Who is Gaper?
I want to make it extremely clear as to why I am even doing this in the first place.
My family and I immigrated to the US from Bosnia when I was very young. We mostly came here for economic opportunity and a better life. Growing up, my parents were so busy working to provide for our family that I hadn’t seen them that often. My dad drove a truck, so he was only home on the weekend, and my mother worked the night shift. I remember one time my mom was telling me how hard it was back then, how she was so sick of being so broke that she would start to cry. I was basically home alone from the time I was 7 onward. They had got me a computer around this age, it was an e-Machine and it changed everything for me. It was a whole new world, and I fell in love with everything about it. The internet, the games, myspace, customizing my desktop, all of it. I was literally on Yahoo Answers googling and answering questions I knew nothing about when I was like 11 because I enjoyed it. I was very fortunate to have parents who worked hard enough to be able to even afford a computer back then.
At about 14 I really got into this game called Minecraft. I had made a couple internet friends at the time through games like Counter Strike and Runescape. They were the same ones who got me hooked in Minecraft. Man…that first time playing that game was magical. It was something I will never forget and I hope my kids can feel the same amazement the first time I ever played that game. I instantly fell in love. I remember we would all get on Teamspeak or Ventrilo just to hang out and play. I would always be the one who would set up the Hamachi server to get the LAN game running because nobody knew how to port-forward (nostalgia intensifies). I then would start to make mods (my first time programming really) and put them up for download on PlanetMinecraft. I had put an ad.fly link to the download and I was able to make like $40 from all the downloads. One of my friends was telling me to pay for hosting for a server for us all. So, with that money I bought a hosted server for 1 month. It was like $30 which was huge for me because internet money was more valuable when all you had was a PayPal and no credit card or bank account. This decision ended up starting a 2 year long business for me.
We eventually took that server public and people started joining. People starting joining and playing every single day and they also started donating for ranks and to keep the server up. I was this 15 year old server owner with no bank account making around $2–4k a month. I had never seen that much money in my life. I coded the latest and greatest plugins at the time. We took the server from a $30/month server on a shared host, to a dedicated server that was only accessible via an SSH terminal. I had learned everything about servers and how to run software and eventually how to get our Minecraft server running on it. It cost something outrageous to me at the time, like $250 a month. Looking back it still amazes me that I was able to figure all that out at 14–15. Eventually, less people kept showing up and I was getting older. The server died down and eventually closed. I was 16 and I really didn’t know what I had nor did I have the ability to continue to grow. After that I got recruited by a family friend to work at the local computer plant as an engineering assistant. Which is where I was able to source parts for the first Chiptos sculpture.
That whole experience showed me so much. Most importantly, how HARD it is to be successful and grow something. I didn’t realize this until years after of failing to be successful and make money with other things online. Sometimes I feel that if I was more mature at the time I would have been able to build a long-term business out of it. I reflect on that experience a lot and how much fun I had throughout the whole process and how I never for once really cared about making money. I had come to the conclusion that once I found something I LOVED to do AND I was making money, to NEVER let that thing go. 4Ao68KfS
I also come from the typical immigrant culture of “you better grow up to become a doctor” or whatever they thought was practical. I told my parents sure and I jumped through the hoops of school, got a full-ride to college and got my diploma in Finance, but deep down I always knew I was destined for something more. I never stressed getting a job or landing an internship or trying to start a career in some long standing industry. Truthfully, it all made me pretty depressed inside, to think that was it and that now it’s time to work a job and buy a house and a new car and move up in my company and…It just wasn’t for me. A lot of my creative and artistic friends felt the same way and I started to feel inside that I was born to create. I was always betting on my ability to succeed and make the most out of any environment I was placed in. Thats why I went all in to Chiptos and why I built that first sculpture and why NFT’s drew me in so much. It was a way to create something bigger than myself and to express myself at the same time.
I started Chiptos with the physical sculptures and eventually teamed up with one of the greatest 3D artists in the space, @camtaylorart. He was the brains behind the 512 Chiptos and our v2 line. Since then I have settled into the developer role for the project. I have been programming since I was 15 and have been working with Solidity for the past 6 months.
Chiptos for me is a representation of my life. I love computers and technology and what it has allowed me to create for myself and my family and how much it has opened my eyes to the world around me. I look at the Chiptos we’ve created and it brings me back to that moment I had as a kid staring at the Windows XP background and googling different images of anything I could think of to change it into my desktop background. It reminds me of my first time playing Runescape, and trying to use Cheat Engine to hack gold. It takes me back to the first PC I ever built. It reminds me of how far I’ve come and how far my family has come and all the sacrifices they’ve made to give me this opportunity. It reminds me to never stop believing in myself. I’m building Chiptos for all the people who had computers as an escape, for the people people who discovered a whole new world through the internet, for the people who appreciate effort and high quality art, for my parents and their sacrifice, and to anyone who has ever doubted themselves. The art is a way of reminding myself every single day and hopefully it can be a daily reminder to you of how technology has changed your life and what it means to you.
Thank you to everyone who has made it this far, I love you all really. PEACE!