FrankenTRS, racsiii

The First Login by SUSAN THUNDER!

(Déjà vu all over again!)

Before I get into that, a little story

So I had finished doing all the work on the machine. It was up, it was running, it was doing fine. Little did I know that Susan Thunder has left me a surprise! It had been running for days without incident. I took the time to do a little work on this First Login Blog and get ready for its worldwide announcement. I had gotten use to about every 2 1/2 hours 3 lines of printing as the system decided it was time for a reboot just in case there were any issues.

But I didn’t hear that. So I went to check the screen. Frozen. Wow, weird, first time it did that. So, I reset it and went about my business. A few hours later I realized I hadn’t heard it again. Checked it, and the screen had gone into 40 character mode and just was unresponsive. Again I reset and went about my business.

The next day I checked it first thing, and it had claimed that there was a missing line in line 2. I checked, and it GOSUB 114. So, “LIST 114”. Not there. “LIST 110-“, nothing. Weird. So I just did “LIST”, and 100-114 showed up. WTELF? Maybe memory went a bit wonky. <SHRUG> Another reboot.

This continued for a few days. Line 2 in one program, line 6 in another, all out freeze, Disk 0 became unusable, Disk 1 just kept getting parity errors, etc. I was starting to think that I’d keep having to put it off much more. In a last ditch effort, I re-cleaned and reseated the floppy cabling. And crossed my fingers! Drive 1 is still very cranky, so I’ve decided to go without for now. 0 is really for boot, 4 is for newer versions of programs, and 5/6/7 are the workhorses.

Happy St. Patricks Day!

So here it is St. Patricks day. Its been running fine for 3 days now, and as you’ll see, even had a login. This is a bit bitter sweet. It’s up, it’s running, it’s been stable…. But I’m actually writing this from a United Airlines flight to Austin, TX where I’ll be for the next week. While I’m gone, someone else who unfortunately isn’t as passionate as myself will be watching the system. So if something DOES go wrong, feel free to drop an email to the address in the About/Contact and I’ll bug them to check, but I’ll only be able to keep the system running this week.

A mere 16 hours after I get back I leave AGAIN for Tenerife, Spain for a little more than a week. Given I won’t have anyone to look after it, I feel it prudent to down the machine during the time (VERY mixed emotions about it, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.). Once I’m back on April 2, I’ll bring it back up. I’m only around for a few days before I’m gone for ANOTHER 2 weeks to work on opening a rental house I have in Carova Beach, NC. Since I’m going alone, there will be someone to watch it.

So WHO was it that logged in? – Susan Thunder!

Oh, yea, lets get back to that. So given all the help I’ve gotten from different people, I wanted to make sure I represented them in a good (Ok, for some, just appropriate) light. So I gave out the URL to a bunch of people and told them to take a look and see. The way to get on has been on the contact page for quite a while, but unless you purposely went there I held up the post that mentioned it directly. I also gave it out to some friends during other conversations. (They did ask “What have you been up to”, I had to tell them the truth).

I had just done some checking on the system and rebooted it. I heard the first print line. Then the second, then the third. Ok, its…. what? A fourth? Normally I only ever heard a fourth if the “crash-reboot” code in the serial driver kicked in. UGH, what this time. But what do I see!?!?!? A connection and prompts. And who is it? SUSAN EFFING THUNDER!!!!


You’re asking “Who the EFF is Susan Thunder?” Did I hear you say “Who the EFF is Susan Thunder?” Oh, yea, right, this is mostly written from the Tandy TRS-80 Model I revival side of things. I guess I need to explain more about RACS III.

RACS III wasn’t just a Warez or Social BBS. We were dedicated (under the covers, special permission only) to Hacking and Phreaking. I myself was a hacker/phreak only after being introduced to Ms. Susan Thunder.

Back before RACS III, I ran “Connection-80 of Stony Point”. It was running “Connection-80” software based on Message-80. Susan called in and activated the SysOp chat. She asked where I was. Being someone that wasn’t willing to give out too much info, I told her that the system operated from a Bunker 10 ft underground with no other phone lines or ways to communicate. Apparently, she thought this was funny.

While we were talking, all of a sudden my house phone rang (Cell phones, whats that??). My mom screamed “There’s someone on the phone for you”. Susan wrote “Answer the phone”. I told her there was no phone. Mom screams “She says her name is Susan and wants to talk to you now”. But… how’d she get my number. The BBS line was under a false name (Roger Scott Thomas, which showed up in the phone book as “Thomas, Roger Scott”. Yes, a nod to the TRS-80 I ran on there. Susan again wrote “Pick up the phone”. I’d been caught somehow. So I picked up and talked to her.

Long story short

Yes, I bet you’re saying “TOO LATE”. HUSH! So it turns out that Susan was a groupie, a hacker and a phone phreak. She probably was being kind to a dumb animal when she helped get me introduced and involved with the Hack/Phreak community. She was part of “Roscoe’s Gang” , which was herself, Kevin (Yes, THE) Mitnick (Big love man) and Roscoe Dupran. So, when it was time to move over to RACS III, I added a bunch of hack/phreak sub-boards.

There’s volumes more that I can talk about Susan. But to save my fingers and time :

  • We used to be asked to talk at the same events (Some I also say were ones held in Virginia, Maryland and DC that no one will admit ever happened)
  • We got close during those talks that I asked her to marry me (Fiance #1, don’t ask but there were 4)
  • I moved to Glendale, CA to live with her before we got married
  • I moved out of Glendale, CA because it just didn’t work out
  • We’ve kept in touch all these years.
  • I got calls from a reporter asking me to put them intouch with Susan a while back, and instead of detailing it here you can read the story about Searching for Susy Thunder. And yes, I’m THAT Tuc.
  • There may or may not be a movie in the works about that article.

So the first call was someone that helped make RACS III what and why it was! I didn’t ask, but it really meant a lot to me. A bit of a gallery about her login –

Now that you’re done, NOW WHAT?

There initially wasn’t a plan on any encore. I planned on doing this, writing this blog (Which is SOOOOO unlike me, I hate writing. I failed “Intro to College Level Writing” 3 times between 2 different schools!) , making the system available, and calling it a day. But about 3/4 the way through I came up with an idea, since I had a bunch of hardware still, so there will be an encore.

The purpose of this blog was to put back a system to its original state and as close to the same operating parameters as possible. And I feel like I did that. Listen, I’m not saying that original is plain and boring, but, well, it really wasn’t as challenging as I expected (Good genes, good storage, who knows). I thought to myself, “Why not go the opposite way”.

Exactly what would that be?

A good writer never reveals their secret. Oh, yea, I’m far from a good writer and besides that it’s magicians that don’t reveal secrets. Well, lets build a bit of suspense, I’ll just say #FrankenTRS

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About Tuc .

Tuc, owner and Sysop of RACS III started his computing adventures on an IBM 5110 with a 4 inch screen, 16K Basic, 2 8" floppy drives and a 132 column dot matrix printer in 1978. After retiring for a bit to Tucs Beachin OBX House in NC, he came back and is now the Senior Site Reliability Engineering Manager for a global SAAS company.
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