Probe / Cicen,
Added on March 20th, 2006 (6954 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Rahel Azad and I was born in 1974 in southern Kurdistan. We moved to Stockholm, Sweden in 1982 where I still live. I work as an Oracle DBA consultant. When I'm not at work, I like driving fast, especially on track days with my Lotus Elise. During the winter season I drive/practise on the computer.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
Acty and P.Jay for a short period, then Probe until today. Actually, I sat down at home with a dictionary and wrote down any word that looked good from A to Z. I wrote down about ten names on a piece of paper and then picked the one that looked and sounded best. Weird, I know.
What group(s) were you in?
I was first a member of Cicen, then Royalty which disbanded and most of the members joined Ruthless. At that time, I was in good contact with Jedi of Triumph who had a BBS and also had lot of overseas contacts. We decided to start Triumph again. Jedi unfortunately decided to emigrate to the US for work a couple of months later. A few friends started Omega, and they needed a cracker. I got an original from them, cracked and released it (for Omega) and then joined Ruthless. When Ruthless disbanded, most of the Swedish members joined Triad. The Dutch musicians in the group left the C64 for 'real' music projects. The other ones, including myself, joined Hitmen. At that time, the closest C64 friends I had were the guys in Antic, and I felt a bit alone in Hitmen being the only Swede. I left Hitmen for Antic and later on also joined the C64 section of Dual Crew & Shining.
What roles have you fulfilled?
I was mainly a cracker. I found it amusing to try to have less files and smaller cracks than everybody else, and also uploading the cracks to the BBS's as fast as possible. Everything in life is a competition for me and it was easier to compare cracks than code. I also did some swapping to get originals and demos. The two fastest and best suppliers I had were RCS/Bonzai and Kazar/Dunex. I also did some coding and graphics at times when I got tired of waiting for sprites and fonts from the artists. I also did some phreaking/carding but quit when K12 got busted.
How long were you active for?
I got my first Commodore in 1986, and in 1993 I accidentally killed my C64 when trying to repair the PAL/NTSC switch on it. I had no money to buy a new C64 and so I concentrated on school instead. I bought a new C64 a couple of years later, and I still feel active in a way. The C64 never dies!
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
I got my 128D in 1986 but none of my classmates had a disk drive so I had to buy a cassette deck to be able to get games. I got bored of that after a while! I also, as almost every C64 owner, typed in the BASIC programs found in the manual.
I got in contact with Slaine/The Rebels who was one of the nicest guys ever. He answered all my questions about machine language, and later on his neighbour Tron (later Core) helped me out too. I found some book about coding and tried to learn as much as possible. My classmates were still playing games, and when I started cracking games, I gave them the POKE-cheats to type in and also sent the cheats to the Swedish C64 mag Datormagazin. Even if it became much easier coding in Turbo Assembler, I always hated documenting and wanted the code to be as compact and short as possible. I regret that now when I look through unfinished demoparts and code on my old disks.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Since elementary school was close to where I lived, I used to be at home during lunchbreaks to show my friends the latest demos. After school, I went to training. At 6 pm I was home again, had dinner in front of the computer, played and cracked games, and I was also BBSing. Before going to sleep, I started crunching a crack, woke up in the middle of the night, crunched the next crack, woke up, uploaded the cracks, and then went off to school. During the weekend, I only left the computer if I visited some friend – to sit in front of his computer. Today, not much have changed, I still spend lots of time in front of the computer.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Not really, but I had buttons for everything on my C64; reset, freeze, PAL/NTSC, SID-potentiometer, etc. I liked pimpin' my C64.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
Since all my time awake – and asleep – was occupied by the C64, I am still shocked I managed school without ever opening a schoolbook.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
Without doubt Mr. Z. My first game ever was cracked by Mr. Z, and he was and still is a bit of mystery to me. I would really like to meet him. Apart from Mr. Z, there were some coders that were amazing like Kjer/HZ and Maduplec/Nato.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
The real time 3D rendering stuff that Kjer coded in the Horizon demos combined with the funky way they moved. I also have to mention JCHs NewPlayer with which C64 musicians could make the wildest, craziest and most awesome music with. Not releasing it to public, JCH made it even more mysterious.
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Yes, and I liked the HZ-parties most with the BMX-Ninja-Snake-Kung-Fu-organizers that they were
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Having fun, making friends and breaking boundaries. It was like a mini-civilization with groups, competitions, showing who's the better coder, cracker, etc.
What were the particular highlights for you?
The parties where I met all friends and contacts. Watching the Censor guys go berserk at every party always gave me a good laugh. The energetic coding at the parties to finish the demoparts before deadline. I still don't understand why nobody finished their code at home.
Any cool stories to share with us?
Well, not really, but I still remember this crazy thing during a meeting at I-Mans place in Sala, in July 1990, with some Royalty guys and an annoying young kid called Stanze of Mute 101. We were not sitting in front of our computers one single minute. Instead we were running around their neighbourhood with his parents telephone and jacking in to the other houses phones, waited for them to finish their phone calls, and then called contacts in Australia and talked for hours. When the family picked up the phone and started yelling, we unjacked and went on to the next house. Since Stanze was the smallest kid of us all, he had to do the climbing whenever needed to. It was a crazy weekend!
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
Now and then I meet or speak to Danko, and I found you (Morpheus) again. But no other people really. I would like to get in touch with the guys from the old days though.
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got a 128D in 1986, but I sold it and bought a C64 one year later. I've owned quite a few C64's during the years, and I still have two C64's and one SX-64. The SX-64 was a big relief as you only had to bring one piece containing computer, TV and disk drive. Still, not as light and small as a laptop, but much cooler.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
It certainly was. It changed the life of a whole generation kids that learned to program in early age, and had use of it later in life. And whoever I talk to who was part of the scene or owned a C64 during that time, agrees that the C64 was something special and that it will never be forgotten.
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
I'm sorry to say that I don't think the chance of that happening is that big – if I don't get a lot of free time when I get older that is. I will never get rid of my C64's. It feels strange that people still are producing stuff on the C64.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
I'd love to get in touch with you guys from the past! Mail me at email@example.com, and let me know if there's a party, meeting or whatever.
back to the list of available interviews