History - Byterapers and Grendel
This page is taken from In Medias Res - The Internet Edition. It's the interview I sent for this magnificient collection of scene-history, copied here to give it another pleasant home. While this Grendel's interview is naturally centered around his person, it gives interesting information of Byterapers' formation, history and couple views to scene itself.
Pieces of this article have been copied elsewhere in these pages.
This interview in its original form, with huge amounts of other legendary scenepersons interviews and other knowledge of demohistory can be found from:
In Medias Res - The Internet Edition
Originally written 27th February 1996.
Jump directly to THE FINNISH SCENE from a Byterapers perspective
Grendel, from Byterapers, Inc.
* How did you come up with your alias?
Before being a Grendel, I had handle that is all too shameful to be mentioned. Some amusement might arouse from fact that some older time friends from here actually have pre-Byterapers releases that are made with my pre-Grendel handle. And sometimes those terrible people tease me with it. :-)
But then, 1987 early or 86/87 winter, cannot remember, I started looking for a new better handle. I looked around, combined a list of possible canditates and thought about them. The favourite one, Grendel, was from old Scottish tales, a green monster living deep in a lake, robbing food and killing king's soldiers. Very nice chap. :-) Since the name had such good background I decided it would be pretty nice, as it sounded quite original too. Later I found that Marillion also had a song named Grendel, telling about that exactly same Grendel-monster. :-)
* City / Country:
Iisalmi in Finland
* Born year:
* What was your first computer, and when did you get it?
My first truly own computer I got in 1985, a C-64, same one I still own. It was pretty hard to obtain since I'd been whining about getting it for years, originally I had been whining for a VIC-20 years before :-) I'd anyway been in some kind of computer circles before, lending friend's computers and using them. While my knowledge about computer was quite basic, I anyway KNEW something already :-) Though NOT the secret of joystick ports - which one I should connect my stick for Elite???? It was very relaxing moment to hear, when I called to a friend, that stick was connected to wrong port. :-) So I got my first computer relatively late, but after a slow start (like, I had no games in first days since I wanted Summer Games with my 64 but it wasnt released yet so I had to wait) I corrected situation quite well. :-)
* How did you get into the scene and what groups have you been a member of?
It happened so natural I'm still amazed. We had some kind of scene here in Iisalmi, with our local heroes and cracker stars, especially Kasper who had over 300 !!!!!!! games. Small swapping happened between locals, but then I managed to pull out something amazing. I got a swapping contact! I got TOTAL NEW GAMES nobody had before around here. And I could sent out local Kasper Systems-cracks. Later I answered some ads in Computer & Video Games, and even managed to have one in it, and got more contacts. After this graduating to a real swapper I slowly somehow became the local hero importing all new stuff to Iisalmi. And then I got an idea. We had some pretty good guys here, who could be equal to those groups outside in big world. Why not make our own group? I called Kasper, discussed it, and Kasper already had a great name for group, Byterapers! He had been doing stuff on Byterapers name much before, but now early 1987 we founded this group officially.
With having own group it was later easier to gain more contacts, and since we had already two programmers (Kasper, Professor Fate) in (B), I could sent our own cracks and intros, which were then naturally spread on. Then it was simply work and more work. Name spread, we gained first local fame, then later in 1987 our name was already known in Finnish scene and winter 87/88 was maybe the breakthrough when Byterapers-name and logo started to be recognized abroad.
I personally have only been in one group ever, Byterapers. From the very first moment a pure, hardcore (B) member. (B) is not a group, it is a way of life for us, and I cannot imagine being anywhere else.
I TRIED to join Fairlight during '89, when (B) seemed to fall completely apart. I wanted to be FLT on C64 and (B) on Amiga, but FLT Amiga-members voted against me since (B) was completely unknown on Amiga back then. Actually I'm pretty happy for it, since things would be quite different now, maybe I'd have been changing groups much more like most other people....
* What was the proudest moment in your career? Well well, it's naturally hard to say. I guess, over the years, one very great moment was maybe in 1989, when some cracking charts showed us as NO:9 on world cracking groups charts. And it was vote-based chart, so actually people had been spreading and liking our cracks. Nowadays I'm not that proud of that since I work on legal side of computer industry :-) and things like that aren't my fondest memories. Usually when someone starts talking about (B) cracking is tell them to shut up, "WE DONT TALK ABOUT THAT" style :-)
A great moment was in Assembly'94, when we competed in C-64 demokompo. I still think our demo was better, but the stupid crashing during loading ruined our chances. World of Code II was so beautiful on bigscreen that I really felt good, so wonderfully good watching it and flied around afterwards. Assembly'95 wasn't worse either, Extremes was very much applauded and loved, and again it felt so good when complete PC-strangers noticed my (B) badge and started telling how amazed they were of Extremes.
One long-term satisfaction came from the realization that while most groups, back then and now, are formed from some previous groups that are splitted or something, Byterapers was formed from guys who had never been in any group. So (B) was built on totally unused ground, and made itself known by hard work during many years efforts.
* For What specific reason(s) do you think you are remembered?
I don't really know. There are still people who in parties come to me and want pictures to be taken, they with "a real legend". Maybe it's because I am some kind of cornerstone in Finnish scene, some kind of relic and demonstration of those "who were here so long before us". Maybe there's still some legend left from my old partyanimalism. Maybe because I was rather noisy and showed really well in parties. Maybe because I was dead drunk in 88-89 parties, and arranged once upon a time at least one big party a year. Dunno. Some still know me. Don't know why. Sometimes it's a bit embarrassing tho, but at least when I'm recognized I can get free drinks from people :-)
* What would you like to be remembered for? Maybe two things especially:
- hard work and total dedication to scene. I worked so much for Byterapers that I even stopped school partially for that reason in 1988. When I got the idea to make a new group, we all were totally green. From that I built a very successful group, that could even be described as famous. I lived for (B), and was self-proclaimed dictator in decision making. Nowadays I'm not saying if it was good or bad, nowadays (B) has absolutely no organization but back then we had one, and it worked if we look at results. A lot of members came and went out, but the group CORE is still much unchanged. And I say, say it loud, that it was largely my total dedication for years that gave Byterapers the boost for growing up. When certain momentum had been achieved, Byterapers worked by itself and I was able to withdraw to rest.
- Partly in union with previous reason, is my contribution to Finnish scene. While I worked days and nights for (B), I was also very apparent figure in Finnish scene. One very proud thing in that time, was that while I thought myself as "elite" (eliteness was important back then), I didnt immediately flag people as lamers, but in fact, helped helluwa lot of people to scene. Of Finnish scene, there's really really much people, whom I have helped up. Maybe I gave them some mental support, said "you're all right", gave someone new warez, answered kindly and so on. But Byterapers was also a big stepping stone for LOTS of people. Our memberlist was all time changing back then, 87-89, members came and went, were kicked or left by their own accord, and very noteworthy is that a lot of new members were from small unknown groups, and after their (B) time they could be found from much better position in scene-hierarchy than before. A lot of people gained seriousness for being in (B). But I must remind that this scene-helping wasn't only by the constant flow of members - I did a lot of helping to other people as well. Of course, all was not intended but it happened anyway. While I thought myself Elite, I have always remembered the thing that I rose myself from the deepest mudhole by WORK, and tried to give others the same chance. That is something that I'm actually PROUD of. While thinking myself as cool and supermegaElite, hovering above the lamermasses, I gave them chance and helped them with it.
- Some other things that could be nice to be remembered for, are for example my early efforts in arranging parties. Byterapers was big figure in early Finnish partyhistory, having the regular big yearly parties. Like Byterapers Party in 1988 (nicked later as Grendelparty :-)), Byterapers Voodoo-party in 1989, Byterapers/Scoopex/ Extasy -party in 1990 (nicked as Grendelparty II) and Byterapers Gathering'91 -party in 1991. Plus other miniparties and meetings. These also gave some big boosting to the development of Finnish scene and the friendship here.
* What made you stop the scene activity? (and do you remember when?)
I said earlier that I worked very hard for (B). That's why. I ran out of energy. I bought an Amiga and worked on both machines. Stopped on 64. Then stopped on Amiga and returned to 64. But now the horror part. Real reason why I stopped on 64 was ... MY DISK DRIVE BROKE! I had no money to repair it, so there was no way to continue activity on 64. So I had to work on Amiga, and (B) gained some name there later, but I never returned to my amazing activity that I was keeping on 64. Once I counted my contacts, and the result was that I was swapping with 150 (one hundred fifty) contacts at once. You can guess that it was very time consuming. Maybe you also guess why (B) gained some name, since there was I spreading our products quite helluwa lot and I wasn't the only swapper :-) More than the quality of our early products and cracks was our effectiviness in spreading them the reason for that our name slowly getting known. Still, the quality wasn't bad in that time's standards, only that there were groups making better demos :-)
Oh, back to subject :-) My disk drive broke during autumm 1989, so I stopped then on C64. I think I stopped 1992 on Amiga.
* Thinking back on the good old days, is there anything you regret?
Well... Nothing much I think. Afterwards thinking there were some alternatives to my personal and (B) course, but it's been all quite good as it happened. Maybe I only regret that I couldnt afford to repair my disk drive :-)
* What was your favourite:
Games?: Delta, M.U.L.E., U.S.A.A.F., Lords of Conquest, all SSI games, rpgs, mostly all those who needed thinking and especially strategy Demos?: I loved Warriors of Darkness demos, I was very fond of that group. Later 711 had lots of great feeling. Finnish Gold ruuuules. Programmer(s) (or programming team(s))?: FCS/FIG is one I bow to. Cracker(s) (or cracker group(s))?: Loved Papillon's intro :-) Composer(s)?: Maniacs of Noise and Hubbard Event(s) (e.g. copyparty)/memories?: First (B) party in 1988, Ikari/Zarquon party in Denmark 1989 where I was totally boozed and managed to make kinda great effect to those people around me :-) "Gendel and his plant" :-)
Beer :-) I don't anymore like stronger booze as I did before, I like beer since it's much more enjoyable to drink. Our own "IRA Special" (IRA=Iisalmen Rappio Alkoholistit) is always a feast.
* What are you doing nowadays?
Work and work and work. Not much time anymore for anything else. I work for a Finnish computer magazine, and I have many responsibilities there. If I get one job done, others are queuqing. Free time is a luxyry I dont much have, but overall I like my job. And actually it grew from my scene-hobby :-) Hobby grew to job, and THAT's something I've always loved in scene. :-) :-) Right now I'm steady with a girl living other side of Finland, so now I have extra burden with my work-responsibilities: while having hands filled with work, I spend periods filled with lust, and am completely unable to do any work. Hah :-)
Anyway I somehow follow scene, am part of it on 64, Amiga and PC, and go always to all possible parties. O what a Lovely Life.
My work consists of mainly two parts, writing about computers, and sysoping our BBS-system. The latter one contains both traditional sysop-things, aswell as hunting the net for stuff for the BBS and handling it. So I spend a lot of time in front of my computers dead bored unpacking, checking and repacking programs etc and then uploading/downloading them. Not my phonebill but gosh it takes time. :-)
* What are you doing on your spare time?
Told ya :-) Not much of it. Sometimes watching demos, playing role-playing games, reading books, going to bars and dancing and so on. O and worship my beloved one :-) Also I have two lovely rats, who require intense caring and often manage to drive me nuts. Usually we have mad weekend-parties with local (B) members including small parts of other local scene-community.
* Is there anything you'd like to say to the public (read: admires)?
Nah, I always say: Have Fun! That's a guideline in scene. If you do things you enjoy, with people whose company you enjoy, it's enjoyable :-) Byterapers in nowadays a group where all members are friends, and mostly know each other. We do things we like, and don't really concentrate on being great or anything good. So we dont either release much on any machine :-) We'll start releasing demos on PC, maybe this year, but have stopped on Amiga practically already 4 years ago. The comeback on 64 on '94 was surprise to ourselves too, and I must say it was very enjoyable experience, doing stuff again :-)
Right now we're working on creating Byterapers homepage on the Net, and we're really planning to do it special. I mean SPECIAL. It will have a lot of interesting stuff and information, not only about (B). :-) * What is the meaning of life?
Have fun and 42.
THE FINNISH SCENE from a Byterapers perspective
Those days on early C-64 scene were very special in my life. It was time of founding one's inner self, of creating something new that nobody had no previous experince, of creating SCENE. I think myself as 2nd generation Scenedude. Generation 0 was those dudes on Apple II, for whom I feel utmost respect, who invented it. When C-64 was released, the idea of groups was adapted and the Generation 1 followed the Generation Zero idea of founding groups. Generation 1 also invented, THE DEMO. They were people with idea, the pathfinders. FCS, later as FCS/Finnish Gold, 1001 Crew and so on, from 1982 forward, are the Heroes. Back then they were everything in existence, but they gave us the example. Generation 2, my Generation, started caming into existence during 1985, when some basics had been set. We didn't really invent anything, since we already had seen examples, but our generation pushed the idea forward. Naturally, we didnt know it, but it just happened.
Please let me tell about the early Finnish scene, since I think I'm one of the few ones still around to tell about it. There ARE others, Gallstone/Finnish Gold and April7/Digitize Design Group, but dammit its my keyboard so I speak now :-)
After founding Byterapers, we started creating (B) productions. Those were, cracks and intros. Kasper was the Coder himself, the great and Oh So Talented One. I was the pusher, making him to make things. Kasper was so lazy tho. Finnish scene? Was there one? Well, one kind of. But very small. Let's say that during 1987, with our lousy intros and some cracks we quite fast managed to get ourselves into Scene. We werent many, nobody was really good, but Byterapers managed to show some talent and got into the circles since we really had something to show about ourselves. I remember when I contacted the bunch of guys later known as Z-Circle (if it doesnt say anything, poor ya, Z-Circle was one of the dominant groups in Finnish scene 1987-1988, and was even well known by their time), one of them, Euku The Maker, wondered why they had never heard of us since we had made "so good intros". Heh :-) Ok, intros were maybe surprising good in their time :-)
Early Finnish scene. HOW small it was? It was SO small that it all fit into one house.
Really! Really! I was there! And so were everybody else! It was the Jezebels Union copyparty, arranged by Finnish Gold. In those good days of Jezebels, the Union that was combining all good groups into one big organization. Jezebels. A dream that didnt last long.
First about the party. It happened in Vaajakoski, near Jyväskylä, and there were maybe 40 people. EVERYONE was there. 29-31.12.1987, plus minus one day. Practically nobody had seen each other before. That that weekend forged the basics for Finnish scene. The Real Scene. The Scene where groups knew each other, where members knew other group's member at least by name. Time when Scene was so small you KNEW everybody, personally. That weekend, dreams were forged, friendships were made to last, and the cornerstone for Finnish Scene Legends were built.
Friendships? I don't feel ashamed when telling that I miss that weekend, that time. It was a big cornerstone in my life too. Many of those people I met then are dug into my most inner soul, as people who have shared this Experience of EARLY scene with me. Most are gone, from most I don't know anything anymore, but there are some who ARE alive. Ahh, and let me say that FCS/Finnish Gold still lives, not in scene, but his LITTLE BROTHER is a seeming figure in today's Finnish PC-scene :-) Lemming/Orange.
Dreams? During that weekend we were flying high. We met those people we had only known from letters, phonecalls and the SO FEW AND SCARCE intros/demos. Finnish Gold were still a member of The Austrian Union, and released a demo there. Finnish Gold released their first Amiga demo, which was the first ever FINNISH AMIGA DEMO. Digitize Design Group showed their new digimixes, and paved their way into the high grounds of DIGIMUSICS. The X-Men, this legendary group on Amiga, the 1st famour Finnish Amiga-group, came and demonstrated their releases. Byterapers released their new intro, that was to dominate our cracks during next 4 months - and get us more contact letters than any other product ever, relatively. And we made friends.
Cornerstone? During that weekend we made friends, we proved each other that we could really do things, we created atmosphere that gave every group a feeling of competition, rivalry. We created atmosphere where we tried to best each other, make things more and better than others. And because we had made friends, it was friendly competition. There were harsh words later, and Byterapers vs Finnish Gold hard competed and claimed the no:1 place of Finnish groups. Which was afterwards looking pointless, but it felt important back then. FIG were great at demos, (B) was great at cracking. We were in different league, but anyway tried to best each other. Oh well. FIG challenged us to demo-competition, in their demo "The Challenge". Idea? Well, FCS/FIG was best Finnish coder. Kasper/(B) was recognized 2nd best. So we were supposed to make demo and compete them. It never really happened, but I'm sad to say, Kasper/(B) was in fact CODING the competition-demo to challenge FIG - and we had a chance! Unfortunately, Kasper never finished his demo, as happened to most of his works during his career. I still have faint memories what it looked like, and in my o so faint memories the demo looked o so beautiful, so wonderful, so special. It it had been finished, I think it would still be one of the most legendary releases ever in scene-history. Unfortunately... it wasnt.
Cornerstone? Uhm, I got a bit carried away. Feel sorry for old (sceneterm :-)) man who gets lost in his memories.
Cornerstone? Oh yep. During that weekend we created the real basics for Finnish scene. Which was: STAY DRUNK!
:-) Hell, there wasnt that many sober guys in that party. Gallstone/Finnish GOld was like a train, every 15 minutes he crawled to toilet, puked and crawled back. I even watched from my watch. He had a puke schedule :-) Kasper/(B) was found passed out in very same toilet. Sardon/(B) was thrown out of window. Etc. I even have pictures of whole party. ALl of them :-) Except dammit me as I took the pics. :-(
During 1988 the idea of scene was spread much further, and for example in DDG's Digiparty'88 (spring) were people I didnt anymore know. But still it was very small. Two rooms :-) With whole Amiga-scene there as well :-) :-)
July/88 in First Byterapers' party we had first Finnish democompetitions ever. The C64-results disk was spread quite well I think. And it was a whole big house with about 100 visitors. And we didnt anymore have whole scene there. All who mattered, yes, but that party was invitation only since there were already pretty much people in Scene.
And that was time when people started to alienate from each other. 1987 and first half of 1988 were mostly quite happy time, since Scene was so small you could remember faces and even remember handles from almost all people there existed. I claim it was time of Friendship. It wasnt all happy, some small wars flamed, but OVERALL it was so good.
Bacchus said "teenage computer culture."
This was it. This time is the legendary iron-age of scene. Those who were there, can be nowadays proud as they were creating the nowadays Scene.
Some say current Scene is lame, no friendship, pure business and so on.
I don't think so. Nowadays scene is so large. I go to a party, a familiar face in the crowd is oddity. And I am surely one of the more active partygoers here. That is very different from from those earlier parties. But it's not so bad after all. It's just that there are more people to get friends with. More people to meet, more people to chat. While I don't anymore see many old familiar faces, I do see many new familiar faces. There's world filled with great people, who share same enthusiasm for demos, and you just have to meet them first.
Once I was very very troubled with the development of Finnish scene, since those new people flowing into scene seemed to be much much lesser quality than the 2nd/3rd Generation people already there. With 3rd Generation I mean people new in scene around 1988-1990. 4th Gen, 90-92 were somehow much less interested in the foundation of Scene, how it was born and seemed to care more only of themselves. I managed to stir Finnish scene quite a bit by writing to Maggy about these things, and while I must say I used much harsher words I really thought, it caused a lot of attention. I even managed to gain shithead-status among those younger people, since they took everything I said literally. But that was very typical to that period. Everything was taken literally, old scene-traditions were forgotten and the New Blood flowing to Scene was, in some strange unexplainable way, much DIFFERENT than previous folks.
So back then I was very worried about the Future of Scene, but lately I've been very _happy_ because development has been into much better. There's now another generation of Scened00ds, the 5th Generation maybe, who are suddenly keeping the traditions up. It's not that they look backwards, but there's a lot of great spirit around. There are so much new great people, making parties fun again and overall following the old rules of having fun and getting stoned again. :-)
Overall feelings are much better than some years ago. It's much more fun now. The cold-blooded professionalism and business-like trends of early 90s are gone, and people have realized what Scene should be. It's more than a plain hobby, not way-of-life for everyone, but it creates a underground culture with strange feelings of union and shared brotherhood. I guess that is much because the Finnish party culture has been forcefully reborn lately.