Interview with Ozzwald of LSD / Automation 5th March 2004.

Finally we manage to track down one of the two driving forces from the dawn
of Automation, namely Ozzwald! Hope you're well Ozz ?

Yeah keeping good

Why Ozz ?

I was a Ozzy fan going back to the late 70's(saw Never Say Die tour in 1979), and use to enter OZZ on the high score table on Defender (my fave game at the time), and one of the guys 'made up' the name of Ozzwald Zachariah Zanussi (don't ask why, long forgotten), it stuck from there.

21270 ?! Baaah

Briefly what's your scene/computer history upto getting an ST?

My first machine was an Atari 800, though I dabbled with most machines. I
really started from playing with the Atari, I went through most models, but
the 800 was the real deal, just so well made.

Who founded LSD? There's a few theories on why LSD, the one I'd go for would be Leeds Software Distribution?

This was an often asked question, I am afraid the answer is, it stood for nothing as such. It was straight off the cover of a book about late 60's music, Marl liked it because he liked the look of the joined up letters, lol. My favourite guess was Ladies Skirt Designers.

Who were the other members of LSD... . their roles ?

There were 3 of us, I did the hacking, Marl took care of menus, the Amiga and other stuff. Rebel was our link to the world, we briefly had a guy called Neil as a member, he had a car and none of us drove :)

I recall that early Automation packers also compressed Amiga versions plus LSD released quite a few doc disks, legal tools and disk mags (Grapevine) on the Amiga... was there any connection ?

Some of the Amiga stuff was us, though the Doc disks and such were nothing
to do with us, they just used the name.

Right let's kick off with the birth of CD. How did this come about ? Were
there any other groups releasing menus at the time ? OR were you the first ?

I am not sure if we were first as such, there were other 'compilation' disks around (happy packed mainly). We just got it smaller and put a basic menu on it, the cost of disks and the fact that most people just horded disks rather than playing them helped.

How did you get in contact with WNW?

A friend at our local Bradford club also used the Swinton club in Manchester, we passed a message along and Rob got in touch.

Why did you decide to combine talents?

I think we all realised that we could achieve a lot together in terms of volume and range, we had put the basic elements together and Rob had the reputation and abilities.

Why didn't WNW join LSD in the early days ?

Never even crossed our minds, I knew Robs work from the 8-bits and liked
his work, it was a collaboration rather than a merger.

I remember Birdy/SCC used to take "one hell of a beating" .. did he really
deserve this ?

No, it was well over done, a bit of bravado. It started as a dig following a messed around with menu appearing local to us. It seemed to entertain people so we just kept going.

Who wrote the Automation packer? Was it true that it was based on an Amiga
compression routine ?

Marl appeared with the code, which WAS lifted from the Amiga. I created a basic front end and optimised where I was able and we were up and running. You must remember packers were common on the Amiga, I was amazed no-one else had done similar, why re-invent the wheel?

What other groups were you in contact with at the time ? any European ones
or just UK ?

Most contact was channelled either through Rebel or Rob, I did trade with a few guys, the only one I remember now was Pirasoft in Australia.

What was your main role in LSD?

I did the hacking and packing, as well as being at most of the computer clubs, free beer was always a temptation!

Do you remember your first crack ?

No, probably a 'BSR (drive-> growl growl growl), followed by BNE/BEQ'

Why did you decide to create Automation ? .. adding Sharaz Jek, Neil and The Un-nameables

New guys were supplying good work, and it seemed unfair to keep using the current name, thus Automation was born.

Who came up with the name Automation ?

Rob as I recall, I wasn't too worried and went along with it.

Did you find it difficult working with so many individuals ?

We circulated everything between us, so not really. Apart from the occasional double disk release, Disk 69 anyone?

Did you ever get close to being busted ?

Not that I am aware of, but we did get occasional warnings to stay away from clubs.

Were you ever part of any other crews apart from LSD/Automation ?


Favourite ST tune ?

Hmmm, never really had one.

How come Phantasie III wasn't cracked ? :)

Doh, I would assume either there was early protection that was caught, but more deeper in. or the wrong files were put onto the disk. Either way, sorry.

Did you go to any copy parties ? any stories ?

A few, none really memorable, the computer clubs were our biggest hangout.

What computers/consoles have/do you own now?

Only a PC now.

Do you still own your ST, and if so what do you use it for?

My ST vanished years ago during a house move, someone else no doubt got my

Have you tried any of the ST emulators?

Had a go with a few, Steem seems very good and ran everything I tried.

What was Rob C like to work with ? Are you still in contact ?

Rob was definitely an experience to work with, one of the finest 'hex' minds I have ever come across. I don't think he got a lot of our humour (me & Marl were real wind up merchants). I have not seen him (or Marl) for quite a lot of years.

Are there any games you weren't able to crack, if so why ?

I am sure there were loads, either the game didn't appeal or I tried a crack on a bad day. Rob used to love grabbing all the tough stuff, and who was I to stop him, lol.

Did you ever slag anyone off you wish you hadn't (in scrollers) ?

Probably dozens, again people seemed highly entertained by flames and bored by greetings, so it gave people a laugh. Sorry if anyone took it personally.

Did you ever not slag anyone off you wish you had?

No I think we hit most targets :)

What was the most innovative thing (at the time) you saw on the ST?

Border stuff was cool, especially when people had stretched their screen to fill it and totally missed the scrollers!

What's your fave ST game?

Believe it or not I loved Crystal Castles, I look back with shame that it was a memory drop on menu 1, rather than the later relocatable version.

What do you think is the best (technically speaking) ST game?

Dungeon Master

What's the worst ST game you have seen?

Most US Gold titles will fit here.

What's the best job of a game crack (ST) you have ever seen?

Rob with Dungeon Master

What's the worst job of a game crack (ST) you have ever seen?

A few of my own were not what they could have been, oh and did I mention
Birdy lol.

What's the best protection system you have ever seen?

Dungeon Master comes to mind, worst was surely Rob Northern.

Did you (or anyone else) manage to crack it?

Rob struck again

What's your fave demo?

Not really a demo person, but the always impressed

What's your cracking or menu group?

Well that would have to be Automation/D-Bug lol

What's your fave TV show?

Blackadder or Band of Brothers

What's your fave movie?

either The Wild Bunch or Kellys Heroes

What's your fave cheese?

Monty Python Cheese shop sketch for me please

What's your fave food?

It was Pizza back then :), anything Tex-Mex nowadays.

Can you name 10 ST Hackers?


Who was the best ST hacker ?

Has to be Rob

Can you also name 10 PC Hackers?


What does that tell you?

I must get out often enough!

If you could travel back to 1988, would you do anything differently?

Yeah, I would have opened cooperation up more, worked with the Pompeys and Medways to not only release stuff, but enhance it, save games etc.

Who did you most admire (scene wise)?

I don't really do the admire/hero thing, but I had a lot of respect for all the guys I was involved with.

What music do you like?

I am a a big fan of The Grateful Dead, Phish and various other US jam rock stuff

Are you still in contact with other members of the LSD , Automation or the old scene in general ?

I don't see any of the guys anymore. Though occasionally I come across people who used to use the menus, it is amazing how that stuff spread.

What tools did you use to crack most games?


What Pseudonym's did you have?

Never felt the need

What's you fave software house?

I always liked Psygnosis, they tried to be original. Of all time I have to say Synapse on the 8-bits, they had the knack of producing amazingly addictive games. Also something of note was that Blood Money used the Automation Compactor, Wayne Smithson used to go to the Leeds computer club and asked if he could use it, after several beers we let him have the source! Shame the game was so poor.

Do you think your activities helped to kill off the ST?

I always had and still have the attitude that money should never be made from the stuff we did, blanks perhaps, trading definitely, but no money changing hands. The ST died through a combination of the new Atari not creating a good gaming image (a la nintendo) and technology moved on. The ST was cursed like most machines of that era in that it was too proprietary, something IBM inadvertently got right, with a little help from Compaq.

What are you doing now ?

I work planning and administering a whole load of IBM Aix boxes, nowhere near as challenging but it pays well, I get my kicks now from online gaming.

Anything else to add ?

They were fun days, my favourite memory is of the fun and games with disk 69. The story is that we were due to use the number 69, but Rob released one first, so in return we released disk 69 pt 2. That would have been the end of it, but there were certain people who had very organised disk boxes (sections of 10 etc), who gave us grief and were hostile towards to us (even though we supplied there stuff!), so releasing multi part disk really screwed with their disk collection, sad I know but amusing at the time. I keep my menus in nice dividers....

Take Care

Rick (Ozzwald)