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Forums > CSDb Discussions > A letter from Stan about ESI good ol' days
2021-03-23 18:34
Dr.j

Registered: Feb 2003
Posts: 259
A letter from Stan about ESI good ol' days

I've got very touchy letter from Stan- American C64 user , who touched my heart with his story about "The Head Librarian" a complementary story about ESI days. I thought many of you will be happy to read it and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed reading it . of course I asked permission from Stan to publish it and he agreed generously , and here is it without any modifications or editing.

Stan write to me:

I bought a Vic20 in 1981. I was 23 years old. I didn't have the luxury of being a little kid that grew up with a micro computer in his bedroom. I was an adult with adult responsibilities: a job, an apartment, and a car. I had to make ends meet on $200 per week. Two years later in 1983, when I was 25, I bought a Commodore 64.

I had been buzzing around the local BBS's for about 2 or more years. On one of these BBS's I was contacted by a guy who was advertising he wrote a New York State Lottery (Lotto) number selection programs for the Vic20 and the C64, and the name of his company was "MMRS Soft". I remember reading his post: "Currently available 'VIC20 LOTTO' and coming soon, 'SUPER LOTTO' for the C64!". After reading his post I remember sarcastically thinking to myself, "Well big freakin' whoopity-do... A random number generator. That's in the Vic20's User Manual. I hope this guy's not trying to sell this to anyone." I let it go.

A short time later, he posted that he was looking for a program that copied protected diskettes. He sounded absolutely desperate. At that time, I guess I was one of the few end users in my area that had a nibbler program. Apparently this guy didn't. It was the "Pirate's Tool Box". I'm sure a lot of other people had it, but back then no one was giving it up so easily.

After exchanging a few messages, I took pity on him and agreed to give him the program in exchange for a box of new blank diskettes. He agreed. He wanted me to send it to him via modem, but at 300 baud, that would have tied up my only phone line for hours. I agreed to let him visit me. He wasn't local. He lived in another county which was about a 40 minute drive away, so I gave him directions, and he stopped by the next weekend. We met. We introduced ourselves. He told me his name was John. I offered him a beer, he said no. I offered him a cigarette, he said no. I said, "Well you don't drink, and you don't smoke, and I'm all out of hookers. Sorry I can't offer you anything." He laughed, so at least I knew he had a sense of humor. I showed him how to use the Pirate's Tool Box programs, and we made multiple copies.

He calls me during the middle of the next week and says, "Wow, that #3 on the menu, 'Auto Error Back Up', copies just about everything." I guess at the time it did.

The months go by, and we periodically kept in touch. One day calls me and tells me he is going to start a BBS. I shouldn't have been surprised by this because he made a very good salary installing P.A. Sytems, and at the time, he lived at home with his parents. So he didn't have many expenses, and had the extra money to buy all of the hardware.

He told me he was in touch with some people from Eagle Soft, and he got permission to open up an Eagle Soft BBS for the East Coast of the USA. I asked, "Who? Eagle Soft? Never heard of them." :) He said that his handle was going to be, "The Head Librarian". I said, "You know that some people might take that as a perverted sexual connotation, don't you?" He said, "Yeah, exactly." :)

Well as you can imagine, after that, the software flood gates opened. I mean he stopped by every freakin' weekend for years with 3 or 4 shopping bags full of diskettes of the latest Eagle Soft releases, imports, utilities, etc. I could hardly keep up organizing it all. It was beyond belief.

So I bought a second 1541 drive to help with the copying and the organizing. On one of John's weekend visits, he brought over a big PC tower case fan that used DC power, but he converted to use AC power, and would plug in to an ordinary electrical outlet. He also brought a sheet of foam filter element, and a screen. He wired up a toggle switch on my 2nd 1541 so I could switch between drives #8 and #9, and put the foam and screen over the vent slots and placed the fan on top to keep the drives cool, as I only had space to stack them vertically. Of course I was grateful, but I had to ask, "John, you're very generous, and I appreciate it. But why are you doing all of this?" He said, "You gave me my first nibbler program. I will never forget that."

Time goes by, and here comes the Commodore Amiga. John buys himself a Commodore Amiga A500, and dumped all of the C64 stuff. He donated all of his hardware and software to a C64 user group. I wish he would have asked me if I wanted anything before he gave it all away. I would have loved to inherit one of the CBM-1001 disk drives. :)

So now it's sometime in 1988 and John, "The Head Librarian", still runs an Eagle Soft BBS on Long Island, New York, with an Amiga A500 at the helm. But now he also bought a Commodore Colt PC to handle the BBS and free up his A500. We're still in touch. He tells me I should buy an Amiga A500. Well, that's great John. but I don't happen to have an extra $895, do you? You know what happened. I eventually put it on my credit card, and a Commodore 1804d monitor too. Ouch! :)

So here I am with an A500. I only have one floppy drive and 512k of memory. John decides to upgrade his Amiga and adds a hard drive, and extra memory. He calls me and says, "You should upgrade your Amiga's memory and add a second floppy." I jokingly replied, "John, it's becoming painfully obvious that I can't afford to hang around with you anymore." :) He laughed and said, "If you can get from where you work, an old PC 3.5" floppy drive with jumpers on it that change the sector translation, we might be able connect it to your Amiga. Also get a bunch of 64k memory chips that equal 512k. I have an old Datel empty memory card for the Amiga that I think still works." So I got the floppy drive and the memory chips from where I worked.

The next time he visited, he came over with an empty shell casing for an external 3.5" floppy, and a PC D25 serial cable he modified to connect the Amiga 2nd floppy drive, and the empty Datel memory card. While I installed the RAM chips in the memory card, he was working on the PC floppy drive moving around the jumpers to match the sector translation on the Amiga. We hooked everything up, and on the first try, it worked. I now had an A500 with 2 working floppy drives, and a 1 meg of ram. Wow! :)

History repeats itself: Once again, I asked him, "John, I really do appreciate your generosity, but why are you doing all of this?". He replied, "You gave me my first nibbler program for the C64. I will never forget that." I said, "Holy shit! The Pirate's Toolbox? It's the gift that keeps on giving." :) After that, for a while we stayed in touch, but less often as time went by.

As so often happens in the course of human events, we eventually lost contact. I had not heard from him in a long time, and couldn't reach him by phone or on his BBS. He never replied. So I wrote him a hand-written letter and mailed it to him. He never responded. When the internet became available, he shut down his dial up BBS, and the phone number was not valid anymore. As of this writing on 03/16/2021, it has been almost 30 years since I last heard from him. If John "The Head Librarian" from Eagle Soft ever shows up on the C64 or Amiga scene, tell him I said "Thanks".
--Stan
2021-03-24 00:43
Acidchild

Registered: Jan 2002
Posts: 426
really nice story, thanks for sharing, Alex!
2021-03-24 01:44
Shocker

Registered: Jul 2005
Posts: 11
Very nice to see Stan express his thankfullness after so many years. That is a truly touching letter.

I hope the message reaches "The Head Librarian", wherever he may be now.

Thanx for sharing, Dr. J!

Shocker/Onslaught
2021-03-24 02:41
Jazzcat

Registered: Feb 2002
Posts: 1007
Can forward this to John.
2021-03-24 18:50
Dr.j

Registered: Feb 2003
Posts: 259
@Acidchild:
my pleasure!!! we all one big community so I felt the urge
to share it here. greetings back
2021-03-24 18:51
Dr.j

Registered: Feb 2003
Posts: 259
Quote: Can forward this to John.

Hi Jazzcat:
Sure!! be my guest, it could be fantastic closure!!
2021-03-24 18:52
Dr.j

Registered: Feb 2003
Posts: 259
Quote: Very nice to see Stan express his thankfullness after so many years. That is a truly touching letter.

I hope the message reaches "The Head Librarian", wherever he may be now.

Thanx for sharing, Dr. J!

Shocker/Onslaught


my pleasure Shocker!!
thanks very much for reading :)
2021-03-24 20:25
macx

Registered: Mar 2002
Posts: 218
This is why I love the scene.
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