John (Mr. Computer) #1

The tape features a demo for the television show "Wired In." While the program never actually came to fruition, the footage and demos put together are an interesting look into the the technological trends and innovations of the 1980s. In this video, we watch as computer enthusiast Jon, a.k.a. Mr. Computer, speaks with the Wired In crew about the computer industry.

00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with color bars.

00:54Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of a computer screen. The filmmakers are interviewing Jon about his relationship with computer programs.

01:50Copy video clip URL Jon states that he is a collector. He had just bought a new program. He explains that the first thing he does when he gets his hands on a new program is make a copy. In some cases, the copies work better than the actual program. Jon does this because it is a more efficient way of dealing with computer programs that have bugs in them.

03:01Copy video clip URL One of the filmmakers asks Jon how computers have changed his life. He talks about his first experience with a computer. “It was the first thing I came upon in forty years that got me interested in any kind of education or learning a new field.” Jon also states that he doesn’t ever get bored with computers and that after four years of working with the equipment, he still feels like a beginner. He also says that computer changed the way he earned his living. “So it’s just come and grab me by the scuff of the neck and taken over my life and I’m–It’s kind of like riding on a roller coaster. You know, you can make the decision to get on it but once it starts you don’t get off.”

05:04Copy video clip URL One of the filmmakers asks him if he been introduced to a whole new set of people through his work with computers. Jon talks about the fact that computer enthusiasts aren’t very social. However, he talks about his talking with people via computer. “And it’s very interesting because space is just obliterated.” He shares stories about some of the conversations he’s had with people across the world. He goes on to compare the process through finding a signal on a ham radio. He also shows the filmmakers transcripts of the conversations he’s had via computer. Some of the conversations help him understand certain computer processes that he does not quite grasp.

09:57Copy video clip URL Jon talks about some of the bulletin boards that are dedicated to the copying and trading of programs via computer. He also talks about the bulletin boards dedicated to computer gaming. He eventually talks about a role playing game called “Wizardry,” which was very popular at the time.

13:20Copy video clip URL He talks about the sophistication of computer games in comparison to arcade games. He states that RPGs can go on for years and take much more thought and attention to play. “Somehow it’s gotten beyond the game in that there aren’t even rulebooks, there are scenarios.”

15:21Copy video clip URL He responds to the piracy epidemic within the industry and states that there are two sides to the issue. “I think the reason that there’s so much fuss about the breaking or what, depending on which side you’re on–if you’re on the manufacturing side they call it piracy and if you’re on the other side it’s called learning. […] But the manufacturers obviously feel that they’re losing millions of dollars because they take the position that every time a copy is made rather than someone buying it gets a copy of someone else’s game, that they’ve lost a sale, you know which may or may not be true. My feeling is that most of the people who get these copies would never have been customers anyway and in many cases, they actually create sales.”

17:30Copy video clip URL He talks about his breaking programs and his reasons for doing so. “I break programs much the way some people do the crossword puzzle in the paper every morning. To me it’s just a game. And in doing that it’s an exercise that helps me learn more about the machines and about programs and how programs run so that when I do things for income on the computers, I can do them much better just from the experience I’ve got from playing with trying to break down protection on programs.” He goes on to talk about his very seldom use of trading programs via computer. He then talks about his being a collector of computer programs, which he mainly acquires through breaking those programs for others who in turn give him a copy. I have a couple thousand programs–most of them I’ve never looked at or run except to look at them for learning advice. It’s like these programs to me are like a lawyer’s wall of books behind them. They’re there to support him even though he’s never read the bulk of them.” “I’m a collector and feel that the biggest bulk of the people who are involved in the what they call piracy and trading are just that: They’re collectors and they collect programs the way other people collect books, or stamps, or bottles of wine.”

19:40Copy video clip URL Tape ends.

 

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