If we like it or not, time is passing by. Not so long ago the Silly Venture 2k22 Summer Edition was held, and now the sister event opens its door for the fans of retrocomputers. Beautiful Gdańsk is inextricably linked with the Silly Venture, which took on, this season, white winter colours, welcoming guests coming from all over the world with a surprising amount of snow and frost. The first Silly Venture event was held in 2000, and with some interruptions continued until 2022. What makes it unique is gathering the entire group of Atari machines known from the Atari’s history at one demoscene event, where next to the demos created for the Atari VCS/2600, the latest productions for the Atari Falcon and Jaguar are shown. A solid piece of the 24-year history of products, ups and downs of the Atari company, which was founded exactly 50 years ago. This company was particularly close to Polish computer fans’ hearts, also due to the fact that officially Atari computers could be bought (only for dollars) in the “Pewex” stores. At the time, the cost of Atari XE computer amounted about 10 average monthly salaries in Poland. Nevertheless, people were able to buy it. 🙂
The Silly Venture is also linked with the Gedanus building, a district community center, officially entered into the Polish register of monuments. Its history is inextricably linked with the Church of Saint Barbara, whose first written record is dated 1387. The church was rebuilt many times, e.g. as a result of the fire that destroyed it, but the greatest damage was done as result of the II World War in 1945, where only walls remained. Especially the 16th century was eventful for the temple – 3 fires and devastation as a result of the siege of the city by the army of Stefan Batory left their mark on it. Also in this century the church became a Lutheran temple.
Who was St. Barbara? Some will say she is the patroness of miners, but in fact she takes care of a wider range of professions: sappers, soldiers, blacksmiths, prisoners, carpenters, architects, bricklayers, foundry workers, metallurgists as well as sailors and raftsmen, and the last two groups were quite common in Pomerania region, whose capital is Gdansk. Barbara was the daughter of Dioscorus of Heliopolis in Bithynia. In the capital of Nicomedia (today’s Izmit in Turkey) she came into contact with Christianity, was baptized and took vows of chastity. For his father, an official of the Roman Empire, it was a violation of morals and threatened his position. So he locked his daughter in a tower and starved her to wise up, and when that did not work, he handed her over to the authorities as a Christian. Barbara was sentenced to torture and martyrdom, which took place on December 4, 305. The cult of the new martyr of the Church grew up rapidly and in a hopeless situation, where the death was likely to come, St. Barbara was a person to pray to and trust.
Few people know, but St. Barbara is strongly linked with Pomerania. In the thirteenth century, Pope Innocent the IV, wanting to persuade Danish King Eric IV to join a crusade against pagan pirates, sent him a gift for encouragement – the skull of St. Barbara. The envoy – Bishop Sendeza, having had arrived at the place, however, missed Eric, because he had escaped to Sweden due to epidemic. Sendeza, however, went after him. During the journey, his ship experienced a strong storm, and as a result of it went off course and finally crashed in Oksywie in close proximity to Gdansk. Under the coastal law, the locals took Sendeza into slavery, from which he was rescued ten years later by a passing retinue of the Pomeranian bishop of Kamień – Jaromir, who was the nephew of the Pomeranian prince Świętopełk.
Hearing that one of the slaves was singing the song “Salve Regina”, Jaromir was surprised and approached Sendeza to make him free. It turned out that Sendeza still had the relic of St. Barbara which in gratitude was passed to Jaromir and Świętopełk. The whole story eventually led to the cancellation of the coastal law and the punishment of those who continued to apply it. As a memento of these events, bishop Jaromir and prince Świętopełek funded two bells for the Oksywie church – named Ivo and Barbara, which were to break all sea storms from then on. Relic of St. Barbara did not stay in Oksywie for long, soon it was taken by the Knights of the Cross and taken to Malbork. When the power of the Knights of the Cross was finally broken, the relic returned to Gdansk, where it remained until the World War II, during which it unfortunately vanished without a trace.
The bells, however, suffered a different fate. For a long time, the Swedes intended to take Oksywie over, but as soon as they approached the coast, both bells rang, preventing the inhabitants from being surprised. The only way out was to silence them. It was done by trickery, when on Pentecost the Swedes disguised as boatbuilders from Puck landed on the shore.
Both bells were stolen and loaded onto a ship that set off for Sweden. Kashubians and royal sailors set off in pursuit of them. During the naval battle that ensued, both bells unfortunately rested on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. As the legend says, to this day, on Pentecost, one can hear the bells’ ringing coming from the sea bed. The Gedanus itself was built in 1898 and was used by the Deacons in the Evangelical Community of St. Barbara. Housing a large, representative hall, it served the wide-ranging social and cultural activities of this commune. During the World War II, the building was used as a filtration camp, with addidtional camp facilities built on its eastern side. After the war, the building was used as a detention center and a sobering chamber. 😉 From 1960 on it was acting as the “Gedanus” district community center. Since 2002, the building has been used by the “PERFECT” Culture and Sports Association. This is all about the place, where on Friday’s afternoon I was heading for 🙂
Today I limit my report from the garden to the piece of information that in frosty Friday morning I provided the birds’ feeders with a decent supply of sunflower seeds and fat balls, cheered by the joyful chirping of forest sparrows and tits, and filled the frozen water container with hot water so that the birds could drink at least for a while. The dog, on the other hand, received a temporary license to stay at home overnight due to the low temperatures outside and the fireplace being lit, so the dog’s bones had a chance to warm up and the fur to dry. Of course, the best activity in this case was licking the paws on the carpet, as claws required maintenance. 😉
Let’s stop for a moment to warm the hands up with the cap of aromatic coffee, an finding a comfortable place with a blanket prepared. If you feel comortable and the cap warms your hands, let’s set off for the capital of Pomerania in Poland. 🙂
After getting to the railway station, I hopped the Szczecin-Białystok train, where a comfortable seat at the window was waiting for me. The train moved and the more kilometers it ran the more snow was outside, showing magical winter scenery, which is something uncommon recently. 🙂
After nearly 5 hours the train reached Gdansk with a slight delay. It was already after the dask and I observed a Friday’s heavy traffic as a lot of people were going home. After a few minutes I managed to get to the hotel. A nice lady at the reception greeted me with a smile and having the formalities done I went to my room. Having opened the door I found the room nice and tidy, and the most important – warm. 🙂 I refreshed myself and started to unpack my staff. Shorlty, the “Scouts”, i.e. friends who had arrived to Gdańsk before me, 😉 reported via sms – “Come to the venue as the limousine to the concert place is just about to leave”. Slightly surprised and curious, wearing a jacket, a scarf, a solid cap and gloves, I immediately set off to Gedanus located on 3 St.Barbara street, passing on my way a magnificent Church dedicated to the same patroness, who, as it turned out, had also to help the event organizers, 😉 as there was a blackout in a significant area of the city, including the Gedanus and the “City of Angels” club, where the concert was to take place. This resulted in a two-hour delay for the event. Having arrived to the Gedanus and after a few hand-shakes with the “Scouts” from Wielkopolska region, I managed to get into the 10-meter-long Hummer. Inside the vehicle, apart from excellent company, we were given a welcome glass of champagne and chip-tune music, straight from the Atari retrocomputers, which I even managed to slightly modify by touching the keyboard with the part of my body where the back usually loses its noble name. 😉 Fortunately, Grey’s quick action restored the music and hot rhythms generated by the POKEY chip came out from the speakers. 🙂
- Wacek / Arise (Poland) – “DJ Set of original ATARI remixes! Retro sound dancefloor extravaganza!”
- DMA-SC / Sector One^YM Rockerz (France) – “Atari ST Tunes”
The performance was started by Wacek (his concert could be seen here).
followed by DMA-SC from France (his concert could be seen here),
supported by specially prepared “isotonic drinks for adults” with very familiar names: Atari 2600 CHIPHEAD, Atari XL/XE ASSKICKER, Atari ST FirST LOVE. 🙂 After the concert, some of the guests decided to do some sightseeing of the beautiful old town of Gdańsk, the other ones returned to the Gedanus or chose the “hotel” direction to take a more horizontal position there, because it fitted the “isotonic” process caused by the “isotonic” Atari drinks well. 😉
Meanwhile a competition on the knowledge of the Polish film music took place in the Gedanus. Various film music hits were presented, and contestants were to guess the movie’s title. The winners got a prize in the form of book by Jarek Janiszewski entitled “Pictures from the Exhibition”, signed by the author 🙂 Foreign guests were unfortunately excluded from the competition, unless one of them was a Polonophile (possibly) and listened to Polish film music in his/her cradle, and watched the movie “The Nights and Days” instead of Disney cartoons. 😉
Saturday morning rewarded us with a beautiful sunny weather. In the hotel’s restaurant less official greetings and exchange of experiences also from the night activities took place. 🙂 Despite the tiredness visible on some faces, moods were good and after eating a delicious breakfast and drinking a double coffee we went to the venue, where we were greeted by a team distributing drinks that “gave wings” and made the difficult contact with Saturday morning smooth. 😉
The basic welcome pack consisted of: “Atari adVenture” CD by Wacek, a mysterious drink made to the SillyVenture’s recipe, a Compos voting card, a badge (double-sided 😉 ), Polish candies (Krówki), and a Christmas card. In addition, guests with the “strong support” ticket were given Christmas baubles featured by the Atari logo and, interestingly, the Commodore ones as well 🙂 . We had also plenty of other gadgets to be bought e.g. mugs, scarves, books and SillyVenture 2k22 Winter Edition exclusive T-shirts with a dedication from the Atari VP of Technology – Richard Miller, one of the creators of Atari Falcon:
On the opposite side of the stage there was a large stand of one of the sponsors – the Retronics company, which for several years had been delivering in a new restored form: programs, magazines, books, equipment and gadgets related to computers from the ’80s and ’90s of the XXth century. Worth mentioning are the reissues of well-known Polish computer magazines such as: Bajtek, Top Secret, Kebab or IKS treated by modern image processing methods supported by neural networks and printed on a good quality paper using modern printing methods. Thus they achieved a quality that the originals had never had an opportunity to get. 🙂
The venue was decorated with the Atari baloons, and there were: coffee, tea and beer at the guests’ disposal, while the kitchen served “bigos” and toasts, so it was hardly possible to find anybody hungry and thirsty. 🙂
In the afternoon, a special guest arrived, whom we had already had the pleasure to host on our blog, with no doubt one of the most famous Atari ST users in Poland, the leader of the Kombi Łosowski band, a composer and the maestro of keyboard instruments, Mr. Sławomir Łosowski.
Mr. Łosowski described his journey with Atari ST, how it happened that his equipment is under constant technical supervision of Atari fans from Gdansk and why, despite the time passing by, he still used this equipment.
There was also a technical discussion on how to keep old electronic equipment in a good condition and about a certain magic liquid that restored connectors to an almost perfect condition. 🙂 Mr. Łosowski also told about himself, the place where he composed, his philosophy of creating music and what inspired him.
We also learned that after the release of the “Minerał Życia” CD, Mr Łosowski worked on new arrangements of old Kombi’s hits from the 80s’, which would be presented soon at his concerts, and perhaps they would also be collected in the form of a new album. 🙂 After the meeting, Mr. Łosowski signed the CDs and everybody could take a photo with him. A great meeting! Mr. Łosowski proved to be a great musician and band leader, who knows the value of his work. Interestingly, Mr. Łosowski sweatshirt showed his graphics, it was a gift from one of the companies producing clothing for dentists, to which the leader of the Kombi lent his drawings. So if next time one would sit at the dentist and see Mr. Łosowski’s drawings on a doctor’s outfit, should not be surprised, and the smile should widen even more the jaw opening. 😉 Let me use this opportunity and send greetings to Ewa, our wonderful dentist. 🙂
The next item of the agenda was a birthday cake for the 30th anniversary of the Atari Falcon, in the form of the computer and necessarily also Richard Miller, by the way, I wonder who ate Richard. 😉
and greetings from Richard Miller from sunny California to the Silly Venture Winter Edition participants:
After Richard’s wishes, the preparations for the Compos started, a good time to chat and look around. The first computer that immediately drew my attention was the Atari 600XL with the classic RoadRace game on the Retronics stand. As a child I spent many hours playing this game and used exactly the same computer with an extended up to 64KB memory. 🙂
Going forward I spotted Atari 7800 equipped with a Polish multi-cart – the Dragonfly.
There were also representatives of the young generation. 🙂 Retro-games did not have such a sophisticated graphics as today, so in order to set themselves apart they had to have something that used to be called in Poland “honeyness”, and today “playability”. Children with no doubt can recognize and appreciate it, regardless of which generation they belong to. 🙂
Of course, the retroparty would not deserve its name if there was no “Homebrew” premiere. There was no exception at the Silly Venture and a new Polish production was presented. The newest Atari Jaguar game was advertised with a large banner made of a suspiciously familiar material… but maybe my eyes did not work properly… 😉
When it comes to interesting pieces of hardware, I spotted the MiSTer, an open source project that allows to run many retrocomputer and console platforms on one small piece of hardware,
Preparations to Compos were in progress, the atmosphere was getting tense, the bits warmed the processors, and the hall slowly was being filled with a crowd.
Of course the football fans were also well prepared. 🙂
This year we had a new record set for the number of works submitted – it amounted to 113. For the first time we had also a chance to see something for the Atari 5200 console.
Of course, traditionally, the works were about graphics, music, demos, games, intros and everything else in the ‘Wild’ category. The biggest impression was made by programs limited by their size which was 256B (you have read that right, bytes not KB, not MB, not to mention about GB). This is roughly as much computer memory as the previous two sentences; I recommend today’s programmers such a challenge for the next hackathon they plan to attend. 😉 The voting was possible both by means of a paper vote sheet and a convenient web application. Due to the late hours, some guests decided to go to the hotel and continue voting using stream. Of course, people from all over the world could also vote this way. The Compos competition ended more or less in the middle of the night. 🙂 The works themselves could be downloaded here.
On the next day, after eating breakfast, packing up and checking out in the hotel, I went again to the Gedanus, which came slowly to the life. Grey was placing the gifts for the winners on the stage, and more guests stood in the doorway, signaling that with a solid stamp to get rid of the snow from their shoes. 🙂
The winners of each category appeared on stage one by one, receiving trophies, gifts and Grey’s handshake. 😉 All this was rewarded with enthusiastic applause. 🙂 Due to the fact that there was a lot of works submitted this year, I will limit the presentation of the results to the official document by the event organizers: sv2k22_we_results
When all the results were announced and the prizes were given, there were special thanks to the supporters, sponsors and of course the participants.
Special thanks went also to Paskud, who provided a professional stream from the event spending hours at the TV console. Huge thanks also went to Grey, his Wife and Son, who did their best to make everything go well, which for such a big number of participants was not an easy task. At the event, apart from guests from Poland, there was also a size record-breaking team from France, as well as guests from Great Britain, Finland, Slovakia, Germany and Austria. In total, 187 people attended to the event, according to badges’ register. As always, the famous Polish hospitality did a good job! 🙂
It’s time to say goodbye to hospitable Gdańsk, Saint Barbara, who clearly watched over the party 🙂 and the Gdańsk Main Railway Station, which is just regaining its former splendour. Despite physical tiredness, we all came back charged with positive energy, newly acquired knowledge, and sometimes inspired to the new challenges in the area of retrocomputers. Great event and definitely we will come back! 🙂 It is also a phenomenon that among the Atari people, or as Mr. Łosowski put it, “Atarists”, there were Commodore people led by Steffan. Despite the eternal holy war, no one was hurt and even the traditional exchange of allusions was very limited. 😉 Grey, well done and I think it is time for you to take a well deserved Christmas break. 🙂
Finishing, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas, lots of gifts under the Christmas tree (we do it that way in Poland 🙂 ), goodies on the Christmas table and time for yourself and your beloved ones. It is also worth reaching for a good book or a long-forgotten hobby. 🙂 Now I am going to unpack the box, untie the cables and hang Christmas illumination around the house. Take care! 🙂
p.s. Special thanks to the “Scouts” from Wielkopolska for an excellent company and help in preparing the photo material, it was hardly possible for me to be everywhere! 🙂