1986, Mindscape, Inrac Corp.
*My Video Review Of Racter
While I mostly do my own thing with regards to what I review; once in awhile someone points something out to me that has me dropping whatever I’m up to and focusing on this new thing. Racter is a prime example of something I knew would come up quick on my to do list. It happens there’s quite an interesting story behind Racter.
In 1983 the book The Policeman's Beard Is Half Constructed was released. In its introduction William Chamberlain claimed the following book in no way had human intervention; other than that very forward. That the book was entirely written by “Racter”; a computer program. The program was alleged to have run on a CP/M machine using compiled BASIC on a Z80 micro with 64K of RAM.
^Words of wisdom from Racter
I say alleged because this supposed CP/M version has never saw the light of day. What did see release in 1984 for DOS and Apple II computers was a version of Racter put out by Mindscape, later released for the Amiga in 1986. There does not appear to be much of a difference between these versions, other than the Amiga featuring the often under looked built in voice synthesis on by default.
What you have with Racter is a very early version of what is now known as a chatter bot. You type in remarks and questions, Racter will have the same for you. I recall one such program for DOS; Dr. Sbaitso. The thing about that program and the hundreds that are out today is that they are all trying to form some sort of relationship with you. These are computers that are attempting to fool you into believing they are human. Racter makes no such insults to your intelligence. Oh; it believes it’s intelligent, probably more so than you are, but it does not believe you believe it’s trying to be human.
^What do Intric8 and Freddie Mercury have in common? Both residence of Oz.
Racter is a focused program. Perhaps it is happy we are along for the journey, but it does not pretend to care about us. This gives you perhaps the first and somehow most refreshing chatter bot you will ever come across. The things that Racter comes up with will no doubt have you laughing your ass off. This thing has an agenda. It was written by man. It’s not trying to love you. Therefore you can uncover its agenda bit by bit, read into its story, get something out of it no other program is going to give you.
It has some strange peculiar things about it. Certain things just keep coming up which give you clues about the background of whoever wrote it. Much like Ron Hubbard utterly hates psychologists; Racter has one hell of a vendetta against cosmologists. He has a right winged bend to him without a doubt; but even a democrat should be laughing at his choice of baby names should two people from different parties have a child; Ronald Reagan Bucky Fuller.
Racter is afraid of old fashioned roosters, what are you afraid of? Tell him and watch as he brings it up at very strange times, pointing out that he does indeed remember what you tell him. Once in awhile Racter will ask if you’d like to hear a story. You can also coerce him to do this by typing “tell a story”. If Racter is indeed able to write a book on his own; these are the things that would be in it. Put in the names of your friends, watch him give a coherent yet out of nowhere story. Laugh, smile, enjoy.
^Racter takes a stab at himself, Hitler’s wild partying days in Detroit, sex with an ST, and my title card made on my Amiga
If I had this as a kid I imagine I would have spent countless hours talking to the Amiga. By the way Racter does indeed claim he is the Amiga; but so is Aristotle… Did this program write the Policeman's Beard Is Half Constructed? If it did there was HEAVY intervention by an actual writer. If such an advanced program had been written for CP/M I highly doubt Minescape would have needed to come up with their own thing here. Given that they were able to purchase the name I’m sure it would not have been a problem to purchase the original program. Some authors were lying their asses off to sell a book is what happened here I imagine.
Nevertheless I’m grateful for their cash grab, for Racter is a thing to behold. I whole heartedly recommend everyone find this thing and give it a go on your Amiga. Give it some names of the people you care about… The people you don’t so much care about. Enjoy what it spits out at you. I know I have. I think Mindscape knew they should not market this thing seriously; as the box states it is “half heartedly endorsed by the institute of Artificial Insanity.”
Should anyone care to ask Racter some questions but can’t be bothered to do it themselves; ask them here or in my video on Racter
and I shall collect them all and do a separate video where Racter answers your questions.