JoLo / 1701
Added on October 12th, 2004 (6451 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Jan Lundquist. I was born on September 1st, 1966 in Gothenburg, Sweden. I've been living in Gothenburg all my life, except for three years when I lived in Partille (just outside of Gothenburg). I have been working with computers since 1995 when I graduated from Komvux (school for adults) as a network technician. My interest in computers came from the time when I was supposed to go to school, but skipped school in favour of visiting different computer stores (hence the school for adults some years later). In one store they had just started to sell the new Commodore 64. I got stuck there!
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
My handle is JoLo or MacJoLo, sometimes with the prefix of 1701. My handle is actually my initials with an extra ‘o’ at the end. I first started using it as a call handle for my shortwave radio. Later when I needed a handle on some BBS or computer system, I used JoLo. The addition of Mac is not from the Apple Macintosh but from the hamburger MacFeast. I really liked those... As for 1701, me and some friends needed a name for ourselves as a group, and at the time the ROM cartridge Cup Final had just been released by someone called 1103. The numbers 1103 was on all the advertising banners around the field in the game and we were a bit impressed and wanted a name based on numbers too. In one computer store they sold a monitor for the C64 called Commodore 1701. That’s how we came up with the numbers. Later we found out about the Star Trek connection...
What group(s) were you in?
I was only a member in one group, 1701.
What roles have you fulfilled?
Copying and some coding.
How long were you active for?
Well, it must have been between 1984 and 1986. It was short but intense. I had my C64 a bit longer and later got a C128 but I didn't participate much in the copying and cracking.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
As I wrote above, I skipped school to go play with computers in computer stores. This was in late 1983. The C64 was brand new and very expensive. In the early summer of 1984, when they cut the price by a third, I bought mine. I got a job with a lousy pay (and a duration of up to six months) at the company that sold Commodore computers in Sweden. I was in heaven! Later that year, I bought the 1541 floppy drive with employee discount. I also got a lot of spare parts from there that they otherwise would have thrown away. Empty cartridges, EPROMS, software and things like that. I started swapping games and stuff with friends that I met at computer stores. Some of us lived not far away from each other, so we started a more organised way of swapping games.
I don't really know what we thought about the whole computer thing. Today we look at with nostalgia in our eyes (or is it tears?), and back then we just did what we thought was fun and thrilling. We read about people getting caught for selling copied games but we thought that if we didn't sell any games and just traded them, we wouldn't get caught. There was another reason for trading as well - we got more games for ourselves. We used to meet at each others home to copy a game or two, perhaps play some of them or watch a video. The programming and development was usually done separately, and if we got stuck, we called each other up and asked for advice.
For the most part, we just copied the games. We cracked some of them though, and I especially remember one game by Jeff Minter. It was called something like Llamas in space or Sheep in Space. In the game there was a scrolling message and it was a rather long one too (a K or two). In the text Jeff thanked his friends and wrote about his beloved Llamas. We just had to change the text to make it even more spaced out (Sorry Jeff). When we copied a game, we wanted it to show that it was we who copied it, and that's when we invented the "Copied by 1701" loading screen. It didn't do anything special, just load and run the game. Our trademark was a yellow screen with black characters and a green border.
I don't remember the names of the people we swapped with. Often it was just friends of friends and sometimes someone totally anonymous that we met outside some computer store. The computer stores were a great place to hang out in to look for other traders. I remember one guy, I think his name was Jerry. He had all his disks in a shoebox and he didn't even have the disk cases left. He drove an old SAAB, so he was a bit older than the rest of us. Later, he and a friend started a computer store and sold cheap 3.5" Amiga disks.
When we got modems for our computers, a whole new dimension opened up. I was a regular visitor to some early BBS'es in the Gothenburg area. I remember a few - ABAS, Forth dimension, Wettergrens BBS and Chrome. It was the Internet of that time, and I got really hooked. When I had my Amiga 500, I was introduced to a friend-to-be that worked at Chalmers (a University in Gothenburg). I started to hang around there and got an account to one of the computers, a VAX 11/750 running VMS. The computer was connected to others and formed a global net, Pre-Internet. We just called it 'the net' and it gave us unlimited access to everything (at least, that's what we thought).
We read Datormagazin of course.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Well, I went to my poorly paid work, fixed some broken RF modulators for the VIC20, went to the box where they threw away junk to check for good stuff. Had lunch, did a little more work, went home in the afternoon and called my friends to see if there was anything new. If there was, I went to their place or they came to mine. Sometimes we met up people outside the group to swap games with and then went home to see if they were any good. I coded or played until it was time to go to bed.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Not to make the copying easier. We did burn our own kernal EPROMs with modifications to them. I remember that someone found the reset-bug that corrupted some part of the memory when you pressed reset and corrected that in his kernal. I found a small machine-code routine that listed the directory of a floppy so I removed the cassette routines from my kernal to put the directory-lister there instead. I just pressed shift+run to display the directory. It worked great.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I wrote an auto-start routine that started before the program was fully loaded in to the memory. It was a part of our 1701 CD, where the CD stood for Cracking Disk. The disk had a lot of different copying and cracking programs on it.
Blagger Construction Kit was another hit (locally anyway). It was written in both Basic and Assembler. It enabled you to edit and make your own maps to the game Blagger from Alligata Software (when I searched the net for Blagger I found a new version of a Blagger Construction Kit written for Windows).
I also wrote a program that took a file and wrote it on a disk at user selected sectors. It was fun to place the program at sectors as far away from each other as possible. The drive made some awful noises seeking from one end to the other.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I actually can't remember anyone besides 1103 - and I don't even know who that was!
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
Once I saw sprites outside of the normal viewing area, in the borders. That was cool!
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Only local private ones in Gothenburg.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Copying and some cracking. The games weren’t that hard protected back then.
What were the particular highlights for you?
I don't remember any favourite event, perhaps the fair at Svenskamässan when they had computers and stuff.
Any cool stories to share with us?
I once "sold" a bunch of games for a McDonalds visit where I could eat as much as I wanted. I painted my C64 pink and my 1541 black with coloured stripes. Nowadays I have my own company called 1701 Enterprises. I always dreamed of having a company called something with 1701 in it.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Some, but no one that still has his/her C64 in working condition. I still meet one of the guys who paid for my McDonalds visit in the previous question.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I bought mine back in 1984, sold it in 1986 and got a C128 for a year or so. I bought back my old C64 but never used it much. Finally I gave it away but I don't remember when.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Yes! It was much easier to learn how to use a computer back then. You just turned it on and you had instant access to the whole computer. No fiddling with drivers for this or that, no operating system that crashed or needed hot-fixes. You had instant access with full control at the flick of a switch. I miss those "easy" days.
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Not likely. I don't even have an emulator installed.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Well, yeah. Do a Google search for MacJoLo, find my email address and send me an email. Perhaps we can swap memories instead of games. :-)
back to the list of available interviews