instruction with BCC and so on. The kind of place you're visiting every time you code something.

Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Get a proper serial interface for your C64 and check out the old C64 BBSes which are starting to appear again (this time available through Telnet, rather than dialup).

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