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Triad Trivia for the Masses


What is the meaning of the word "Triad"?

How old is Triad, and who founded the group?

What is the difference between "New" and "Old" Triad?

Are there hidden meanings of the classic Triad intro?

What is "System Four"?

What about the "Soft Express" incident?

What happened when Bob formed Censor?

What was "the Gamers Guide"?

What was "15 minutes of fame?"

Who were some important key-members of Triad?


Why have we made a FAQ about Triad? Well, it is not that complicated really. Our group has always caused a lot of debate and controversy, and since people still claim some very strange facts about Triad, there is reason enough to straighten out the most common questions raised concerning us in Triad and our members.

What is the meaning of the word "Triad"?

The name Triad has always had a marvellous impact on people. There's a reason for it. Philosopher Georg Simmel once distinguished two basic type of groups: the Dyad and the Triad. The Dyad consists of two people and is doomed to disappear once any of its members decides to leave it. The scene have seen plenty of these two-men groups die when either of the two main members decide to split. Then there is the Triad.

The Triad in its basic form consists of three members. The group is therefore independent of its members - if one leaves, there is still two left and the group will stay alive. The basic meaning of the word Triad is thus that it's a group that will survive its members. To the members of a Triad, the group is more important than their own personal careers.

In fact, the Triad is the basic element of any society, such as the Scene, the Town, or the whole UN. To put it straight with Simmels' own words: "I have three chairs in my house: one for solitude, two for company, three for society."

The Chinese and Japanese syndicates of drugs and software are also called Triads. These mafias have the same basic group philosophy: if one member is killed, the others carry on. No member of the Triad carries the group on his own shoulders.

It is not known whether the founders of Triad knew about this fact or not, but somehow all people more or less feels the inherent power of the word, archetypical as it may be.

In the case of TRIAD, the C= 64 computer underground group, the name came natural. The people involved in the founding came from three cities and three different groups: COD from Gothenburg, 3001 from Vaesteraas, and Mr Z and his pal RND from Stockholm. The latter duo was an informal group without a name, but it actually worked as a group.

How old is Triad, and who founded the group?

Late 1986 Arrow and Fred of COD were swapping intensively with guys all over the world. Typically they would recieve 4-8 parcels a day with new stuff. Arrow got in touch with Skydive in 3001 and soon got to know they had a somehow stable access to originals. 3001 also knew Mr Z and the "old man" RND. Now these three gangs (3001, COD and Mr Z + RND) with three distinct functions (Originals, Spreading and Cracking) saw a possibility of forming an interdependent Triad.

As a result Triad was founded 1986-07-28 at 9.30 pm by Arrow, Fred, Skydive, Ixion, Lucifer, RND and at last, but in no way least: Mr Z. On 1986-08-08 the heavy-metal lover Arrow and Fred spread a simple intro with a Swedish flag on top of the screen announcing the event. This was a time when a lot of groups had begun flourishing the Swedish Scene, eg WASP (We Against Software Protection), CCS (Computerbrains Cracking Service) and SCC (Swedish Cracking Crew), and for some renegade crackers in the heart of Sweden it seemed natural to form a group aswell. Ixion, bearing the name of the greek Overlord, was the coordinator pulling the strings, and naturally became the leader, it was also he that came up with the name "Triad". Later this year, WASP split up, and WCC (West Coast Crackers) was born.

At christmas 1986 all of Triad met at the WCC copyparty in Gothenburg to which they surprisingly brought their friends in SCC without asking WCC - who happened to be their worst enemies...

What is the difference between "New" and "Old" Triad?

From one point of view, there is one hell of a difference. At second sight, there is no difference at all. The "new" versus "old" controversy broke out in 1991 as Euzkera of Censor claimed "new" Triad was not one and the same as "old" Triad, mostly by referring to Mr Z as the bearer of the Triad tradition.

However an important and valuable cracker, Mr Z was not the leader of "old" Triad. Once and for all: the so called "new" Triad has the good memory of Ixion himself, the original founder of Triad. Also remember what the name "Triad" means (look up entry 1 again if you forgot): a group that is independent of its members and thus survives the hard times. For more information, see entry 6 below on individual members.

Are there hidden meanings of the classic Triad intro?

In case you woundered: Yes, there are. Some people ask us about this. The classic intro with its 40x6 characters in one of 6 different combinations colours and a four-coloured, massive or striped scrolltext below it, do hold a secret.

The colour of the 40x6 logotype is a rank of the games quality in the eyes of the cracker who performed the act of liberating the game from its copy-protection. The rank goes on an ordinal scale from black to gold, where Black is worst and Gold is... Gold. The scale is as follows: Black, Grey, Green, Red, Blue, Gold. Some may say there is no gold colour on the C= 64, well OK then, it is Yellow. Yellow cracks are the best. Pleased? As you can see Red colour is for mediocre games, and that is why you see the Red colour so often.

The inventor of the colour-code was probably Ixion. It is the kind of things he would come up with. The original designer of the 40x6 logo was Skydive.

Another thing about Triad cracks you should notice, is that in some old games you can press "C" or "T" instead of Space to get into Cheat / Trainer modus. Sometimes this is mentioned in the scroll, sometimes it is not. This feature was first put into some cracks on request from Ixion, who found out that Mr.Z played through all games he cracked to make sure they worked properly. Of course he could not do that in reasonable time with the game in normal modus, so he cheated. Ixion then convinced Mr.Z to include cheat mode in the cracks through this mechanism, and that is how Triad became the first group ever to support cheat mode in cracks.

What is "System Four"?

In fact only one person knows exactly what "System Four" is. That person is its' inventor: Jeff Smart. "the Story of System Four" was a monthly column in his underground zine "Illegal" which was widely appreciated but seldom understood for what it was. In a way, "System Four" was what C= 64 hackers know as "the Scene", a fantasy dream world that existed in every European C= 64 hackers' head during the 80's, and could be described as a hacker's paradise. "System Four" was an utopian future society of hackers placed in the year 1991 AD, in which year the whole world is politically divided into hundreds of sectors, called "Systems". Most people in "System Four" live in the capital called "Snatchos"..

"System Four" is not a democracy, but rather a kind of huge corporation (comparable to these huge corporations that plays an important role in many cyberpunk novels), which somehow gained political control over System Four and which takes care of all young software geniuses. You are selected from some of the other sectors to join the competing hacker groups in System Four and if you do not behave, you could be kicked out of the sector for good. People also move inbetween different systems for other reasons: System Four is for C= 64 computer hackers only. Other computer brands have their own systems, eg Amiga hackers belong to "System 16", Archimedes hackers to "System 50" and so on. Another curious thing about System Four is that the police seems to be an independent authority, separated from the established political power, similar to the Judges in "Judge Dredd".

In System Four you don't have to go to school if you don't want to, since the authorities know it is much more important to hack. All young hackers are given their own apartment and can dispose their life freely, but they have to adhere a certain hierarchy: all youngsters living in System Four and other hacker systems belong to a hacker group, which in turn belongs to one of 10 cathegories, from "a-group" to "j-group" whereof the "a-group" is the elite. Hacker groups can exist in several systems at the same time.

There are about 50.000 hacker groups in System Four, so the contest is rough. No girls participate in this ever-going contest, but live in a certain sector of System Four called "Cockis". Girls are (as usual?) attracted more by status than anything else, and would prefer dating an "a-group" boy ahead of any other, no matter his physical looks.

Only 4 groups actually belong to the "a-group" as the story of System Four starts out. These are: Fusion, Fairlight, Hotline and Triad. Members of the "a-group" have some privilegies that the other 10 cathegories lack: they have special locations to meet and chat, and can bring out outright orders to people in the cathegories "b" thru "j".

It is clear that "the Story of System Four" was just Jeff Smarts' way of writing allegorically about his own views of the happenings in the European hacker Scene without getting himself any enemies. Somehow it was also a kind of parody of the happenings in the obscure hacker world and the psyche of the youngsters engaged in it, especially that of Jeff himself. Not surprisingly, the first character we meet in System Four find the hacker world a horrible place and commits suicide. Note that "System Four" was Jeff Smart's brainchild, and he continued writing both "the Story of System Four" and the whole "Illegal" magazine after leaving Triad. (Jeff Smart was a part of "old" Triad, up to late 1988.) "System Four" is yet a very important part of Triad mythology.

What about the "Soft Express" incident?

Throughout the autumn 1986 Triad was really into the groove. Skydive counted 80 cracked games in 3 months, and the wheels kept spinning. Both Ixion and Skydive were "in" the computer business (ie they worked in a computer store in Vaeteraas, Sweden), and had thus instant access to new games. However another member of Triad knew some guys at the importing company Soft Express. (For personal reasons, we will not name this person.)

During the autumn 1986 the guys from Vaesteraas understood it was no use buying the games through the store, as they could get them instantly through Soft Express instead. They were of course instantly cracked.

So, in the spring of 1987 a Triad member got a call from Soft Express inviting Triad to a chat. Sales had decreased by 80% in Vaesteraas and 20% in Stockholm - in just three months.

Prior to this, someone had been trying to frame Triad. Up to the 1st of January 1993 friendly swap for non-profit was not illegal in Sweden, so noone could be nailed for merely swapping stuff, warez, pirate copies or whatever you call them. However it was seen as absolutely illegal to sell such copies. (In fact it wasn't illegal, as the copyright law in Sweden was much too outdated, but you could always nail someone selling games for tax-crimes or similar, like running an unregistered enterprise.) Cyberpunks like Triad were all safe and legal.

For example: someone called up a Triad swapper and wanted to buy a copy of the by then quite old game Flight Simulator. The Triad swappers knew it was illegal to sell pirate software and didn't sell any copies. However Fred had an original of the same game around which he sold instead. Later someone called up Arrow and said he had talked to Skydive, who should have promised him to buy a game through Arrow. Arrow refused. "We're not into that kind of business", he replied. On running a double-check, he found out Skydive had never talked to this guy.

Many people thought Triad was a real cool group and wanted to join these days. There were some two "hangarounds" who called themselves members of Triad, but were in fact not. One of these guys had placed an advertisement in Dagens Nyheter (Sweden's biggest newspaper) offering games 3 days prior to release date! These were games Triad had obtained in advance.

Some members of Triad went to see the guys at Soft Express. They offered Soft Express a "deal" - if Soft Express would keep supplying Triad with originals, Triad would not spread the cracked games in Sweden at all, just abroad - mainly the United States. Soft Express didn't like that idea.

Unfortunately we don't know very much about what happened then - just that the Triad member who had used his contacts at Soft Express in order to obtain originals was somehow put under pressure by Soft Express. He didn't like this and quit for all time, reluctant to even talk about C= 64 and underground hacking for a long, long time. An overly mild guess would be that he took this incident very hard.

For a long time following this incident, Ixion refused to spread any Triad warez in Sweden. Only the most trustworthy were given the latest cracks.

What happened when Bob formed Censor?

During the very first phase of "new" Triad after the initiating crisis, early 1989, 801 DC and Jerry found a whole new batch of members. Some of these (Notably Sensei and Taito) were former members of TPI (The Pirates International) who had applied for membership already in April 1988, but at that time were not let into Triad. Some of them were somehow newcomers in the C= 64 scene. Almost the whole new batch came from the capital of Sweden, Stockholm or its suburbs, and beared names like: Contring, Euzkera, Shark, Psycho and Dragon. These new members socialized a lot even beyond computing and peped each other to new, astonishing acheivements. No doubt, this was a winning team. With demos like "No Booze" and "Cocktail" they showed the world that their coding abilities were above standard.

Now, a piece of information which is absolutely necessary to understand what happened inside the group from this moment on. As I said many of the new members came from Stockholm or its suburbs. If you ever lived in a city of that size you probably know what kind of mentality youngsters aged 13-19 adhere in this climate. This is a world where kids need to be slammed into a brick-wall the day they are born in order to learn that this is a rough world. They keyword is respect, you have to have an attitude, dress cool, say cool things, and intimidate or fight everyone who dare step on your pride. This is the kingdom of street-law, and the psychopaths with hearts of stone are kings.

Of course the members from Stockholm, living in this climate and facing it in person each weekend, while at the same time spending the rest of their sparetime in a elitist underground computer scene, were fighters: better burn out than fade away. There were no second places or consolation prizes in their world. They would code for endless nights, fight for pride and aim at the top. There was no turning back, smash and grab, divide and conquer, the world at our feet, ON YOUR KNEES BOYS!

Was this all a fantasy or is the world really such a rough place? Who knows. As you all know this attitude worked out fine, especially American groups clearly understood the attitude behind these words, and the phreaker world is already a place as rough as the streets of Stockholm a late Friday night.

However not everybody appreciated this attitude. Notably Jerry didn't. Jerry had a softer approach; stressing cooperation, apprenticeship and teamwork rather than individual or groupwise "attitude". To Jerry releasing a good demo had a value of its' own, what the rest of the world thought about it wasn't at all that important. To the Stockholm guys, releasing a good demo was more a means of earning more respect, as was the cracks. If they were put in a situation where they would have to choose between fame and quality, they would probably, at least at this time, choose fame.

Probably this is a more accurate truth than the impression you could get by reading notes and scrolltext from the time of the split-up, referring to an incident where Bob arranged a cooperation between Triad and Virgin Factories as the trigging factor. The truth was that there were several disagreements among the members long before this happened.

As Jerry had been in the group before the new batch joined in, and also had the formal right to use the name Triad, the group remained with him. The guys from Stockholm formed a group under Bobs' supervisory bearing the name Censor Design - a name taken from a Skinny Puppy album. Perhaps this was all just as good, as the difference in scene approach was so vastly different.

What was "the Gamers Guide"?

The Gamers Guide was one of these digital disc-magazines released for a C= 64 audience. It was highly appreciated throughout the Scene and was released in 25 issues (or 26 to be exact, since Jerry decided to make an extra issue entitled #15.5) until finally put on the shelf in 1995. "The Guide" was a magazine dealing with something many people would find very questionable: it reviewed cracked games for the C= 64, thus encouraging the crackers to improve their cracks: make them better, shorter and add in more trainers (cheat options). Every now and then "The Guide" would make nasty remarks on cracks of low quality (eg if the game "crashed") and partly served as a media and public face for Triad. All issues of the magazine should be available from the Utopia Hacktic Archive.

The Gamers Guide was invented on 1989-12-15 by Injun Inc of Triad and realized in 1990. Some controversy broke out every now and then as other groups claimed to be the first to raise the idea of reviewing cracks, but in issue #10 of the Gamers Guide this discussion was dismissed for good by a proof so obvious that noone ever again bothered to discuss the matter. Along with issue #10 was the textfile that Injun had written in late 1989 and as he had by then left the scene, anyone with doubts could double-check the facts by calling him up themselves. Some might claim this was a silly discussion after all, but however amusing.

What was "15 minutes of fame?"

"15 minutes of fame" was a concept developed by modern artist Andy Warhol. The idea was that as every human wants fame, and as everyone wants to be on the TV, all humans should share the transmission time equal. This would give every human approximately 15 minutes of TV-time to talk to the world, and that would be all. King Fisher coined the term for an incident in September 1996 when the CIA (yes, the Central Intelligence Agency) homepage on the Internet was cracked by a Swedish hacker group called "Power Through Resistance".

In the incident, the contents of the homepage were altered to contain the message "Stop lying Bo Skarainder" (Bo Skarainder being the prosecutor in a hacker case involving the SHA - Swedish Hackers Association) and links were added to the Triad Homepage and two SHA protocols stored in the library at the Triad page.

This resulted in the Triad Homepage being linked by CNN, Svenska Dagbladet and a lot of other online publications. No doubt this is the greatest media attention in the "real world" ever given to Triad, possibly the greatest attention given to any C= 64 group ever. So we had our 15 minutes of fame.

King Fisher was accused by some journalists of having performed the hack. He didn't. Being able to code C= 64 demos doesn't mean you're able to crack into a public CIA webserver.

Who were some important key-members of Triad?

As stated earlier in this FAQ, a Triad is a group independent of its members. Members come and go, see the light of the Scene and retire during a groups life. Most old Triad members say they still regard themselves as Triad members of honour, though they have dismissed their activities. However, some people in Triad gained fame and fortune for their work, and ofcourse we wouldn't want to withhold you some basic facts on these people.

Ixion, born in 1964 and former member of The Pact and 3001 was the founder of Triad. He came up with the name and organized the group. He was also the man responsible for a lot of strange scrolltexts and Triad mythology which yet 1995 haven't ceased to puzzle people. He retired in August 1988 as he went on to university studies.

Mr Z is the idol of many Swedish hackers. To most early C= 64 people Mr Z was THE Hacker, spelled with a big H. Many say he was the first real Swedish hacker ever, and he started cracking already in 1983. He used a funny intro with horizontal rasterbars which has since then been spotted all around the globe - Russia, USA and Turkey included. Mr Z was born 1969, and retired from the Scene in 1987, since then refusing to have anything to do with it. He was also one of the original Triad members and the most active cracker in the group during 1986 and 1987.

3D - Dator Destruction Department was a renegade hacker known to Swedish C= 64 freaks most for his games entitled "Crackers Revenge" 2 and 3 respectively, and a nasty demo in cooperation with Mr Z called "Swedish Erotica". Born in 1969 (of the same age as Mr Z) his first meeting with a computer was when he got a Spectrum 48K. Along with Ixion he is regarded as one of the more "outspaced" hackers Sweden had in these early years, with a strange sense of digital humour which was later reincarnated with Kaktus and Mahoney.

Janitor was a member of WCC and Relax before joining Triad as a main cracker in the late 1987. He was born i 1970 and gained broad attention for his hard work on several cracks, somehow introducing level-packing as a standard. His most well-known and widely appreciated crack was "The Last Ninja" for Relax in 1987. He retired in february 1988 but made some few comebacks over the years. His friend from Relax, Mr Pinge, stayed active until August 1988 when he retired aswell.

The Sarge was certainly not the first paint artist on the 64, but he was one of the first really good ones and not only that: he was productive like no one else before or after. During his time in Triad starting after the summer of 1987, he shelled out heaps of pictures. There was at least one, but often 2 or 3 fresh pictures on most every spread disk and the disks were numerous in those days. He also designed 5 games using the SEUCK-editor. From the graphical point of view, most of those are the best ever done in SEUCK. He travelled on to the AMIGA and later PC and the proffessional game world.

Jeff Smart was a member of Triad, born 1968, active in Triad during 1988. He was most known for publishing the magazine "Illegal" which was one of the first ever to review and write about activities in the C= 64 underground Scene. This magazine was published on paper, and if you have some few copies around: lock them in a safety deposit box!, they will be valuable sooner or later. One of the most appreciated columns in Illegal was "The Story of System 4", a causerie of the Scene containing heaps of additions to Triad mythology. In fact, Illegal was one of the first magazines ever to publish "Charts", ranking groups in different categories. After "old" Triad's decline Jeff joined Scouse Cracking Group (SCG) in late September 1988. In May 1989 he was busted by German Police for swapping pirated software. The case was dropped due to lack of evidence but Jeffs equipment was destroyed in the process, and he was told never to publish a cracker fanzine again. It is no secret that Jeff never liked "new" Triad.

801 DC was in fact one of the most important Triad members ever. Following the retirement of Ixion in 1988, Triad almost died. The Triad eras before and after this crisis are sometimes refered to as the "old" and "new" Triad respectively. But Triad didn't die! There was one person who kept the fire burning, and that person was 801 DC. He and the Sarge released some demos from August 1988 until Jerry joined as the new leader two months later. He tragically died in an airplane accident on midsummers eve 1991, missed by all his friends in Triad.

Jerry born in 1943 has been the organizer of Triad since October 1988. Still, 1995 he keeps the Triad fire burning within the Swedish C= 64 underground. A fan of visual arts and C= 64 counterculture, he has the perhaps greatest demo collection in the world with thousands of disks stacked up in his home in the middle of Sweden. He is constantly bothered with the matter of preserving all of this information for the afterworld. One of his ideas was to transform all of his disks to paper tape. That's Jerry in a nutshell: always having these odd and weird ideas floating around in his mind. Jerry never seems to give up though he says he'll quit it all from time to time. The next day he calls up some members, energically explaining an idea that popped into his mind some hours ago. Probably there is still a lot to come from Jerry.

Chorus and Daw are mostly remembered as a team, but Daw was the first to join Triad. His friend, the well-known musician Danko suggested Daw to contact Triad. After having heard the music by Daw and having seen his code, he was instantly invited. At about the same time, Chorus sent in an application for membership and was just as instantly accepted into the team. Chorus painted 64 graphics and introduced a new style in typeface for charsets and logotypes. Daw and Chorus worked together the first time att an internal Triad meeting in B†lsta and the result of that was a demo called Suckpipe. They did three more demos as a duo but they also teamed up with other members for other demos.

The music by Daw was very special and he had a knack for using sampled sounds in the music. When he left the scene, Chorus decided to join Flash Inc, but after a time he rejoined Triad to make one more demo and also most of the graphics for Red Storm that was released a year after Chorus had left the scene.

King Fisher had worked in known groups like Byterapers and Royalty when he was invited to form Rebels. When they couldn't achive what they had hoped for, they wanted to join Triad and the majority of the Rebels members were invited. Like Janitor, 3D and Mr.Z, King Fisher is the sort of coder that has learned all aspects of the 64-system down to the very core of it, allowing him to master every sort of copy protection or any sort of demo effect. King Fisher is the only person to have appeared simultaniously on the cracker and coder charts more than occasionally. Not only that, in several magazines, he held his position for as long as two years. For the last 3-4 years, King Fisher has supplied the foundation for making ideas and dreams come real in Triad.

FAQ written by: Linus Walleij a.k.a. King Fisher and Jerry of Triad
September 1996.
Source: Triad's homepage

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