My Life Story

Dustin as a baby

Oh well... The abridged version of course. I will not bore you with all that has happened in my life. Also, my memory is missing some pieces and, can not remember certain details. You have to know that my memory runs on stored images and when I lose the image, I lose the ability to remember and when I do see the images in my mind it is not telling anything about time except when details are shown about in what room I was, in what setting I was and with whom I was. So, if you know me from those days and you have a better memory than me, please contact me for any corrections or fun stories.

Here we go... It all started a long long, time ago on June 3 in 1972. I, Dustin Vogel was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I was a great baby, one of a kind. Did everything correct, and grew up as a sweet and very obedient child. Everyone with kids knows this is not entirely true, so that's all you need to know about me as a baby.

Big thanks to Dennis "Gypsy" Groeneveld, Arjen "Harlequin" Bokhoven, and my Floor van Rijn (my mom) for getting me up to speed with pictures and memories.

Different eras

Normally, a person starts at one point and upgrades to something faster and bigger. Faster CPU, more memory, bigger storage, and newer model. I'm my case I started with the Commodore VIC-20, upgraded to the Commodore 64, and later to the Commodore Amiga 500 but then going back to the Commodore 64 again. Here you can read about the different eras I have gone through.

The Commodore VIC-20 era

Dustin 11 years with Commodore VIC-20

My father, Wim, typing on a computer in the back yard. It this a BBC Micro??? When I was about 11 years old I got my dad's Commodore VIC-20 with a datassette. Can you imagine? I was 11 years old and had my own computer in my bedroom. I could wake up in the middle of the night to program, play games for as long and as often as I wanted, which I’ve done more than a few times. I had some games on tape and some listings from books which I used to learn about programming in BASIC. I love the simple programmer manual of the Commodore VIC-20. Using the sound chip and the text graphics, I created all kinds of fun programs like 'What is your name?', little games with flying birds and laser shooting games. Some games in the listing books used character graphics so I learned that too. BASIC was fun and easy, but I wanted more. There’s not much more to say about the Commodore VIC-20 era except that this was the beginning of the beginning of programming for me. Here it all began.

A little fact. This photo of me sitting behind the Commodore VIC-20 can also be seen in the credits of the documentary "From Bedroom to Billions". I financially supported this documentary in exchange for my name and photo in the credits. Not that programming brought me billions, but it did change my life.

Some time passed before I got my first computer with massive memory, advanced graphics, and extended sound capabilities: the Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 era (Part 1)

PC Invitation X'95 PC Invitation X'95 On the Commodore 64, I really started to love programming. I started to learn machinecode / assblemy but in the beginning, I did not have an assembler so I had to use BASIC to put my program in memory. I was programming machine language like '100 DATA 169,1,141,21,208'. This worked fine until you needed to insert some code and had to change all your jumps and braches. It was like playing your own compiler in your head. Understanding the numbers, knowing all the variables, jumps, branches. Back then, I didn't know things like an assembly compiler even existed. As I immersed myself in programming and learned more about the possibilities, I realized that this way of working was unsustainable. I needed to take the next logical step. I needed to program in assembly language.

The internet did not existed yet. Besides the good manual of the VIC-20 en de C64, I had books like "Leren Programeren: Commodore 64" from Phil Cornes. (See this set of books in my collection) and magazines like Commodore Info and 64'er. With those types of books and magazines I learned a lot of new tricks.

While I played some games on my VIC-20, the better graphics and sound on the Commodore 64 were perfect for games. My favorites were (just to name a few) Trollie Wallie, Things on a Spring, Monty on the Run, Decathlon, Boulder Dash, Pole Position, Aztec Challenge, etc. I don't think I ever finished a game, though.

The Commodore Amiga 500 era (Part 1)

Some years went by and I got my first Amiga 500 from my parents. I believe they got one second-hand. Programming it was different than my Commodore 64. Layered graphics, playing samples, larger memory, and an operating system that could run multiple programs at once, able to boot from disk. Different but better. No more sprite limitations, more colors, higher resolution, and faster. Using the blitter I was able to do some remarkable things.

I created all kinds of demos, little games, and (game)level editors. I started a one-man group called "Dutch Color Crew", DCC in short. I even managed to create a megademo. Too bad, I wasn't able to distribute it since I didn't know any swappers back then so all demos and code are lost. I remember drawing with DeluxePaint, creating my first animation, a cat being decapitated (with lots of blood). I think my parents got a little worried because of that. The Commodore Amiga had a bad influence on me :-) It was probably not necessary to got worried. I love cats.
My biggest inspirations were the big demo groups of that time like Red Sector inc, Phenomena, Rebels.

Just like on the Commodore 64, games played an important role in loving a computer. Games I played a lot are Speedball 2, Turrican, Pang, IK+, Worms, The Chaos Engine, Out run, etc.

My room with some junk between the Commodore computers. Please pay close attention to the Commodore computer only in the following picture. The rest is not important. :-) This was around 1990 and I was 18 years old. I was not always that neat, and tidying up was less important than programming. Apparently, I had a whole setup with Commodores but I took a good look myself and saw a Commodore 128D. And I thought I remembered every Commodore computer I've ever owned, but I can't remember a Commodore 128D. Not even with these detailed photos. My mother can only remember the mess and not which computers were there. I keep thinking that this Commodore 128D magically appeared in the picture.

The Commodore 64 era (Part 2)

Dustin at X-Party

Dennis Groeneveld, a fellow classmate, asked me if I could program on the Commodore 64. He knew some guys at the local community center who were looking for some new talent. We both joined the C64 demo group Silicon Limited. I as a programmer and Dennis as a graphician. We made some fun stuff together and became best friends. At this moment in time, I still know him and am grateful that he invited me to explore the 'professional' side of programming. As a group, we gathered in the community center Einstreindreef in Utrecht. We shared routines, ideas and made plans for demos. The venue hosted the first the big Silicon Ltd computer parties and later the parties called X (see Wikipedia). Groups from all over the world came to these parties.

Besides having a lot of fun, I was involved in making some invitations (A Party Again and Winter Party invitation in 1991), a tool (De linke Hollander in 1991) and the demo's Happy Scout (1991), Spoiled Rotten (1992) and Point Zero (1993). My handle (scene name) was Astray as I was a little 'a stray'. Not to be confused with the 'ashtray'.

Silicon Limited demo Spoiled Rotten My best demo on the C64 was Spoiled Rotten. It was so much fun to create the parts I did in this production, especially the demo part loader. It is colorful, bouncy, and even fun to play with since you could play a game while loading the parts. The game was basically pong but you play both sides and your opponent's controls are reversed. Since the playfield is so small you have to react very quickly which makes it hard to play. Impossible to play without practice. I was pretty good at this little game. The beautiful logo was pixeled by Dennis (Gypsy).

In one of my (less best) demo part, I found this message: “Truth wanted !!! Astray want to leave the C-64 scene. If you want him to stay at the scene contact Silicon Ltd.”. I don't think anyone has responded. Another part of this demo done by me is the DYCP scroller. The loader was speaking about a world record with the biggest DYCP scroller ever made. I'm not sure about that but it sounded great. It featured a 9x9 charset (72x72 pixels).

The Commodore Amiga era (Part 2)

Dustin programming Amiga 500 demo at The Party 93

In 1992 I started the Amiga section of Silicon Limited together with Dennis and some others. The first release was the intro "Amiga Section Born". A year later we release "Child's Play 1 - Preview". A sort of intro/demo collection. I don't think we ever made a full release. The same thing with Tune up The Bass, a music collection

Probably the only demo I've made for Silicon Limited on the amiga is Merry X-Mas. A very small and simple demo that even ended up 19th in the demo competition of The Party 93 held in Herning / Denmark. I programmed this demo at the party. I programmed this demo at the party (see image) and even did the animation of Beavis and Butt-head at the end of this demo. We took a tour bus to Denmark to attend The Party 93. I think I slept 0 hours during this adventure. After being awake for about 80 hours, I needed a long break to recover.

Amiga Section Born Amiga Childsplay Amiga Tune up the Bass Amiga X-mas demo Amiga X-mas demo

The PC era

After the PC became popular in the demoscene I switched and continued the programming on the PC. Equipped with an Intel 80486DX2 66Mhz, with a whopping 4 MB memory and about 400 MB hard disk. Just enough to play Doom. I Upgraded several times to keep it up to date.

On the PC we started "Success". I changed my scene handle from Astray to Dustin (my own name). Our first PC demo called "Black Ice" was released at The Party 94. This demo got 10th place in the demo competition. With Puker we managest to get to 3rd place at Bizarre 1995.

PC Invitation X'95 PC Demo Black Ice

On the PC I was no longer restricted by the limitations of a SID or VIC chip and memory like on the Commodore 64. I was free to do what I wanted, just like the Commodore Amiga, but the PC was easier to expand with memory and CPU speed. On the Amiga, I learned programming in 16bits which was very helpful on the PC to switch to 32bits.

PC Demo Puker PC Demo Puker PC Demo Puker PC Demo Puker

The collecting era

Dustin in 2021

Today, I'm all grown up, self-employed, got married, and have two daughters. Somewhere around 2010, I decided I wanted to have a Commodore 64 again and start programming again. Do some old-school stuff. After the first Commodore 64, I bought a second and a third. I started to do some simple programming (show the Commodore balloon sprite, made a scroller, etc.) again but did not find the free time to learn all that again. After the Commodore 64, I searched for other types like C16, VIC20, Amiga 500, etc... Now I'm looking almost every day for new computers, hardware or software. I have a lot of computers and hardware in my collection.

Over the years I supported a lot of Kickstarters and Indiegogo campaigns related to retro computers The ones that are Commodore related are campaigns like TheC64, From Bedroom to Billions, A Visual Commpendium (C64, Amiga), VIC20: A Visual History by Gaocomo Vernoni, The History of U.S. Gold by Chris Wilkins, The story of the Commodore Amiga in Pixels by Chris Wilkins, The Piano Collection & Limited Score book by Chris Heulsbeck, 8-Bit Magazine by John Kavanahg, The KS64C Commodore 64 cases by Dallas Moore.

If you want to browse through my collection, you are in the right place... Well.. almost. Just click here to go to my collection summary page or check out some of my irregular blogs.