WHO CREATED & RUNS THE

"SPACE TAXI" WEBSITE ?

 

The SPACE TAXI website was created and is maintained by THE VORTEX.

I have been using the nick-name THE VORTEX for more than 26 years. It started back when I was using a Commodore 64 and swapping Games, Demo's & Tools with people all over Autsralia and all over the World also, by Mail. So I stick to this nick name because many people know me by it. Those who have met me call me Jack.

What was your first games machine ?

My the first games machine I ever played was one of those crappy TV TENNIS / PING-PONG games. But in about 1982 I saved up my money and bought my own games system, the ATARI 2600 (woodgrain looking model), with COMBAT, PELE SOCCER & PITFALL. I was very lucky though, I not only swapped games with my neigbours but I also had a local Video Library and the owners was smart enough to be one of the first to HIRE out Game cartridges. And at only $1 per week.

So over the space of a year, I got to play about 100 different Atari 2600 games from many different companies like, Activision, Imagic, Spectravideo, Parker Bros, etc... it was a very cost effective way to try games that cost $70+ each , without actually having to buy them..

What was your first Computer system?

My friends all sold their Atari2600's and moved onto computers, cos computer games were more affordable and could be easily copied where as Cartridge type games were very expensive and could not be copied. Computer games also had better quality Graphics & sound.

My first computer was the Dick Smith VZ-200, and I thought it was fantastic even though the keyboard was all little rubber buttons and the Space bar was a bit small, but overall it was a good machine.

It had every single basic command built in, so if you hold down (CONTROL) and press the (R) key, it would print the word RUN on the screen. This not only saved time for a person who could not yet type fast, but it also showed you all the basic commands.

I had a 16k expansion, 2-Joysticks, a Tape deck, and every TAPE game that was available. I was waiting for the Disk Drive to be released but they took too long and the price was spastic so I decided to move up to the Commodore 64. But my friends had to drag me kicking & screaming as I had grown quite attached to my VZ200, and the thought of a NEW Disk Drive & Printer was holding me back.

Besides pressure from my friends to sell my old VZ200 and move up to a Commodore 64, there were other reasons I bought my first C64. See below:-

 

When did you first discover the Commodore 64 ?

In 1982 we had APPLE ][ Computers at school and we loved them but they were so costly to buy and you had to also buy various cards to install in the machine which was a big extra cost if you wanted to add joysticks or other hardware. At one stage I almost bought a BANANA, which was a cheap APPLE][ Clone...... there were lots of clones back then.. But when I played one at a Computer Club, the Analogue Joystick put me off completely.

Later that year, my neighbours cousin bought a Commodore 64 for about $700 New. He found it was too early to own one, no one else had one, games did not exist in the shops and the 4 games that MYER had were $80 each so he decided to get rid of it. Before he sold it he lent it to my neighbours and we took a look at it with a Dattasette and a game called Falcon Patrol.... and we loved it.

In only a few months , in 1983 the price dropped from $700 down to $400, so my neighbours bought one and so did many other people we knew. Now there were games everywhere but swapping was very slow, Again many hours spent waiting for games to load with the Datasette. 180 clicks was the average load time for a single game... (2-3 minutes.. painfull .. !!)

When did you get your first Commodore 64 ?

I bought my first Commodore 64 in the Trading Post for $300 with Dattasette, 3 games and a very reliable WICO joystick. The model was the 1982 PCB, the first c64 ever made. Only a few weeks later I bought a Brown 1541-I (v2) with the 1/4 turn Latch , for $300 in KMART in December 84.

I loved that drive and the smell of the electonics when it was on and hot , and boy did it get hot. I also loved the smell of the New 5.25" disks. And I will never forget when I bought my first box of COLOURED Disks, it was such a novelty, they were POLAROID, colour GREY.

I used them only for important utilites and few of my favorite games. And those disks have lasted many years now. In total I think I had about 60 Games Disks total, and 5 Tools disks.

What was the first Disk ONLY games you played on a Commodore 64 ?

SPACE TAXI of course, and a few others: G.I.JOE, JUMPAN II, KARATEKA, BRUCE LEE, CONAN, WIZARD, CATLE WOLFENSTEIN, THE INSTITUTE, MASK OF THE SUN. WAY OF THE EXPLODING FIST, SUMMER GAMES, THE GOONIES, TRANSYLVANIA, etc

When did you sell your (Brown 1982 model), Commodore 64 ?

In 1987 I needed a car as I was going out with friends quite often and trying to meet girls so I decided to concentrate on meeting Girls, and decided that the C64 must go as I needed the money for a car and I had decided not to Upgrade to Amiga as many of my friends had done. I thought I was too old for Games & Computers, time to go out into the world and experience all that Life had to offer.

When did you come to your sences and realise that you missed having a Commodore 64 ?

The funny thing was the friends that I was hanging around with now, who always wanted to go out, were now starting to want to avoid Arcades/Pubs/Clubs and wanted their own games machines for home use.

Before I knew it, everyone of my close friends had bought a Commodore 64 (white model). And they did not know how to use them. Now I was called over to various peoples houses to show them how to Copy disks, Format, create errors, etc..

The breaking point was when a friend asked me to write a MENU program so he could just pick a number to LOAD Games as he was sick of typing. I created a MENU program in basic which grew and grew, then it had a SAVE option, and then a SAVE & REPLACE (auto-update feature)... Before I knew it I was hoocked on the C64 again as I loved programming in BASIC, as I had made several little tools and one Adventure game years before. now I wanted a C64 Again.

Also, I needed a Computer with a printer Desperately. At my Uni, all they had were XT's AT's and a couple of Orange screen 386's, and it was very hard to find a PC that was not being used. Where as at home you can have coffee, food and have 10 books spread out over the computer table, with SPEEDSCRIPT in use for all Essays that needed to be written. Simply press CTRL+W for a Word Count, to make sure you had met the requirements.

When did you get your Second Commodore 64 ?

In 1990, I bought a complete Modern C64 setup. It comprised:-

- Commodore 64 (built in 1990)

- 1541-II

- MPS1230 Printer

- Commodore Joy-Mouse

- GEOS 1.5

- EPYX Fast Load cartridge

- 50 Disks ( in a lockable-100 box)

It was a "Business package", and the guy had bought it New for close to $1000 only a few months earlier, but decided he wanted a Boat instead as he loved going fishing. At the time, I thought the C64 is most likely dead and everyone must be using Amiga's by now, except for my small group of friends. BOY WAS I WRONG..

Sure the Amiga500 was selling as the hot new item, but not everyone had $1000+ to spend on just a computer alone. By the time you add on a 512k RAM Expander & a Second Disk drive, (that the Amiga was painfully slow without), you would be up for close to $1500.

Being able to Print was excellent and the printer was damn fast even by todays standards. The Mouse was something custom made for this "Business package", it is not a 1350 or 1351, it only works as a Joystick, and is not a true mouse. but many utilities support joystick not mouse, so I got a hell of a lot of use out of this thing. Where aas there is very little software that supports the 1351.

What did you use the (White) Commodore 64 for?

From 1990 to 1993, I actually used SPEEDSCRIPT and GEOS to produce a lot of my Homework for Uni.

GEOS is the most resource hungry monster you can ever use on a c64 so I soon expanded my system & bought a 2nd hand 1541-II. Soon after I started collecting Games and before I knew it I had 3,000+ disks and yet I swapped with a guy called Ivan Blitz who had 12,000+ disks.

What was your most powerful Tool?

My Action Replay 5 loaded most 200 Block PRG's in under 6 seconds. I would not have seriously used the C64 if I did not have this. Most people I swapped with had an Action Replay 4 or 5. You could not achieve any serious amount of Work or Gaming without one. The freeze feature was brillaint, then we used Super Crunch that came with the Action Replay 5 utility disk. And the Poke Finder was brilliant for cheating in those games that you could not complete unless you had 250 LIVES !! It was also quick at copying Files or whole disk sides.

Did you ever make any Serious, full size Games ?

Yes, I made a game that was in the theme of BASTOW MANOR, a typing adventure.back in 1991. My game is called CASTLE VORTEX & THE ALIENS. Set in medi-evil times, but with a modern twist. The game was made while I was at Uni, and it was a great way to unwind for me. It also taught me alot about programming, as it was a huge game. I had a company in England offer to buy it based on the 80% complete version I sent them to preview, but I was just too busy with Uni, Girls & friends to commit to completing it. It was never released sadly. But I may go back to it. By 1993 it was 98% completed but had a few bugs and it needed play testing. In 1994, I started full time work and that combined with a Girlfirend was the end of my free time. And the end of any enthusiasm to work on the Game.

When did you first get a Hard Drive & what was it ?

In the early 1990's I decided that I need to Back-up all my games as I did not want to lose everything after spending so much on disks. My Girlfriend had a PC but there was no Internet back then and no way to connect to a PC so it was not an option.

In 1992, I came accross an add in the Trading post for a Commodore 128 BBS system for sale running on a D9090 Hard Drive. I bought it with a special interface to connect it to a C64/C128.It cost about $320. It was great having 29,000 Blocks Free, but I used it mainly to store my utilites on and eventually I bought a second one, but never tried to use them with GEOS. The D9090 Hard Drive Loading was by a parallel cable connected to the cartridge port and is about 5 times faster than a 1541.

The first big game that worked 100% on a D9090 hard Drive was "Raid Over Bungling Bay", and boy did it load up fast from HD. It was also a very addictive game, which I played to death until I completed it.

I still wanted to get a Hard Drive big enough to put all my Games & Utilites on and eventually found a 20MB CMD HARD DRIVE with JiffyDos for about $550. I had to learn everything about this device the hard way as there were only about 2 other people in Australia who had one at the time.

Eventually I upgraded it to 540MB Quantum SCSI HD that I bought New for about $390.

Did you fall in love with the CMD Hard Drive ?

Yes, but I'm not going to marry it. I do love it, and I soon bought a CMD RAMLINK and connected it to the HD and was totally blown away by the speed. My 240 Block programs now load in 1 second from the Hard Drive. If you program on the C64 or use it regularly for Anything at all, even games, it is sensational to have it run at such a great speed after living with an Action Replay 5 and a humble 1541 for so many years.

Where could you find the biggest collection of Commodore 64 Software & Hardware for sale in one place?

Everyone I know would make the trip to Maxwell Computer Centre in Abottsford, atleast once in their lifetime. You had to go there to see 2 whole walls covered from floor to ceeling with C64 Games. And when you walked around the store in general, there were piles of Joysticks , Printers, Monitors for sale and also a section of 2nd hand Computers and hardware, that people had traded in. So you could also buy 2nd hand a lot cheaper than new. On the other walls hung cables for Monitors, Disk Drives, Printers, etc and few C64 Fast Load & Freezer cartridges , like Good old ACTION REPLAY 5 and the not soo good EXPERT Cartridge.

It was definitely the largest Collection of Commodore 64/128 and Amiga : Games & Hardware, For Sale New. And also the largest collection of 2nd handCommodore items for sale.

After Commodore went bankrupt in 1994, Maxwell's business dried up alot and so a year or two later, they were forced to move into a shop on Punt Rd, which was about 10 times smaller than the original place. Soon after they closed down completely.

Maxwell Computer Centre, 162-164 Nicholson st, Abottsford - 1993.
(Photo taken After it closed down)

Maxwell Computer Centre - 1993 Catalog - Front Cover.

Where did you buy your parts ?

Charlie's Computer Workshop was just behind Maxwell's. I think they were a Commodore Authorized Dealer as they could Repair almost anything, and they also sold every single Commodore Chip, so you could do repairs yourself on VIC20, Plus4, C64, C128, Amiga and All models of Disk Drive & Printer.

The only thing that Worried me was when I asked them to repair my CBM D9090 Hard Drive in 1993, they said it was too hard and they refused to even look at it, but they gave me a photo copy of about half the D9090 Technical manual, which was nice of them atleast.

Then I took it to THE WARLOD who could repair everything, from TV's & VCR's to almost anything Commodore, but he too could not get it going even after an hours work.

so I read all D9090 Technical manual and also got some valuable advice from a guy in America, and soon after I was able to repair it myself. And boy was I happy that day..

What now?

Well we are up to the time when the Internet became common, and that is when this Website came about, so nothing more can be said, except enjoy my Website.

By The Vortex.