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Interview with Marko Mäkelä

What is your alias? If you find the story interesting, then let us know how you came up with it?

I have never belonged to a demo group, so I do not have an alias.

When and where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born 17.10.1973 in Vantaa, Finland, and I live in the capital region of Finland.

When did you get your first computer and which computers do/did you own? When did you get your C64?

The Commodore 64 was my first computer. After long whines I finally got it in early 1986, equipped with a datasette clone. Quite a few kids in the neighbourhood already had 64s at that time, and the 64 definitely was the standard. Unfortunately many of the kids did not want to copy games for "free", e.g. without getting a game in exchange, and so I had to concentrate on programming.

I managed to get a disk drive for Christmas 1986. In the first two years I learned BASIC from magazines and books that were popular at that time. Then I switched to machine language. My only development tool was a machine language monitor that I got from somewhere. Because I didn't have any contacts with other programmers, I didn't have any assembler.

How did you get to know the scene? Who was your first contact (person you knew) on the scene?

In 1992, one year after buying my first PC compatible, I got access to the Internet and found the comp.sys.cbm newsgroup there. I don't remember who was the first scener I met there. The first sceners I have met in real life were Mr.Sex and Dr.Dick from Byterapers in 1995.

After getting access to Internet, I asked the maintainers of the Finnish Universities and Research Network's file server if they could open a file area for 8-bit Commodores. The file area was created in spring 1993, and Pasi 'Albert' Ojala and I are still left from the original administrator crew.

I have created some cross-platform tools, like archive file converters and data transfer software (prlink). I also have worked on 6502 cross assemblers, and I wrote a recursive 6502 disassembler (d65). All my work for the Commodores is free, and the source code is available. I have also written some articles that have been published on the Internet.

In 1996, I created my biggest production on 6502-based hardware so far. Together with Adam Bergstr”m and Anders Carlsson from Sweden and Asger Alstrup from Denmark I created (to my knowledge) the first trackmo for the Commodore VIC-20, Veni vidi Vic!. The demo was published in the Wild compo of The Party '96. We did not attend to the party, but Jens Sch”nefeld, who had taken part to the Wild compo with his heavily expanded VIC-20 in 1994, took the demo to the partyplace. We had to fake that he belonged to our group. That is why you can see the German flag in the last part but one and German scroll text in the last part.

Which scene do/did you consider best and why? If you have been only on the C64, then give us the reason(s)!

I have never really been in the scene, but I appreciate C64 demos much more than PC or Amiga demos. PC hardware becomes faster and faster all the time, and there is no real challenge, because there always is enough computing power, or there will be in a couple of months. Also, on the PC and on the Amiga you can write parts of the demos in high level languages.

One thing that I dislike about the scene in general is the rude attitude against newcomers. I want to encourage beginners, since I still remember how hard it was in the beginning. I always publish the source code and let others use it. In that way, there will hopefully be better programs in much shorter time. Too many sceners simply ignore others and aim for the main prize at any cost.

Have you attended parties? Tell us about your favourite conferences? You can even mention some fiascos.

I almost attended to Assembly '95. I was only interested in the Commodore 64 compo, which was held on Friday evening. While I was arguing with the ticket seller (they only had 3-day tickets, and I only wanted a ticket for a couple of hours), the C64 compo ended.

I planned to attend to Tribute 1996, which was supposed to be a Commodore-only party, but unfortunately it was canceled. Big parties do not interest me, since I don't have any sympathies for the PC scene.

What were your favourite groups/artists/coders/productions? Why do/did you like their work/these programs?

I haven't seen very many demos, but I must say that the World of Code series of Byterapers really seemed to start a new era in the C64 scene. A couple of years earlier nobody would have considered such effects possible on the C64.

What is your profession? What do you do for a living? Does it have to do anything with computers? Is there anything you do in real-life that is similar to what you have been doing on the scene?

I am studying computer science, telecommunications and concurrent systems, and I will hopefully finish my studies by the end of 1998. I have absolutely no idea what I would be doing if I hadn't got the C64 in 1986.

How did your attitude towards computers change during the years?

In the early days, computers were only for playing games and for learning to program. Nowadays even home computers are so powerful that you can do really useful things with them, more easily than without computers. Computers are becoming a standard part of every household.

This is not necessarily a good thing; computer illiteracy is growing, since many people think that Pentium=Windows 95=Internet, and nobody wants to learn real programming any more. Hobby magazines with simple programs and nice electronics projects, which were common in the 1980s, do not exist any more.

What do you like doing in your spare-time when not computing? What is/are your hobby(ies)?

Computers are my main hobby. I occasionally mess around with some electronics projects. I also like to read books dealing with history or science.

While I dislike sports in general, I am a bicycle freak. For distances shorter than 15 kilometers I never consider other vehicles, and 50 kilometers is not an extraordinary long distance for me. I like to overtake mountain bikers and sport bikers with my old three-speed bike.

What are your plans for the near/far future?

Finish the studies and get a well-paid job that is challenging enough, possibly somewhere abroad. Maybe go for a PhD degree later.

What is your goal in life? What would you like to achieve?

Meet Her and raise a good family.

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