Antitrack / The Softkiller Crew,
Fantastic 4 Cracking Group
Added on May 1st, 2004 (14301 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Alex and I'm 34 years old. I live in Graz (where I also was born) and I'm doing paperwork in a tiny office. My interests are many and it's mostly technical/scientific (chemistry, physics, maths) and philosophy oriented stuff.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
I've actually only used Antitrack as a handle. I was inspiried by other handles from 1982 starting with "Anti-" and something technical, i.e. Antiram, Antirom and Antiprotect.
What group(s) were you in?
The Softkiller Crew, Cosmos, 711, Legend and F4CG on the C64; Energy on Amiga; none on the PC yet.
What roles have you fulfilled?
I was mainly a cracker but I also swapped and coded a bit (mainly own tools).
How long were you active for?
My most active years were between 1985 (pre-TSK) and 1993.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
Well, first I copied some originals from local lamers from school and stuff like that. I then noticed that I only could copy them with a Nibblecopy. In fall 1985, I sat down with the Assembler book and tried to figure out what happened to the original file in order to get it cracked. After a month, I had found the information I was looking for – and I felt pretty happy about it – so I copied every original I could get from local dudes and cracked it. Later a friend told me to call Copyright Hunter (CHC), who was cracking for TSK. I met CHC and showed him some of my own side-border routines. He was impressed. Thus CHC and me visited The Softkiller, who was the boss of TSK, and we cracked some originals together. We all mutually agreed that it would be a good idea for me to join their crew. The rest, as they say, is history. :-)
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Hmmm… (ca 1985) 7 AM – go to school. 13:30 – eat lunch. 14:30 – do homework. 17:00-22:00 – crack, code, play games, get phonecalls etc.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
I think I re-discovered some things that were surely invented by other dudes but not being used for special cracking purposes. First, I always woozled through not only the protection, but usually the whole game, which I also played all the way though just to make sure it worked properly. Exceptions were a few adventure games which would have taken way too long to play. Much later, I invented “drive-scanning" for fast IFFL routines, which is standard now. I also discovered how to improve crunching speed for Darksqueezer quite a lot. I also coded lots of tools, for example I disassembled the SMON and inserted REU support code.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I like most of my cracks which included the former super-hard protected Paperback Writer, Timex v2 and Timex v3. My self-improved Darksqueezer with REU is my all-time favourite crunch tool. Also, my SMON and my version of Turbo Assembler kicks ass!
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
No doubt Mr. Zeropage was among the best. He also cracked super-hard protected games on the Amiga like Dragon's Lair. Other crackers like TCS, Janitor of Triad and Unknow of Transcom were pretty good too. There were also many clever demo coders (1001 Crew and their side-border sprites, Mr. Cursor and his Timex), tool coders (Darkforce) and even copy protection coders/inventers (Harald Seeley and his V-Max NTSC). Most of all though, there were lots of good composers like Johannes Bjerregaard, JCH, Drax, Jeroen Tel, Reyn Ouwehand etc. etc. etc.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
There are many things to choose from, but 1001 Crew's opening of the side-border was amazing!
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Hell yes! I went to the Venlo meetings several times, the Ikari/Zargon party, the Light/Phenomena party, a couple of Radwar parties, one meeting in London and several other smaller and quite enjoyable meetings.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
It was about having fun and exploring technology in an almost irrepressive creative way, much in stark contrast to the passive, death-like sleeping pill called "passive consumerism" that has, otherwise, largely taken over the world. Which is all too sad.
What were the particular highlights for you?
The Venlo meeting in December 1988 (not sure about the year) that also was mentioned in Illegal. It featured a TV-show with a copy protection debate in Cologne, and shortly after, there was the Radwar party. It was amazing and so well organized!
Any cool stories to share with us?
On the Light/Phenomena Easter party in 1992, I wanted to share my improved REU-Darksqueezer with the people there. I needed the large screen for five minutes to show my work to the people, but the lame organizers didn't give it to me despite the fact that there was plenty of time for it. I was a bit pissed but persisted on showing my cruncher around and especially to the Fairlight dudes. When the party was almost over, I removed the disk out of its envelope and deliberately left the naked envelope on a table. Later on I was told some FLT dudes had jumped on the disk quite madly. They then inserted it into a disk drive and noticed way too late that there was no disk in the envelope. That must have been fun to watch!
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
I'm on several mailing-lists, but I miss being in contact with my former group mates from TSK, Cosmos, 711 and Legend (well, Westbam gives me a call from time to time). I also miss my Austrian fellows like Big Ben, Zodiac, and even some local la... err... dudes. :-)
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got my C64 on Christmas 1982 but unfortunately this machine just recently died (on December 28th, 2003). It kills every new PLA chip after a few seconds – and I'm a very lousy hardware repairman. I guess I'll have bet on a C64 on eBay. Blargh!
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
As soon as someone gives me a repaired, socketed and working C64, I'll finish the crack of Legacy of the Ancients. :-) I'm well through most of the darned 22-block Pirateslayer Boot from Kris Hatlelid.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Yeah! Write more often! firstname.lastname@example.org is the e-mail address. You can also catch me in the usual IRC channels.
back to the list of available interviews