Apache / Action 77,
Added on November 18th, 2003 (7781 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My full name is Markus Hartsmar, I am 29 (30 this year). Born September 17, 1973 in Malmö, Sweden. I still live in Malmö, working as a programmer (software, web, database) and also doing some design jobs. My main interests today are, besides the burning love for the old C64 and computing in general (that sounded quite geeky, didn't it!?), I collect and consume the green fairy... Absinthe. And I must not forget to mention, I am also the perfect family man, with a lovely girlfriend and a gorgeous daughter.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
Well, through time there's been quite a few, some so moronic they will never be mentioned again. Mainly there was two handles I used back in the late 80s and the start of the 90's. That was "Apache" and "Mark", and obviously, Mark still hangs around.
What group(s) were you in?
As most other sceners I was part of a lot of smaller groups before the "big breaks" came along. One of those was a group called Action 77. So, groups I've been a member of are Action 77, Asia, Mute 101, Zoom, Fairlight, Dynamix, Vogue Designs and Shame Designs.
What roles have you fulfilled?
My main task was as a coder. However the occasional graphics and swapping got in there as well.
How long were you active for?
Mainly between 1988 - 1992, and then there's been a few "gatherings" among the friends where we've done some small demos just for fun. We're planning a little get-together later this summer (2003), and hopefully something good will come out of that! Maybe a demo or two?
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
Well, as I mentioned before I was part of a small group, consisting of me, The Alleycat (Chique) and Richard (later a founder of Alcatec and then a member of FLT). The group was called Action 77. We got as far as to release a small four-five part demo named Hotwire. We released it at a Defiers party in Staffanstorp in May 1989. That was where I first met Yankee of Asia. I talked to him for a while, and a couple of days later he and Tronic called me up and wanted us to join Asia. Also, at that party I met two other guys whom I spoke to a bit, but didn't care too much about it at that time. It was two members of Vortex 42. In 1990, when Asia split up at the party in Furulund, I met the same two guys again. They were now members of Mute 101. It was 006 and Pain. So, me and Yankee joined Mute 101, and the saga continues.
I don't quite know what happened to Mute 101, but I guess it all became too big and got a little out of control with so many members. I guess we were about 15-17 members at one time, counting both the Amiga and the C64 section. Anyway, Mute 101 was a great time with lots of fun, and I made a whole lot of great friends at that time. Unfortunately I don't meet many of them now.
After Mute split up I joined Zoom. I had been swapping with Zmurph for quite a while, and he asked me if I wanted to join. Hell, why not? Then as always, Zoom too split up, I think. At least, I left Zoom and figured I'd take a break from all that for a while. That didn't last very long though, since Mitch came to me and asked if I wanted to join Dynamix with him. So, I did. We pretty much formed a small Swedish demo section of Dynamix. But since Dynamix was mostly about cracking games, we left that too after a while.
So we're now up in late 1990 - the beginning of 1991, and I did a short "guest-play" in Fairlight. After talking to Bacchus I joined as a coder. However not everyone was happy about it at the time, since me and Aaron wasn't exactly the best of friends then. Anyone remember the A.A.AA (All Against Aaron)?. Wonder who formed that?! Hmm... But that's all forgotten now. And to keep everything calm I left Fairlight after just a short while. I have since done some small things for them, and more will come.
I now formed a "project" of my own together with Genius (ex Pain), called Vogue Designs. We managed to get Mitch in on that one a little while, and also we got a couple of excellent artists connected to us, Fredrik Vial and Johannes from Humpty Dumpty Graphics. We did a few demos and attended a couple of parties. There's one party in special that I remember. In Landskrona, Sweden. It was held by Tristar/The Gang. We contributed to their C64 demo competition, which they changed the rules for all the time! I guess I could say I wasn't all happy that night. But, there was of course something to cheer everything up. Two small guys, yes - small as in short and under aged, formed a group they called Connection 4001. They where working on a demo. A "Mega Demo". They had huge plans for that one. They showed me three parts that they had done, all of them included the same scroller, a scroll routine taken from a Swedish computer magazine, a logo and nothing more. Just different colours. and then they gave me the good news, the demo should be of 64 parts!! What? 64 parts looking the same? Ahh...
Ok, back in line here. After a while we got back together with Chique who had been a member of Full Force for a while now, and we formed the group we're still keeping alive, Shame Designs. I guess we're up at 1992 now. We did one last thing under the name of Asia in 1991, actually. We were sitting at Genius' place having a couple of drinks, fooling around with the C64, just playing around doing some parts. Then we heard that someone was having a small copy-party just a couple of blocks away, and we had to go there! We got there and the place was packed with lamers. And they of course invited us to a demo competition! Fair enough. We went back to Genius' place and produced a nifty little demo, consisting of five parts, I think. Some new and some old that we hadn't yet released. Did we win? Yes.
That is pretty much it. Somewhere in there in the middle are all the small sidesteps that has been made. Me and Mitch had a few small projects of our own, as did I, all solo - producing small good-to-have utilities. Now, we're getting old, bragging about old times, remembering the good times dreaming away.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
At that time one wasn't very old, so, apart from the constant nagging from parents wanting you to spend more time in the sun and all that, I'd have to say that there weren't many days but a lot of nights in front of the computer. Mostly I'd be sitting there coding with one of my friends behind me, bothering me and wondering when everything would be ready. I always had tons of ideas for demo parts and I got Chique and Crusader (at that time in Shame Designs, previously in Defcon 1) to produce a whole lot of graphics, I made Mitch compose music and then... nothing. That's why we now have somewhere around 15-20, maybe more, unused demo parts that never made it into the public.
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
Well, Vogue Designs did a "world's first", it was invented by Genius. People had been doing all kinds of stuff with abbreviations so long you couldn't remember them, and things that filled the screen, so you couldn't see it anyway. That's why we came up with T.U.S.E. - The Totally Useless Scroll Equalizer! T.U.S.E. is simply an indicator that in some fancy way shows what the next character on screen is, from a scroll text. Hard to explain, and totally useless. Apart from that I did a couple of utilities. Some I did for Mitch & Dane in order to "protect" their songs/sounds from getting ripped, etc. I also did a couple of graphic editors specially for Chique, so everything worked the way he wanted it.
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I guess, there's no "one thing in particular" I am especially proud of. But there's one big thing in general. At a certain point, many people just tried to break records, and they forgot everything about design, good layout and things like that. I cared more about the appearance of the demo than putting gazillions of things in it. I wanted things to look good. After all, who cares about 400 DYCP scrollers that you can't read!? But OK, every time I managed to pull off exactly what was in my head, for a demo part, I was thrilled! The first time I did a vector cube, plasmas and so on, it felt like breaking new barriers each time, even though others had done it before. And it is still exactly the same, each time some problem is tackled, the ego's on acid.
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
I guess the biggest heroes were Strider and Black Shadow of Fairlight. Even though they weren't any demo producers en masse, they were and are, legends! Then there were other people who were brilliant programmers and so on, but never got close to those guys. And now, now we all got steady jobs and drink beer together from time to time! :o)
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
Must say that FLI sure as hell revolutionized the scene! That was an instant hit, and then came all them flickering iFLI and all that. Besides that, I must say that thinking of what you were "supposed" to be able to do with the C64, and all the things that have actually been done, most things are pretty damn impressive! But up there on top reigns Black Mail. Those guys knew good design and did excellent coding!
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Yes, it happened. All the big things in my "scene-life" happened at parties, so they meant quite a lot.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Having shit loads of fun (and beer)... And then of course, you must never forget the endless wars between groups! He he! But all right, the scene was also about some more serious things as well, I mean, if it wasn't for the C64 scene that I was part of, I wouldn't be where I am today. So, I guess it was actually quite an educational time too, but a whole lot more fun than school! Well, we had lots of fun, and that was what was most important, I guess.
What were the particular highlights for you?
It was always a highlight to see something coming from Black Mail for instance. Otherwise, it was actually quite a highlight to release something of your own as well. Knowing other people would get it, see it and hopefully like it.
Any cool stories to share with us?
Well, this might count for something, I stole a girlfriend once, from 006/Mute 101 and the girlfriend was actually Kaktus little sister! :D Now there's education for you right there, how to mix business and pleasure! (I guess both Kaktus, his sister Karin and 006 will hunt me down now.) I think the best story other than that must be the time we trashed a small party hosted by some kids, a group called ECO (Elite Cracking Organisation!!!). They invited us because they wanted some "big names" at their little "party". They shouldn't have done that! Ha ha... We totally wrecked the place. But they were insured. I think. That was how Mute 101 got the reputation of being *the* party wreckers. Funny thing is, we got even more invitations after that.
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got my first one in 1985. The brown one, with a cassette recorder and two Slik-Stik joysticks. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Me and my father was in the store to buy it. The price? I think we paid a total of like $700 or so! And then a short while later I just had to have a floppy-drive! After that, along the years, I got several more. I have three of them left, and I use them all, every now and then. The last one I got, I got from exchanging a Big Mac for a C64! Ha ha.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Yes it was. It's 20 years old, and it still works! I don't even remember what my first PC looked like, but this one! Never let go! It's a piece of history, and I'd like to say, we've all been parts in writing that history. Bit by bit.
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Soon, actually. We're collecting all them old parts that were never released, and plan to release them all as a huuuuge demo. You shouldn't expect any Glenz-Border-Vector-Bob-DYPPs or anything, but we'll let you all know.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
I guess I could go on and on with names here, but here's a few of the more important ones: Some hellos must be sent out to; Genius, Chique, Richard, Aaron, Black Shadow, Bacchus and Zmurph. Of course, Tron and Sledge of M101 must have their share of my gratitude for old times as well. Then I would like to say hi and thanks for everything to all my old contacts! And I hope that no one will feel left out now. I mean, I only have 64K of memory! But of course, I must thank you guys for doing this, taking all the time needed to pull this together.
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