Interview with Igniter aka Stainless Steel Rat of Pyrotechnics / Automation 4th June 2003.

Another Automation member pops his head above the parapet, Hi SSR, Strange name! Where did you get it from ?

It's a character from a series of books by Harry Harrison, a must read really!!!

Can you tell me about your computer history , e.g. first computer etc ?

1981 - Commodore Pet / Sinclair ZX80 (The original doorstop!) / Sinclair ZX81

1982 - Oric 1 (zap, ping, shoot etc. oh what fun (not)) / Sinclair Spectrum (the best 8-bit in my books) / Vic 20 (ran the Pet software and Blue Meanies)

1984 - BBC Micro / Acorn Electron / Commodore 64

1986 - Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128 / Atari ST (my favourite computer, very easy to modify)

1988 - Amstrad CPC 6128 (only ever played "ZUB" by Mastertronic on it!)

1989 - Commodore Amiga (didn't have this long, I HATE IT!)

1995 - Conceeded and got a PC / Atari Jaguar ( I know its not a computer but I reverse engineered it (re-wrote the ROM) and used it as a computer (via parallel link to my Atari ST), I wrote the hidden game "Painter" a crush roller type game, for the unreleased Jaguar game "Slam Racer" by Sinister Developments. Apparently it's out on the net somewhere, yet to see a decent Jag Emu tho!

1996 - 2003 Various Different PCs, ALL AMD!!! Intel Sucks

How and when did enter the ST scene ?

Was so long ago I forget sometimes, got into cracking as it was a challenge, tho the early "Rob Northern" protection was a piece of piss, people thought I was great 'cos I could crack it (just patched trap #1 and waited for #$3D (file open) then let it decrypt the .pro file and saved it back out as a .prg).

How did you end up joining Automation ?

Was EGB of Sub-Humans In Turkey (or SHIT for short) who dragged me in, was a great time and most of the guys were diamonds.

Were you in a sub crew of Automation , eg Guardians of Logik, BBC etc or were you just an individual like Vapour and Sharaz Jek ?

My own lame crew (Pyrotechnics) was broken up as Xerud (a major lamer) used me as a stepping stone and dirtied the name. I decided I was better off NOT being in a sub-group, tho was often thought of as a member of Sub Humans.....

What did you actually do in Automation , just cracking ?

I optimized the packer and made a nice GEM front-end for it. also did cracks and pissed off SYNC by disassembling their tracker (demo version) and fixing the bugs and adding the missing features (it's on the Automation Tracker disk)

GEM Frontend by SSR

Which do you prefer ?

Cracking, still do it, tho very low key!

Are you a self taught hacker ? or did other members assist you in the early days ?

Totally self taught, it's the best way!! Taught a few people but gave that up as they all turned out to be lamers.

Do you remember your first crack ?

Um, first game was Arkanoid I think, first app was Pro-24 (code for dongle was stored in reverse, sneaky running code in the stack!!)

What was the hardest game to hack and why ?

Was some Thalion game, can't remember the name, I don't think anyone did it!! They knew their stuff, sync encrypted always fucked me up, tho I did jump in and have a look around after the decryption, but that didn't help either!!!

Who in your opinion was the best hacker on the Atari ST ? (I must stop asking this question as the answer is always the same! Shw)

Definately had to be Was-Not-Was / Vapour, total genius!!

Did you meet most of the other members ?


Any stories ?

um, keeping quiet about that, made a prat of myself at the Middlesbourgh party!!!

Did you play any part in the Automation <> Pompey feud ?

Nah, but was friends with Birdy during the Birdy <> L.S.D. feud.

I remember you released the Automation music tracker menu (#329) did you get much hassle from the coders of the trackers e.g TCB and Sync ?

Answered that one earlier!! TCB apparently wanted my guts, but I never heard anything except rumours.

Were you ever on the verge of been nabbed by F.A.S.T. or the cops ?

Yes and no, Scottish law rules, if you own upto everything they can't touch you. ie. if you own upto 500 counts of copyright theft, under scottish law you have to be charged on each one individually, it costs too much so they throw it outta court. Was caught twice, but got away with it!!!

Were you one of the members wearing the Automation t-shirts at the C.E.S show?

Sure was, I was also a trade representative, that pissed off a few people!!!

Were you ever in any other crew apart from Automation ?

Not really, in other words, it's too embarrasing to talk about!!! (ok I was Count Duckula of Cynix, I did the boot loader/Menu's)

Do you still have any Atari hardware, if so do you still crank up your ST ?

Unfortunatley I dont have an ST anymore, but I do have some cool emulators to run my automation disks on. (not many like my A242 Menu tho!!)

What are your favourite ST games ?

OIDS! and Wings of Death

AND worse ?


What are your favourite ST demos ?

Cuddly Demo was cool, the Union Demo blew me away, the first real Fullscreen!!!

Which coders (demo and commercial) did you admire ?

Pass (lmao, no hero worship here)

Have you seen any of the more recent ST demo releases (yes there still are some! ) ?

No, must look for those!

Are you still in touch with the ST scene ?

I wish, those guys were cool, I miss that welsh boyo, um THE LAW as he was a funny and talented guy, lost contact with him a couple of years back.

Have you used any of the ST emulators, impressions ?

Oh yes, anything that keeps the ST alive is cool. It's a shame that Atari Corp. churned out decent hardware and then didn't support it properly. The ST was a cool computer and not just a glorified games machine like the amiga!

Did you ever slag off anyone you wish you hadn't ?

Yes, and thankfully I never got a sore face.

What's the most innovating thing you ever saw on the ST ?

PLUG: DiviChrome (renamed to VidiChrome 2) my 4096 Colour Digitizer software, using a Greyscale Scanner and B/W Camera. I impressed myself with the coding on that one!!!

What's the best ST crack you've ever seen ?

Self Praise, is no Praise at all, or so they say, but who cares: My version of "Carrier Command", it's the only one I know of that doesn't crash after 15 mins. and my one file version (800MB) of "Star Glider 2" featuring SSR-Load&#8482; worked great on 520STs too!!!

What did you do after the ST scene faded away ?

Got into drink and drugs

Fave TV show ?

Six Feet Under

If you could travel back to 1988 would you do anything different ?

I would have stayed in the closet longer

Fave software house ?


What do you think of the current Computer/Console market ?

Not too bad, I like the XBox, it's as easy as the ST was to modify!!

What are you upto now ?

Programming (still), and generally being lazy, I had did my dream of owning a computer shop for a few years, and am now having a rest.

Anything else to add , final message ?

The only thing worse than losing, is quitting!!!
Hang on in there!!