Interview with T.M.R. of Cosine Systems
What is your alias? If you find the story interesting, then let us know how you came up with it?
T.M.R (The Magic Roundabout) after a French TV show that was translated for the BBC during the 1970's. Since the translator was on LSD and didn't speak a word of French it's one of the most enjoyable TV shows ever!
Have you changed handles? If so, give us the reason(s) and your previous nickname(s)!
Yes, I've used Bada (school nickname), Shamus (changed because one of the other members of Cosine didn't like it) and T.C.M. (The Cybernetic Man, which was changed because it was too generic and people kept mixing me up with Charles Deenen!) The first is from my freelance days, the others are all as a member of Cosine.
When and where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born on the 5th November 1971 in Deal, Kent. I live in Canterbury, some ten or so miles away...
When did you get your first computer and which computers do/did you own? When did you get your C64?
The first machine was a VIC-20 in 1982, my first C64 was in 1985. As for owned machines I have about twenty C64's (including two C128's, a C128D, two SX-64's and a C64GS), an Atari 800xl, Atari 520STFM, Amiga 500, two Amiga 1200's, a CD32 with an SX-1 and 540Mb hard disk, a 386, 486 laptop and Pentium 150. Currently I have the C128D, a C64, one of the Amiga 1200's (with a Blizzard fitted) and the P150 up and running.
How did you get to know the scene? Who was your first contact (person you knew) on the scene?
I knew vaguely of the scene from a friend, using the handle The Mad Mekon. He was cracking tape games in 1984 using John Twiddy's DisMon at a fair rate and I got interested in coding due to him and his brother, who taught me a lot. My first actual contacts were Skywave and Hookie of Cosine, whom I met at a Commodore Christmas Show.
Describe your scene career, including all groups you have been a member of! Keep chronological order please!
From 1984 to about 1988 I was doing simple demos freelance, then I met two members of Cosine, joined and, after changing pseudo three times, I'm still there today! I became active manager in 1992 (or thereabouts, it's a little confused) when Skywave was unavailable.
Which scene do/did you consider best and why? If you have been only on the C64, then give us the reason(s)!
C64. The Amiga was cool for a while, but most of the coders have bailed out, not a lot is happening and there was always a lot of backstabbing going on... The Amiga and especially the PC never seemed to get the same sort of sense of *community* that the C64 has...
What do you think you gained by being a member of the scene?
A lot of good friends, tons of brilliant demos and a *serious* phone bill!
What do you consider lost, wasted or meaningless during the years you have spent on the scene?
Probably some of the time I've spent trying to write games. The final results were good (okay, so I'm biased!) but it just takes me so *long* to get them finished...
What is/are/was/were your main interest(s)/function(s)?
Graphics and code. I do the odd bit of music, by porting note for note from ProTracker on the Amiga, but not often...
What made you start doing graphics/composing/swapping/modem trading organising or whatever you did?
I started coding because I like *constructing* things. I used to play with Lego when I was very young and it's a sort of extension of that. As for graphics, that was something I had to do because I didn't have anyone else to do it for me at the time. Now I tend to use highly cleaned up ports from the Amiga.
What are/were your greatest successes/fiascos?
My two successes are probably the third place in the X-95 party compo with Contraflow and the warm, fuzzy feeling I got when I realised just how *far* Lethargy had got spread. As for fiascos, probably my early demos, some of which were hybrids of BASIC and stolen IRQ routines and all were pretty much garbage. I may still re-release some of them (nobody I've met has ever admitted to having them, so I can be a little creative and hide the really crap ones!) along with a 1997/1998 remix as one pack some day...
Was there any special connection between you/your group and some other people/groups on the scene (co-operation, war, friendship etc.)? If so, what made it start and stop?
Have you attended parties? Tell us about your favourite conferences? You can even mention some fiascos.
No, not been to a party yet, it's difficult on my wages from England...
Is/was there any special feeling in your crew, something more than just being in a group?
Between most of the members it's a friendship, we've all known each other for coming up to ten years now. Some of the members on the Cosine list haven't done a thing for a demo in that time but are still there because we're all friends. Cosine is like that... Only one member is too far away to physically meet at least some of the others and I want to try getting us all together sometime in the next six months to fix that.
If you are not a C64 scener anymore, when and why did you leave the scene?
Still here, still kicking (albeit slowly) and still coding...
What were your favourite groups/artists/coders/productions? Why do/did you like their work/these programs?
Crest, Byterapers, Reflex, some of Profik's stuff, Ash and Dave, Borderzone, in fact most of the old Compunetters, Upfront... Most of the scene in fact! I enjoy any good demo, some of the classic Compunet products hold a special place in my heart, such as Future Shock (the first demo I ever saw) and Thrust Concert and I like a lot of what's come out recently, Krestage I and II being the biggies right now. There's not a definable reason for my liking them, it's just that some demos grab my attention...
Give us a brief description on the development of the scene as you experienced it and computer society in general!
The scene has just thinned out to a core of really dedicated C64 guys. This means that although there are fewer demos being released we still get some real classic material.
As for the development of computing society in general I think it's crap. It seems that any twelve year old with a Pascal compiler thinks he's a coder these days. I don't mean that as an offence to anybody, twelve years old or using Pascal, but I don't think that all of the use of high-level languages is a good thing. The problem is that the *real* coders, those people who can make a machine really *do* something are being swamped by a bunch of wannabees who write awful code and rely on the machine being of near super-computer power to run it.
It worries me more that most people don't know what a demo *is* these days, assuming that it has to be a demo *of* something and wondering how you play it! Some three years ago that would *never* have happened, but now all people want to do is vegetate... And I can't see it changing, we're all slowly drifting off towards a computing society where a web browser can take vast amounts of memory and system resources, where a poxy OS takes over 50Mb off the hard disk and where the art form of demos is basically something that only a select band of people like me, people who are willing to do things for *free* and not expect money for them, know about...
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 sell computers. Wintel boxes these days, but it used to be C64's and Amigas. I'm also doing a lot of web authoring, so I'm still programming to show off!
How did your attitude towards computers change during the years?
I've never really liked the 16 and 32 bit machines, I've sort of considered throwing more power at a job to be a cheating method of doing things. I do some stuff for the PC (web authoring mainly, that can be enjoyable) and Amiga (the odd bit of graphics) but I concentrate still on the C64 since it's still my main love, at least as far as computers go!
What do you like doing in your spare-time when not computing? What is/are your hobby(ies)?
I'm a science fiction fan, in particular Doctor Who and I tend to be at conventions and meetings of other fans with my girlfriend.
Are there moments when you feel nostalgic thinking back to the past years of the scene? If so what do you do when it happens?
I do think about it sometimes. Normally I'll either throw myself at a piece of code and see what comes up or just dig out a really classic demo and crank up the volume... I've just had one of those moments writing that little diatribe about todays scene. I'm going to put Future Shock on!
What are your plans for the near/far future?
Just to keep on going, doing more C64 stuff, some work on other formats, contributing to whichever publications will listen to me and basically making a pest of m'self! =-) We're all working on a few Cosine products, as well as some things on the PC as well and I'm doing web work all over the place...
What is your goal in life? What would you like to achieve?
I don't have a goal to life, I just want to have fun.