Tribute to Jimmy Pearson

Jimmy PearsonJimmy's dream began back in the relative youth of electronic communication, when dial-up BBSs took messages grouped by conference name from geeks and techno-freaks of all ages and waited until night-time to bounce the mail back and forth across the country's telephone lines. These BBSs assembled themselves into "networks" run by obsessive control-freaks driven insane by the illusion of accountability and fear of laws that hadn't yet been written. And then came Jimmy Pearson.

One particular BBS network called Interlink (later known as ILink) after two years found Jimmy's Bytebrothers Technical Support conference to be outside their anal definition of acceptable and Jimmy responded around 1991 with the creation of his own network, "LUCIFERnet". The new network quickly grew with BBS participants disgusted with ILink's tight-ass behavior. LUCIFERnet prohibited absolutely nothing in its conferences with two exceptions: You could not copy other's messages to outside public conferences without their permission, and you should not use a false identity. Since accountability was still seen as a concern, with but a few careful exceptions the participants were limited to those 18 years of age and older.

LUCIFERnet was not always well-understood. Even Jimmy's parents had no clue what this was all about, thinking it was some kind of satanic cult thing. Jimmy created a place where people could express themselves as they please without fear of retribution, and where the definitions of acceptable and unacceptable were turned upside-down. Profanity became polite and politeness was profane. In Jimmy's own words:

"This network and conference is designed as an experiment in erasing all the lines that appear in the other networks as to what you can and can't say.

It's purpose is to allow flights of fantasy and violent profane and pornographic humour to be developed by the users. It's purpose is to find out what happens in a group electronic environment when rules of conduct are eliminated. It seeks to attract expressive users with vivid imaginations who are tired of what they think is mundane in networking. Which to a real extent is BANAL BULLSHITTING....

It's secondary purpose is to provide an electronic meeting place for some of the sickest motherfuckers who have ever used a keyboard."

The charisma and wit of Jimmy and the loose guidelines of LNet attracted all kinds of folks. By 1992 the traffic on LNet was so intense that it exceeded many BBS's capacities and we actually had to tell folks to shut up until they had something really good to say. The creative flights of fantasy in LNet's Bytebrothers conference included the religion of Rintellism, the Cave Pigs, all kinds of computer-savvy animals with human traits and foibles, a reincarnation of the infamous Ed Gein (including recipes!), praise of Fred (Dr. Fred Kantor), and veiled admiration of Mike Meyer.

Each year in the end of May, the Wichita River Festival (a yearly state fair held at the banks of the Arkansas River in Wichita, Kansas) was used as an excuse for everyone to get together from all over the country. Such was the draw of Jimmy's charisma. Even people from other countries would show up to party. The open-minded atmosphere both on-line as well as at the Riverfest created friendships and bonds that have lasted through the years and across the miles, and even many years after Jimmy's passing, some of the Bytebrothers still get together at the Riverfest to party together.

Jimmy Pearson, born 1949, was an engineer for fifteen years at Wichita Kansas Boeing, and also authored a number of popular adventure software titles including Lucifer's Realm (an early 1980's TRS-80/Atari cult classic), The Institute, Earthquake San Francisco 1906, The Curse of Crowley Manor, and Escape from Traam, as well as Parascan (a hysterically funny phony freeware MS-DOS virus scanner). Jimmy was railroaded by Boeing in 1993 and deprived of medical benefits, and discovered cancer tumours in his neck not long after. Jimmy lost his battle with metasticized lymphoma in 1994, leaving his elderly parents overwhelmed with grief, but greeted with an outpouring of sympathy and assistance from the Bytebrothers he left behind. It was only then that they truly understood what Jimmy had become.

 


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