Part 4: Rex Forces a Break
Continuing from Part 3.
Surprisingly quickly, Rex's people put together a community forum called "Dodge City," complete with a full spectrum of "early Internet"-style graphics. And give them credit: Dodge City quickly became a hub of activity. It fairly exploded with interesting people and ideas.
Dodge's success of course made Rex all the more confident that pumping things out fast was the way to go. Unfortunately, the security at Dodge City was pretty poor… or maybe barely existent. I think the programmers wanted to add security to it, but security is difficult and sometimes slow. Rex saw no payoff in it, and he was the one paying them. He'd give security some lip service when enough people complained, but not more than that, and Dodge's security never improved very much.
Then Rex ordered his guys to build a fast, cheap financial system. In other words, he was putting together an almost fully insecure version of what Orlin was trying so hard to build right. That sent Orlin over the edge.
But in fairness to wild Rex, it must be said that his system was interesting. Not only did he make it possible to buy and sell shares of our project and other things, but he allowed both buyers and sellers to see the live order book. That's a very useful trading tool and one that simply isn't seen by 99% of the people who buy stocks and bonds.
Here's a very simple example of what one of the pages might have looked like (I have no screenshots or archives):
Buy 2000 @ 3.00
Buy 440 @ 3.25
Buy 300 @ 3.50
Buy 210 @ 3.65
Buy 55 @ 3.90
Last Trade 4.02
Sell 21 @ 4.25
Sell 80 @ 4.95
Sell 199 @ 5.25
Sell 2040 @ 6.00
Sell 4,220 @ 8.00
Viewing the order book, you can place your buy and sell positions intelligently. It's actually a very powerful tool, and most of us had never seen it before.
But as I say, Orlin was seriously (and understandably) angry. Making it worse was the fact that people flocked to Rex's system. It was easy and it worked… and in many minds, all that security stuff was a downer anyway. Except that this system, if it grew to any significant size, would quickly have become a target-rich environment for money laundering "avengers" worldwide. People would be ruined over it, but not instantly… a time lag would keep people coming in.
And so, Orlin had no real choice but to get away from Rex as quickly as possible. He was looking bad merely by association.
And so, in October 2001 or thereabout, Orlin bought his part of the project from Rex. Properly he bought it from the trust, but Rex had taken control of the trust by that point. (The trustee was his direct employee and did as he was told.) And so, in reality, Orlin bought his work back from Rex.
And again it was Bob who made this happen. He felt that it was a major victory, and I'm quite sure he was right. It was probably his finest hour.
And with that, Orlin's Digital Monetary Trust (DMT) project was free and could complete its work separate from Rex's mayhem.
This separation, however, was of serious concern to the people who had donated money to the project. Orlin, the driving genius, was gone, along with his work. And while he kept his mouth shut publicly, there was no escaping the fact that he had pulled out. Orlin had a personal devotion to the people who funded the project of course, but not everyone upholds such things.
And so, Rex had no real choice but to allow the project's founders to appoint a real board of directors. The new chairman of the board was a very competent, older engineer, whom I'll call "Sam." I liked Sam a lot. He did his job seriously and professionally, visiting the project for a few days at a time, then flying back home.
Sam, to his credit, kept things moving forward and did his best to curb Rex. All the donors trusted Sam, and if he had come out and called Rex a thief, the fallout would have been catastrophic.
Curbing Rex, however, was a difficult job, especially when Sam wasn't there.
In Sam's absence (as best I recall), Rex started playing around on the Dodge City forum. He had no less than six nyms (identities) that he controlled, and he started promoting himself and his products with them. The people on the forums, however, were often highly intelligent, and they put the pieces together pretty quickly. Rex's games weren't criminally bad, but neither were they a show of good faith.
So, we had Rex delivering operable but full-of-holes systems, and Orlin's group, supposedly producing the real thing, withdrawing into their shell. They fell almost totally silent.
But a situation that sounds ominous as I summarize it here certainly didn't seem like it at the time. A new visitor to Dodge City would find the best new ideas, the smartest people, and endless action. You want to buy and sell on a digital stock exchange… even futures contracts? Well, come right aboard… here it is! You could buy, sell, and trade, and even wire dollars in and out of the system. And it all worked! I can't blame people for jumping in with both feet.
Those of us who knew the inside advised others not to trust Dodge City for anything serious, but it was hard to do on the forum, not only because Rex would defend his systems, but because everyone was having so much fun and they didn't want it to stop. Remember that this was going on in a completely dry environment. There was no Bitcoin, no exchanges, no Tor, and Alta Vista was our search engine. There was no BitTorrent either; this was the era of Napster.
On top of that, lots of people who knew were hesitant to say much publicly, because Rex was personally paying nearly everyone involved. Little by little, however, the truth of the situation was slipping out.
This was not a sustainable situation.
To be Continued…