The Quest for “Illegal”

Illegal, founded by German C64 cracker and editor Jeff Smart in 1986 and running until 1991, is considered to be one of the oldest (or possibly the oldest) scene magazines. Unlike many other mags of the time, Illegal provided a fairly balanced picture of the C64 scene and did not just promote one particular group. It had an international staff of writers, and a likewise international outreach. Released on paper, the magazine reached 38 issues, and gained immense popularity: while the first issue had a print run of ten copies, later issues could reach an initial print run up to 1000 (while this initial print run could be again photocopied and spread by sceners). Despite this immense contemporary outreach, most Illegal issues fell prey to the pre-internet black hole. Only five (!) issues (18, 19, 29, 30, 31) survived as (low-quality) scans, thanks to, while further 14 issues (22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38) were typed up by several people over the years – obviously missing the layout and the graphics, which were often drawn by the legendary Hobbit/Fairlight. The first 17 issues (from 1986-1987) are completely gone.

Obviously, this needs to change. It is certain that the missing Illegal issues are scattered over scene veterans’ basements, attics and memorabilia boxes. King Fisher/Triad is a case in point – while moving house, he discovered a copy of Illegal #37 from April 1989 (which up to now only survived as a type-up by Strider/Fairlight), and kindly scanned it for us. This issue features, among other things (and some rather questionable teenage humour), an early interview with Manfred Trenz and Andreas Escher, the makers of the legendary game Katakis.

You can download the issue (b/w, PDF) >>>here<<<.

If anyone who reads this has any issues of Illegal in his or her possession, even if it’s the ones that are already scanned, please do get in touch!