The Church of the Machine God

Born in the summer of 1998, the Church of the Machine God was a proud but short-lived venture undertaken by Brothers OT (that’s me), Kevin, Søren, and Drew.

It all began when Kevin and I finally decided that we’d get an apartment after our leases expired. Until September ‘98 he was in an overpriced studio in Allston and I was in a free but mouse-infested Boston University apartment. As summer wore on, we began to plan for the setup and rules of our apartment. (We had secured the lease sometime in July, if memory serves me right.) Chief in our designs was the idea of a decent LAN and a good A/V setup. We had some NICs and a hub, but we needed more. Like any good Bostonian geeks, we made the rounds at the MIT Flea, where all manner of hardware could be had cheap.

Between a few hundred dollars at the flea and generous donations or sales by friends, we managed to assemble a decent system in the house:

living room

  • six 20” televisions (five worked, one was a 1960’s motorola that just looked great)
  • a tiny 4” combination TV/radio which never worked
  • two VHS VCR’s
  • a betamax VCR
  • a DVD player
  • a laserdisc player which was twitchy but operable
  • a pentium/75 (gregory-thaumaturgus)
  • a 50 CD jukebox


  • a 13” television
  • a VT202


  • a 486/66 (john)

After a month, or so, in the apartment, Kevin and I bought a new, 36” flat-screen Panasonic television with two-tuner picture-in-picture. This television, The Good Book, became the centerpiece of the living room, and the focus of much adoring worship (for so we called our slavish devotion to cable TV and console gaming.)

The idea was, in the end, to create an intranet application that would let you use TV Guide online listings to program any of the house’s common TV’s or VCR’s. There were numerous setbacks, though. The biggest was that none of us knew enough of any decent programming language to write the application to do it. (Søren was somewhat proficient in JavaScript, but not enough at that point.) Another crippling factor was our inability to find any good information on how to build a computer-controller remote control.

Failing these two essentials, we instead just watched a lot of TV and played a lot of Nintendo. Our games of choice were 007: Goldeneye and MarioKart 64>. (There was also a Playstation, but it was used mostly for FF7 and then left alone.) One television was mostly devoted to the History Channel and known as The Nazi Television because of History’s then-policy of “all WWII, all the time.”

The LAN went up almost before we had any furniture, and was used almost exclusively for playing StarCraft over IPX. There was no high-speed internet in our area and neither Kevin nor I felt the urge to set up IP masquerading to share a 56k connection, so there was, instead, a fifty foot telephone cable that was always running to one of our rooms for network connections. For a long time, that was our only line, and it led to many, many busy signals for our friends and family.

Shortly after Kevin died and Søren left (these happened within days of each other), Drew moved in. We quickly set up a shared dial-up and a second phone line, but as this part of the Machine God grew toward fruition, the greater parts faded away. We sold or gave away several of the A/V componants to make money and room, and soon had only two televisions in the living room.

Now, with none of the original Brotherhood still residing together and the pieces of the Machine God scattered to the four winds, only the dream remains alive – the dream that someday we may all have so many televisions that we can’t even think of a reason to turn some of them on. (The Good Book lives, too. It’s still with me, and still an object of great charisma. After all, it’s connected to the GameCube!)

Written on January 27, 2002