This series is dedicated to my friend ‘The Pieman’ who hosted ‘THE P.I.T.S’ BBS in New York City and sadly passed away in 2016. I know his son ‘Blake’ will be reading this sequence of stories with anticipation.
We will never forget you man, you were one of a kind.
Also I would like to say a big thank you to Fabulous Furlough, ex-leader of ‘The Humble Guys’ who now works as an unpaid editor for most of my STEEM articles and helps me fill in the gaps of what happened almost 30 years ago.
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) is a continuation of my previous series, The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops
I settled into life at P&P Micro Distributors rather well. Most of the tales about the company besides the flange shaking dancing girls were in fact true.
The technical team consisted of TWELVE or so people, rather more than the THREE at Micro Peripherals and they seemed a nice enough crowd.
There were a few obligatory geek types with little personality as well as one bloke who ritually took to banging his head hard on his monitor.
This sometimes resulted in drawing blood due to frustration at the dumbness of some customers he had to deal with. Yes, it was all quite normal, and you always seemed to get one bloke like this in tech teams.
The main building of P&P was quite impressive, but the tech team worked in a two-story portacabin on the top level, the bottom one being the canteen which was indeed free to employees.
I liked the fact we were in this portacabin as it was tucked away from the main management and sales team.
They had to exit the main building, walk over and up some steps if they wanted to interface with us. More times than not, they simply couldn’t be bothered.
While at MicroP I had learned a little about modems; their speeds and protocols.
A lot of the technology was starting to pick up and when I noticed a 9600 baud, V32 modem in ‘The Information Centre’ or ‘TIC’, I had to have a go.
The problem was, it was connected to the librarian’s computer and she was not too friendly, with me or anyone else. Waiting for her to leave proved a good choice and I hopped on one evening after most of the techs had left.
Where I got the number from I simply can’t remember, but I made an international call to a BBS named ‘Rusty n Edie's’ in the United States.
This BBS was technically a shareware / public domain one, but I found some ripped off warez and proceeded to download them. I suspect one of the first games I downloaded was ‘Indy 500'.
For the record, I used to call it PC Speaker, but one day Dagan, (R. Bubba) cracked a game, and redid the .NFO for it, and one of the things that he changed was "PC Speaker" to "PC Honker". Which was eventually shortened to just "Honker". - Fabulous Furlough - 2019
The game was quite good for a PC and used Honker sound. A few of the techs installed it and then all you could hear was the sound of multiple honkers pumping out with this tinny sound of a racing car going around a track.
Considering the PC honker was crude, Indy 500 made great use of it.
Another game I managed to download from ‘Rusty n Edie's’ was Kings Quest from Sierra Online. This is where things got interesting.
Sierra OnLine , incorporated an install.exe file or similar that asked you for sound options after installation. These games supported the SoundBlaster for their sound effects and some music card named the ‘Roland LAPC-1’.
I was familiar with Roland as a producer of musical instruments, but this really got my attention. Could you have dual sound composing of separate cards in the same computer? It sounded overkill but intriguing.
The LAPC-1 was a Roland MT-32 synthesizer module contained on a full sized ISA card.
I had to get myself one of these Roland cards but from where could I buy one? In May 1990 the only place to get one was from Roland themselves, so I blindly ordered one.
The other interesting thing I found when downloading these .zip files from ‘Rusty n Edie's’ was this KINGQ1.NFO file within. I had a look and noticed it was an advertisement from ‘The Humble Guys' with a list of BBS names and numbers.
This was something of a revelation to me. Real pirate BBS’s, where I could leech stuff for nothing? Packaged by Eddie Haskel, who was this guy?
At this stage, I wasn't going to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to get a 8 x 10 glossy but I was going to find out what all this was about.
My interest had been piqued both with the Roland card and the NFO file. The next time I made an international call, it was not ‘Rusty n Edie's' BBS, but a different one.
To be continued...
All images have been cited and are under the category 'Labelled for Reuse'
Small Pirate Icon Source
.NFO files courtesy of the .NFO libraries at https://defacto2.net
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