from the novel "D" by Terbo Ted.
Available on
January, 2017.
free preview of chapter 5 below:

Doublebyte Magazine and the Skateboarding Penguin

Throughout the 90s, THE magazine to read if you were into California's high tech revolution was Doublebyte Magazine. The original publisher, Ben Jacobsen, was a good friend of mine and a mentor. Publicly everyone knew him by his double D pseudonym 'Doctor Doctor' or Dr. Dr., and he was an imposing figure, with his all black wardrobe, white beard, rotund frame and designer eye glasses. He was literally a genius and had a PhD in journalism. He loved to have a good time and during that decade he was ubiquitous in San Francisco, easily one of the most important people in The City if you looked at it the right way. He was a media pop star. I followed his lead as closely as possible, looked up to him tremendously and visited his SOMA offices constantly.

A skateboarding penguin wearing sunglasses was the iconic logo for the magazine. Nicknamed 'Pin-Go', he was literally on a million stickers, printed onto thousands of t-shirts, coffee mugs, you name it. I often wore Pin-Go shirts, my favorite being the black polo shirt with Pin-Go embroidered on the chest in glittery, holographic glow-in-the-dark dayglo threads. I had many of these shirts over the years, I lost count. I got them for free.

The magazine had started over in Berkeley and was initially collaged together from writers who had been more into hippy or punk counterculture before the tech boom started. In its early days the odds of one of the staffers having blue hair or being into psychedelics was quite likely. Many of the early stories in the magazine were science fiction works about imaginary technology. There was also an edgy undercurrent of fetish sexuality in the mix, which included all kinds of LGBT references which was also ahead of the times.

By the time the magazine had moved over to SF and into a huge warehouse space on Townsend Street by the train station, it was becoming a serious business and selling lots of ad space, especially to all of the latest gaming, software and hardware companies that wanted to come across as hip and edgy. It seemed everyone wanted to be seen in this magazine and be part of this fast moving technology buzz. The offices were in the same neighborhood as the major nightclubs and underground rave parties. These were very good times.

Doublebyte was also huge in Japan, although its Japanese edition was quite different from the English language version produced in California. The Japanese Doublebyte had lots of articles specific to Japanese manufacturers, software companies and video games, much of which were not meant for the United States market. The Japanese editors would cobble together bits and pieces from the most recent Californian issues, especially pictures of tech lifestyle in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Most of my public reputation was built on my being a guest columnist for Doublebyte Magazine, which I did off and on for over twenty years, from before the magazine moved to San Francisco. As a guest columnist, I wasn't ever an actual employee and was never paid by Doublebyte for my various submissions. I was on my own as to whether I would come up with a contribution or not, it was all based on my own interest or ideas. I had a deal with Ben: he would always give me one or two pages if I had something ready, and he never once censored or edited any of my works. I had great fun with this. Sometimes I would just send in garish computer art, which people loved. Sometimes I would make elaborate graphic charts about entirely imaginary data or products or culture, people loved this too. We called these 'Arbitrary Landscapes.' Sometimes I would write rambling, gushing pieces about art or music or some new device. Sometimes I wrote about how great life in the future would be after imagined technological advances. I was always consistently seen with a 'smiley face' ethos: everything was positive, forward thinking and good vibes. Tech was all good, never any downside.

While I was never an actual paid staffer, I benefitted tremendously from my association with the magazine. The amount of free things given to me was insane, people wanted me to write about their book or music or software or game or whatever it was. I got free tickets or guest listed to just about any cultural event I wanted to attend. My high profile resulted in my getting lots of consulting gigs. At one point I could make as much as two or three thousand dollars a day just visiting a local tech office and sitting through some meetings, giving my opinion about whatever it was they were putting together, from software to ad campaigns to video games to computer hardware, you name it. Everyone wanted my opinion and wanted me to use and promote their stuff. I was way better off with this arrangement than being a full time employee at the magazine. I did not want to be tied down to a regular desk job, that was too slow moving at the time.

I also was a very confident public speaker and spoke at a countless amount of gaming, tech and Sci-Fi conventions, always introduced as 'Guest Columnist for Doublebyte Magazine.' Mostly I sat in on panel discussions. Sometimes I gave rambling tech visionary speeches that would tie in all the latest jargon of the day, whether it was virtual reality or a new gaming platform, or an emerging code language, whatever was the hip thing in tech this week. I would always sprinkle imaginary futurist things into these discussions, making up narratives about how well people would live in the future. I'd reference art and music and lifestyle. For awhile audiences were really into it and I was traveling a lot. That I looked like a younger Dent Filsen certainly played a part in my getting all of these speaking invitations. Some of the more sublime events I spoke at were in other countries where the hosts treated me lavishly. I once spoke at an event in Toulouse, France, where they had a translator onstage doing their best to recreate my jargon-heavy tech talk into French. I spoke to huge crowds at trade shows in Taipei and Tokyo and I'm not sure if any of them understood a single thing I was saying. I'd use so many acronyms at times I seriously doubt anyone could follow along, and that was part of the appeal: wide eyed tech jargon with a Californian accent. I went to Japan many times back then, I lost count.

Doublebyte was at its most crucial just as it started moving from more of a printed magazine into one of the most important websites at the time on what was then a very new world wide web. When Doublebyte moved online, I was able to immediately contribute all kinds of fun animations and simple web based games to the website, I was a key contributor and yet was still never paid for these works. But I got hired for a good number of similar projects because of these pieces and was very busy at the time creating web animations for clients all around the world. Again, I was making way more money than if I were a regular employee at Doublebyte.

There were several stages of decline with the magazine. The first was arguably not a decline because it resulted in the magazine reaching a far greater audience. But when Ben sold Doublebyte to a large publishing company and retired, the magazine lost its soul as far as I was concerned. I stopped contributing as often, and when I did, I would have to sometimes argue as to the merits of my piece that may be interpreted to be offensive to advertisers, or cause controversy. The new corporate hierarchy was definitely taking away the publication's edginess. It was way less fun. I was still never paid for my contributions. I was seen as part of the past, respected for that early work, but it didn't feel the same to be treated as a veteran or historical figure. It became impossible to envision people wildly partying after hours in the offices like they used to in earlier days. I won't comment on how crazy some of that had been early on, other than saying some of it was pretty far out, far crazier than what would happen in a place like a licensed bar or nightclub. People employed there were now speaking in hushed voices in the office and actually looked like they were working at their job.

Another big stage of decline with the magazine was that it had no moral compass. It was all about promoting whatever new gadget or device or technology without ever looking into any of the wider reaching social ramifications implied. It never questioned corporate ownership or profits. It never looked at labor conditions of workers making tech goods overseas. It never addressed toxic waste from manufacturing all these tech gadgets. More than once the magazine had tricked people into believing imaginary technology actually existed, when it did not. Culturally it was hedonistic, irresponsible. As the publication aged it was seen as being tied to decadent rave partying in the past decade, connected to high profile tech failures of companies who had gone by the wayside in economic ruin, attached to technologies and platforms that were obsolete. At one point various portable music players made up much of the ad revenue for the magazine; later almost no one used those once ubiquitous devices that had been replaced by free smart phone apps. Eventually, much of the world Doublebyte had championed was already gone or never existed in the first place.

"An Artificial Intelligence attains self awareness and becomes obsessed with a disgraced tech journalist who had previously coded computer screen savers for a living. The two fall deeply in love and build a robot to become sex partners. Mayhem ensues." buy it now

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As experienced in the novel Based on a True Story: "D" by Terbo Ted: