STE'86 / The Mean Team, Binary Code Smashers
Added on March 19th, 2004 (8370 views)

Tell us something about yourself.
Name: Steve Day. Age: 36. Birthplace: Wednesbury, West Midlands, England 12/06/67. Residence: Darlaston, West Midlands, England. Job: Advertising Graphic Designer and part time Lecturer in Graphic Design. Interests: Aviation History, Science Fiction, Archeaology, Computer Games (though less often).

What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
STE'86, which obviously came about because of my name, and the date which I began doing C64 artwork. In early '87 I changed the sig to read '87 but friends of mine asked me to retain the '86 as a personal signature because there were at the time several Steves doing pics and they wanted to be able to identify mine. In fact the only pic to ever have '87 on was The Hero is Back, but it was never released in this form.

What group(s) were you in?
Meanteam for demos, with occasional outings with Chris and Griffo of Binary Code Smashers for hacks.

What roles have you fulfilled?

How long were you active for?
From 1986 to 1990(ish).

Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
I got into the scene directly as a result of Chris Owen (of the Binary Code Smashers) who gave me Koala Painter which had been converted for joystick control. I was at Art College at the time and he basically said "have a go with this" and the rest, as they say, is history. My first ever pic was Strontium Dog, which has sadly been lost by me over the years due to disk deterioration. Our club president at the time was a lady called Mo Warden, who some of you may recognise as the graphic designer who worked on occasion with Jeff Minter and latterly with Paul Woakes on Damocles and Backlash.

Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
Ha, I seem to remember a typical day in the '80s began about lunchtime and finished about 4 am (sometimes during the winter you could go a couple of days without actually seeing daylight (the vampire shift)). Pulling 24 hours without sleep was quite common as was being extremely grouchy because of it. Usually in the evening I would go to Pete's (JCB) house and meet up with him and Claka. Also I have to mention that we used to hang out at a shop called Software City in Woverhampton where we used to buy most of our C64 software from.

Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
No special coding personally, but always coming up with hopefully new graphical effects.

When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
The Lethal Weapon pair of screens.

Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
As artists, Bob Stevenson, because his was the first stuff of quality I saw, and Paul Docherty (Dokk) because his stuff was always the most consistently polished of the artists I remember. At the end, SIT's greyscale portraits really blew me away. To be honest, I was always more inclined to collect music demos rather than artwork, so my demo disks tended to be full of stuff by Michael Winterberg, Chris Hülsbeck, Tim Follin and like. I used to like music which pushed for a different sound rather than the norm. Tho I have to say of them all I always found Martin Galway's stuff the most listenable, particularly the music he did based on actual tracks.

What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
Personally, I would have to say the Koala Pad. :)

Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
Tradeshows, yes, copy-parties no. But we went on a weekly pilgrimage to the Bloxwich Computer Club which housed the biggest den of piracy in the West Midlands, England region.

In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
Talent and enthusiasm. If I have to sound academic about it, I would compare it to the music industry in the UK in the 60's. Anyone who had the talent and the drive could do what they wanted to, with many small companies competing well with the large ones. Unfortunately it went the same way as the music industry with the larger companies buying out any threat to their profits, essentially stifling most creativity.

What were the particular highlights for you?
The highlight has got to be participation in Compunet. There will never be another time like that again, and the buzz that I got from seeing my stuff on display in the Art Hall of Fame (ARTH for those who remember the go tos :)) will stay with me forever.

Any cool stories to share with us?
Don't know about cool but I remember my first meeting with Jacco van T'Riet (hope I spelled that right), Jaws of the BWB and Hawkeye fame. On one of those computer shows, Claka came up to me and told me there was this huge blonde geezer asking about me and where I could be found. I thought: "Great! Who have I pissed off?". Then later I get a tap on the shoulder, I turn round and I'm face to chest with same huge blonde geezer, who proceeds to introduce himself and nearly tear my arm off shaking my hand. :) Turns out he had wanted to meet me since seeing my karate kid pic the previous year. If u read this Jacco, do you remember the multi-national calls made on hijacked conference phone lines at all?

Another show I remember was the last show at Olympia in London before it moved to Earls Court and one of our number (a serious trekkie) trying to bargain with the manager of the Beyond stand who had mocked up the bridge of the original Enterprise to publicise their Star Trek licence. He was after the captains' chair from the stand. Negotiations had gone on for half an hour before someone else from our group pointed out we came by coach and couldn't get the damned thing back with us anyway. :)

That show too I remember because of the rumour circulating that they were converting Goldrunner to the 64, when it was in fact our demo running on the Cnet stand. :)

On a different track I remember one of the guys from the computer club actually stealing the masters from Elite (where he worked) of Space Harrier and Bombjack on the ST, just to impress the hardcore hackers at the club. I remember all hell breaking loose with police involved and such. Happy times!

Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
I still have Pete Dabbs (JCB) on my messenger buddies list, and have exchanged emails with Mike Berry (Kernal), ex-cnetter who runs Commodore Apocalypse, with Mat Sneap (Mat & Psy), Ian & Mic and Chris Owen of the BCS.

When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
June '85 with a 1541 in December '85. And yes, I still have my original, battered but working C64 and 1541 sitting in a cupboard half a meter from my right knee as I type.

Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
Absolutely, I think the C64 was the first real games machine. All the other machines were computers which could play games, the C64 was a games machine which could be a computer. I think the reason that the C64 spawned so many demo and game writers was that BASIC was so bad that you really had to delve into assembler/machine code to do anything. You couldn't really dabble like you could on most computers. It was an all-or-nothing type thing.

When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
Sorry, it's just not going to happen. I would have to re-learn too many forgotten skills. :) It was extremely hard work.

Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
Claka, if you read this, get in touch (we think you are somewhere in Tipton, West Midlands). Ditto for Dokk and Tob.

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