Palle / Alf in 1853, Unit 5
Added on April 10th, 2004 (7959 views)

Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Fredrik. I live in Linköping, Sweden, but just as many of the other core Unit 5'ers, I have my roots in/or around the small town Degdala near Mjölby, Sweden. I'm currently studying (I got a late start :-)) Computer Science at the Linköping University (LIU/LITH), but I have been working the past ten years or so as a software developer/consultant in Sweden and abroad. My main interest beside computers and technology is scuba diving.

What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
Palle, Sir Alec's mum used to call me that for some reason, so I used that as my handle.

What group(s) were you in?
Before Unit 5 came alive (No. 5 is alive – Need input! ;)), me, Sir Alex, Nexu, Mr. Zak and Fizzy were in a group called Alf (in 1853). Those were our newbie days! Mr. Zak was in contact with Dae but I believe he was doing things solo at that time. We put out a couple of co-op demos with him during that period and I remember that in one of them we had a part with three 8*8 character scrolls that were synchronized with each other and could virtually go in any speed. We used these scrollers to present a dialogue between me, Dae and Mr. Zak. It looked quite nice!

In late 1988, Nexu was approached by someone (Mr. Weber?) who asked if Alf would be interested in forming a bigger demo group – and we were! This resulted in five groups joining forces and so Unit 5 was born. Just a month or two later, Unit 5 started to fall apart and I believe it was the Gothenburg guys who bailed out first. I don't blame them! I believe that many of them felt that they lost their freedom, and just the fact that we were 30-40 people involved in the same group made it very difficult to hold everything together. A few months later, Unit 5 more or less consisted of the same people that used to be in Alf. At this point, Unit 5 had already achieved some kind of scene status and instead of changing back to Alf, we just kept making demos under the Unit 5 name. Later on Dae, Lelle and David (from Padua) joined forces with us.

What roles have you fulfilled?
I was mainly a coder. I loved experimenting with music though (and still do), but most of it sounded like horseshit!

How long were you active for?
From 1987 to 1991/92.

Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
I played bass guitar in the same band as Fader Konoung and he knew Sir Alec. Fader Konoung and Sir Alec produced the world famous Everything Has an End, but the Sausage Has Two demo and I was very curious about how that was done, so Fader Konoung introduced me to Sir Alec. From there on, me and Sir Alec joined forces and started to fibble around with computers and software. I remember that one of the first things we ever did was to dissect a demo to see how a scroller worked.

Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
I (and all the rest of the group) was in school back then so of course all homework was neglected. ;) As soon as I got home from school I used to play around with my computer until dinner time, and then after dinner I was likely to go to Nexu's place and continue hacking there. During the summer holiday, we used to bring our computers to Nexu's garage and sit there programming, fooling around and in general having fun from early morning 'till late at night. Those were the days...

Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Not really, in the later years I wrote some Basic applications to calculate vector points. It wasn't until I learned C and started to program my Amiga that I got into application development.

When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
The first part I did for Reality 1 was based on a very simple idea, but it worked. It had a DYPP-scroll in the center of the screen and in the border, with an animated spinning logo above and below it. The reason that I'm so proud of it is because it required a lot of hard work but also because it was something that no one had ever done before (I think). It was new technology in a nice package, and because of this, it was different from many other demos that presented new technology. I believe we spent three months or so on that one part.

Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I always liked the Super Swap Sweden/Horizon guys simply because they understood what nice packaging meant and they had the skill to put something cool into that package. Jeroen Tel and JCH are also heroes of mine. I'm not sure they ever were a part of the scene, but they made the best music.

What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
Tough question! Fairlight and Triad did lots of cool stuff. Science 451 and Super Swap Sweden/Horizon too. I remember that one of the last productions I saw from Horizon included a calculated filled vector with multiple colours. Really nice! You need to know your linear algebra to do that kind of stuff!

Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Yes, but only two of them. The first one was the Horizon and Equinoxe party in Eskilstuna and the second one was the Horizon party in Vårby. During this party we got into a little conflict with Zone 45 (Hej Matriset!) and it was because they submitted a demo for the demo-competition in our name, and of course it was something that looked like total crap. But we got our revenge! When we released Reality 1, we added a part with a blank screen and some samplings that said: "Zone 45 – (shotgun sounds (stolen from Persian Inferno)) – ex-Zone 45". Perhaps it was a childish way to get back at them, but hey, we weren't that old back then. Zone 45 then trashed my Reality 1 DYPP-part and re-released it! Suckers!

In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
There must be as many answers to that question as there's sceners, but in my honest opinion, the scene was about achieving a sort of fame. Most of us were teenagers back then, and when you're a teenager you want to belong somewhere and you want to be accepted. Many of us didn't belong to the cool bunch in school (the ones who were choosen first for the soccer team etc.) and therefore we tried to find a place where we could fit in and where we could show off our skills (that didn't involve running after a football :-)). It turned out that the scene was an excellent place for this.

What were the particular highlights for you?
Difficult to say, there were many, and my memory is vague! But I believe I must mention a Fairlight demo and it was the first time I ever saw vector graphics. It made me curious of how it was done. A personal highlight was the last part of Unit 5's Orgasm demo. It was a very simple part with a side-border scroll and the music from Flight Path 747. It really touched the emotional side of me for some reason.

Any cool stories to share with us?
Uhh, there are so many. We were teenagers and teenagers do stupid things when being left alone at night. ;) During the party in Eskilstuna, I got to know a couple of Psycho Candy people (ex-Unit 5'ers), so I spent quite some time with them in their room. All of a sudden, when me and one of guys were talking, the 1541 drive that belonged to the guy next to us caught fire. You should have seen his face! True misery. During the Vårby party I got to know a guy from Berlin and we started swapping. When the Berlin wall fell, he sent me a piece of it that he had carved out himself. I still have it somewhere...

Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Apart from some of the old U5'ers – no! However, it turned out that some of the old C64 sceners worked at the same company as I did, so we've shared some memories.

When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got my first (and only) C64 in 1986. I kept it until 1993 (or was it 1994?) and then sold it to my father-in-law.

Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
No, not from a hardware point of view. What made the C64 special was really the price and packaging. The price allowed more or less everyone to buy a C64 and that started the computer revolution.

When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Probably never. ;( Me and a mate plan to go to Dreamhack and release a PC demo, but we'll see.

Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
We all helped make the computer industry what it is today. Without us, our attitude and skills, computers and software would not be what they are today. Let's head for the next frontier!

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