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The Atari Interview: Gordon Hooper - The Atari Times

The Atari Interview: Gordon Hooper

President of the Garden City Atari Club and Canadian Atari Holdout
by David Sherwin

March 26, 2003
[I surprised Gordon Hooper with a telephone call on March 13, 2003 to his home in Victoria, British Columbia, to enquire about the present status of his Atari users' group --lately rumoured to have ceased to exist.]

David Sherwin: Mr. Hooper, I'm calling from Calgary, Alberta. I've heard that your Atari club is still in existence. Is this true?

Gordon Hooper: Where? Oh. Yes, our club still meets on the 4th Thursday of every month.

What would you think if I told you that you're probably the last active Atari users' group in Canada?

(Laughs) We're probably the last in the world! I know that there are a few in Germany... England... and the rest of Europe, and I keep getting e-mails from Cleveland. I think that's still going on.

Actually, there are still active groups in San Francisco, Chicago, and Minneapolis. But you have possession of the Pacific Northwest.

We actually don't talk that much about Atari anymore when we meet. Most of our members are into PCs and Macs now, but occasionally someone shows up and does a demonstration on the 8-bits. We've never been heavily into the ST's.

What about the gaming machines? Does anyone ever do a demonstration with the Jaguar or Lynx?

One of our members is a real gaming nut, and yes, he still does use his Jaguar. But most of our stuff is 8-bit. We have a huge disk library and most issues of both "Antic" and "Analog". We also have Bellcom's complete library. When Don Bell sold his business -- I don't know to who, but he did -- he sent us a complete backup library. 

We also have a complete 8-bit library on two CDs. Two Dutch guys belonged to the club for awhile, and they made a copy of every program they could find and burned it onto the CDs. Some of the material came from Seattle's Atari group when it existed.

So what was the last issue of your 8-bit monthly disk? 

Oh, God. I don't remember. It's been quite a while.

Let's say I wanted a copy of those Bellcom disks, or some of your software library disks. Would you make a copy for me?

Sure. I don't think that the cost would be more than mailing fees, as we're a non-profit organization.

How much are your member fees?

We don't have any. We used to have about 130 members, and amassed about $1000 in the bank. We've been using that ever since, but it'll run out sometime in the next few months. We'll then have to take up a collection if members want to keep the group going.

You still use Atari, don't you?

Actually, I don't. I had a TT (030) that I used up until a few months ago, when it blew its power supply. One of the club members has it now. I'm a professional writer, so I tend to use Macs and PCs.

(Jokingly) So you're saying that you don't use "AtariWriter Plus" anymore?

(Thoughtful) I haven't used that in a long time. I actually did write a few pieces on "PaperClip", though.

What have you written?

I actually wrote quite a bit on the 8-bits. I was published twice in "Analog" magazine -- mostly humorous pieces -- and actually published a book on the 8-bits. It was called "8-Bits Forever", and I actually sold enough copies to cover the cost of printing it.

No, wait -- I actually published that using "Calamus" on the ST. I used to port my articles that I wrote on my 8-bit over to the ST by e-mail. I'd write an article on "PaperClip", and then send it by e-mail to my ST.

I also wrote a few articles for the local newspaper on "PaperClip". I've also published a book on the history of Victoria, but I didn't use an Atari to write that.

So the Garden City Atari Club still has a newsletter, right?

Actually, we haven't put one out for a year. The guy who used to write that moved to Vancouver.

And "8-Bits Forever"?

I still have quite a few of those left over! I think that I charged people $5 CDN for people living in Canada, and $7 US internationally. Yes, I have some.

Thanks for speaking with me this afternoon. I'm sure that people will be interested to know that there are still Atarians in Victoria!

[For those who wish to join the last Canadian Atari club, Gordon Hooper can be reached at ghooper2@lycos.com. And he'll be sure to have a few copies of "8-Bits Forever" around, just in case.] 

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