This bibliography was originally created in 2004 to collect together all the academic material concerning the demo culture. At the moment this audiovisual subculture is relatively little known and only a few large-scale studies have been conducted on it. By collecting the various bits and pieces together we’re trying to build a big picture of what’s been done and by whom. Any additions and corrections are welcome. Especially references to foreign theses and articles are hard to find.
Some of the online articles and other material may be inaccessible these days and, therefore, we have downloaded and archived many of the items in the bibliography during the years. Feel free to contact us if you need help in finding material.
Publications in Finnish
Faler, Matti (2001): Johdatus demosceneen. In Sihvonen, Tanja (ed.): Sähköä, Säpinää, Wapinaa: Risteilyjä teknologian kulttuurihistoriassa. Turku: Turun yliopiston historian laitoksen julkaisuja nr. 59, pp. 7–23.
An Introduction to Demoscene. A student work for a University of Turku course whose papers got published. A clear and well argued introduction that makes a comparison between the demoscene and graffiti scene. Short extracts of demoscene peoples’ speech are also analyzed. Sähköä, Säpinää, Wapinaa could be available in technologically oriented libraries Finland-wide. There is one copy at the main library of Helsinki University of Technology.
Haavisto, Maija (2001): Diskmagit haastavat lukijan. Enter 7/2001, p. 72.
Diskmags challenge the reader. An introduction to disk magazines. Apparently aimed for non-scene people but still contains some slang that requires previous knowledge on the culture.
Heikkilä, Ville-Matias (2013): Miksi demot ovat niin tympeitä? Skrolli 2013.2, pp. 14–17.
An article on demos by Ville-Matias “Viznut” Heikkilä, published in the Finnish Skrolli magazine. The main theme is how and why demos are so hard to understand for outsiders. Now available online, too: http://www.skrolli.fi/miksi-demot-ovat-niin-tympeitä
Heikkilä, Ville-Matias (2014): Käsittämättömät koodirivit musiikkina: bytebeat ja demoskenen tekninen kokeellisuus. WiderScreen 1–2/2014.
The article discusses sound synthesis using short lines of code, so-called bytebeat. The paper could be described as a thick description of the collective experimentation through which bytebeat music emerged and vanished due to scene members’ enthusiasm. Online here.
Hirvonen, Mikko (2010): BBS-harrastajat 1990-luvun tietoverkkokulttuurin murrosvaiheessa – näkökulmia Internetin kulttuuriseen omaksumiseen. Turun yliopisto (University of Turku).
Hirvonen’s master’s thesis is mostly about the relationship of BBS (Bulletin Board System) and Internet cultures in the 1990s, but there is also a section (4.2) dealing with subcultures and the demoscene. There are few studies on the BBS culture, so the thesis can be considered a pioneering piece of work.
Inkinen, Sam; Salmi, Markku (1996): Media aseena ja työkaluna – hakkereita, teknohippejä ja koneromantiikkaa uuden median verkoissa. In Tarkka, Minna; Hintikka, Kari A.; Mäkelä, Asko (eds.): Johdatus uuteen mediaan. Edita, pp. 90–91.
Media as a weapon and a tool. In this article there’s one-page overview of the demoscene. Demos are presented in the context of special technical subcultures.
Karaiste, Mikko (2008): Amigaskene, alakulttuuri tietokoneen puitteissa: kuvauksia alakulttuurin ja teknologioiden yhteenkietoutumisesta. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän yliopisto (University of Jyväskylä).
Somehow this MA thesis managed to escape our radar until 2013. In his thesis Karaiste deals with various phenomena related to the Amiga scene. The theoretical framework is based on actor–network theory and different definitions of a subculture. Karaiste uses ethnography as his main research method. All in all, this is a rather academic take on demos, and there are many insightful observations – the text seems a bit unfinished at places, though. Available online here: https://jyx.jyu.fi/dspace/handle/123456789/38191.
Karila, Walter (2013): Pulppuavan saundin kovassa ytimessä: Commodore 64 -kulttuurin symbolinen rakentuminen Lemon64-internetsivuston keskusteluforumilla. Turku: Turun yliopisto (University of Turku).
In his MA thesis Karila describes and analyzes the discussion threads of the Lemon64 Internet forum, especially from the point of view of Commodore 64 chipmusic hobbyists. He approaches the topic through symbols, the units of meaning making that unite the community and separate it from others. Demos and crack intros receive some discussion, most notably in sections 2.1 and 2.2. The references are rather light at places: for example, Karila has based the demo-related sections mostly on Freax and skipped most chiptune-related studies. However, as a whole the thesis is an interesting peek into one hobbyist community and the writer has made some good observations along the way. Available here: http://www.doria.fi/handle/10024/93190.
Kauppinen, Jukka (2005): Demoskenen alakulttuurista nousee suomalaisen it:n kärki. Aamulehti 7.7.2005, p. 20.
The top names of Finnish IT industry rise from the demo scene subculture. Jukka O. Kauppinen is likely the most popular informant when it comes to Finnish microcomputer history research. Here he provides yet another overview of the scene. The tone of the article is quite admiring: the scene is seen as a pre-school for game companies and top positions in the IT industry — a view that appears in numerous other articles as well.
Kemppainen, Jaakko (2014): Flash-demoskene: Reaaliaikaisten verkkoanimaatioiden esiinnousu ja hiipuminen. WiderScreen 1–2/2014.
This paper, written by Jaakko Kemppainen, provides a chronological overview of the development, popularity, and eventual waning of the Flash scene, a marginal scene built around the Adobe Flash multimedia platform. Through his insiders’ views and active participation in the scene, Kemppainen gives intricate details about the technical possibilities of different Flash versions and how those were utilized in graphics and sound programming by demoscene members. Online here.
Kurki, Riikka (2002): WE ARE! Tutkimus postmodernista identiteetistä sukupuolittuneissa yhteisöissä. Lahti: Lahden ammattikorkeakoulu (Lahti Polytechnic).
A final thesis about postmodern identity in the gender role communities. Draws a comparative analysis between the demoscene and the decoscene, a girls’ community that swaps decorative friendshipbooks.
Kurki, Visa (2008): Kräkkerikulttuurissa kunnia voittaa kahisevan. Turun ylioppilaslehti 29.2.2008.
A short interview of researcher Jukka Vuorinen, where he talks about cracking and how it relates to modern day phenomena. Available online.
Lotvonen, Heikki (2015): Amiga ASCII -taide. Espoo: Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.
As the name suggests, this BA thesis is about the creative use of ASCII and in particular the iconic Topaz font of the Amiga. First there’s a bit of context – what is text art in the first place – after which Lotvonen discusses some specific subgenres, such as BBS graphics and ASCII art collections. There is a production part, too, where Lotvonen creates text art on his own and reflects on the medium. The demoscene is considered as an umbrella under which Amiga ASCII art belongs. Available online here: https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/handle/123456789/16290
Lönnblad, Hanna (1997): Kahden tietokonedemon vertaileva analyysi. Musiikin Suunta (Musical Currents), 19(2), pp. 28–34.
A Comparative Analysis of Two Computer Demos, an article that resembles Lönnblad’s (1998) final thesis. Available online at http://elektra.helsinki.fi/se/m/0780-0703/19/2/kahdenti.pdf, but you can only open the file at the University of Helsinki.
Lönnblad, Hanna (1998): Tietokonedemot kulttuurina ja musiikin harrastuksen muotona. Helsinki: Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki).
Computer Demos as Culture and Form of Musical Hobby. A master’s thesis for the Department of Musicology at the University of Helsinki. Discusses demoscene and tracker music in general, plus compares two contemporary demo soundtracks in detail. Used to be offline for some years, but now it’s online again right here.
Mutta, Antti (2013): Saudade-demoteoksen suunnittelu ja toteutus. Tampere: Satakunnan ammattikorkeakoulu (Satakunta Polytechnic).
Antti “Shrine” Mutta’s BA thesis, where he descibes the design and implementation of a demo called Saudade, which competed at Revision’13. Following a normal outline, Mutta first describes the scene, then moves on to discuss the production itself, and finally concludes with observations on the process. The creation of a single demo has hardly ever been documented this carefully, so the thesis could be a useful read for someone who wants to know how demos are made in practice. Available here: https://publications.theseus.fi/handle/10024/61860.
Reunanen, Markku (2013): Neljän kilotavun taide. WiderScreen 2–3/2013.
An article dealing with 4k intros, a topic that hasn’t received much attention from demoscene researchers so far. First there’s an overview of what space-limited intros are in the first place, after which they are discussed from three different perspectives: tiny effects, tiny sound and the role of compression. Part of the discussion is based on first-hand experiences obtained in 2003–2005, when the author, together with Antti Silvast, created three 4k intros for Linux. Available here: http://widerscreen.fi/numerot/2013-2-3/neljan-kilotavun-taide/.
Roininen, Tarja (1998): Demoscene: että tietyt aineettomat arvot ja tavat yhdistävät joukkoa ihmisiä. Lapin yliopisto (University of Lapland).
Demoscene – That Certain Immaterial Values and Customs Unite a Group of People. A final thesis for the Audiovisual Media Culture programme in University of Lapland. Roininen has a peculiar starting point for her work: she is the mother of a demo scener who got interested in her son’s hobby. The thesis includes a rather comprehensive overview of the scene as well as some analysis on the social side of things. All things considered, Roininen manages to make several exact observations on the scene as an “outsider” but does not get very far from the statements of the informants.
Saarikoski, Petri (2001a): Valtavirtaa vastaan – Demoscene suomalaisen kotimikroilun historiassa. Lähikuva 3/2001, pp. 54–65.
Against the Mainstream – Demoscene in the History of Finnish Home Computing. A brief article that relates the demoscene to studies of digital art, youth culture, hacker ethics and domestification of home computers. Includes plenty of interesting references most of which we’ve made available here. Released in the audiovisual culture journal Lähikuva, which should be available in Finnish libraries; we found ours in the Social Science Library of the University of Helsinki.
Saarikoski, Petri (2001b): Pioneerien leluista kulutuselektroniikaksi. Suomalainen kotimikroharrastus tietotekniikan murroksessa 1980-luvun alusta 1990-luvun puoliväliin. Turku: Turun yliopisto (University of Turku).
From Pioneers’ Toys to Consumer Electronics, the licentiate thesis of Petri Saarikoski. Concerns the Finnish home computer hobby from the early 80’s to mid 90’s. This is not altogether about the scene, but section 9, “Against the mainstream” and subsection 10.2, “computer enthousiasts and sub-cultures” definitely are. Section 6, “The outlaws of the computer world” deals with crackers and thus provides additional information on the roots of the Finnish scene. A local archival copy available here.
Saarikoski, Petri (2004): Koneen lumo. Mikrotietokoneharrastus Suomessa 1970-luvulta 1990-luvun puoliväliin. Turku: Turun yliopisto (University of Turku).
The Lure of the Machine. Computer hobbyism in Finland from the 1970s to mid-1990s. In his PhD thesis Saarikoski presents the history of Finnish computer hobbyists as well as the relevant technical and social factors. Very likely a nostalgic read for people who were involved with home computers in the eighties. In addition to several references to the demo scene there’s even a whole section (21 pages) dealing with the subject.
Saarikoski, Petri; Suominen, Jaakko (2009): Pelinautintoja, ohjelmointiharrastusta ja liiketoimintaa. Tietokoneharrastuksen ja peliteollisuuden suhde Suomessa toisen maailmansodan jälkeen. In Suominen, Jaakko; Koskimaa, Raine; Mäyrä, Frans; Sotamaa, Olli (eds.): Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja 2009. Tampere: Tampereen yliopisto, pp. 16–33.
Gaming pleasures, programming and business. The relationship of computer hobby and game industry in Finland after the second world war. In their article Saarikoski and Suominen take a look at the history of computer games in Finland and the demoscene, especially in relation to the national game industry. Demoscene-based success stories such as Bloodhouse, Terramarque, Remedy and Bugbear get mentioned. The overviews of hobbyism, video/computer gaming and the scene place the contents in a wider historical and international context. The article is part of a yearbook and can be downloaded here: http://www.pelitutkimus.fi/vuosikirja-2009.
Tasajärvi, Lassi (2003a): Vain muutaman kilotavun tähden. AVEK 2/2003, pp. 38–40.
For the Sake of Couple of Kilobytes is an article written for a publication of The Finnish Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK). Includes a short history of the scene, endorses the demoskene.katastro.fi exhibition (2003) and introduces tracker software. Much resembles Tasajärvi et al (2004) and uses some similar text portions too.
Publications in English
Barbat, Nico (2005): You can’t do this on Xbox! SHizZLE – rumbling with 4 MHz. SCEEN #1, aug 2005, pp. 42–44.
An article about the demo SHizZLE for Pokémon Mini. Some background info on the device and an interview with p0p, one of the main developers behind the project.
Benjaminsson, Klas (2016): The Masters of Pixel Art. Volume 1: 5-bit to 8-bit colour depth images – Amiga & Atari & PC. Nicepixel Publications.
A large and well laid out collection of (mainly) demoscene pixel art. With this kind of books there’s always the question “Why these artists and pics?”, but the selection seems rather balanced, covering multiple countries and tens of authors instead of a skewed focus on a few own favorites. As the title suggests, the focus is on famous artists, so the collection is not representative of all scene art. The amount of logos is a bit of a surprise, and all in all, the works seem to represent the original side of the artists as opposed to their equally well-known Vallejo, Frazetta and Sorayama imitations. The images are properly scaled and the print quality is good, even though the optimal way to view them would, of course, be on a CRT. In addition to pictures there are short interviews of graphicians which shed light on their personal background and way of working. Book home page and image collection.
Borzyskowski, George (1996): The Hacker Demo Scene and Its Cultural Artifacts. Curtin University of Technology.
A study conducted for the School of Design at Curtin University of Technology, undertaken from 1992 to 1994. Probably the oldest, and since it has been available online for quite some time, the most referenced scholarly work about demoscene available. We’ve not discovered if this is a thesis, but it was at least presented in the Cybermind Conference 1996. Borzyskowski draws upon a heavy corpus of 765 demos for an analysis of this topic. You can read the work online at http://www.scheib.net/play/demos/what/borzyskowski/.
Brodersen Hansen, Nicolai; Toft Nørgård, Rikke; Halskov, Kim (2014): Crafting Code at the Demo-Scene. In Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems. ACM, pp. 35–38.
This short paper from DIS 2014 approaches demos from an unusual angle: they are considered as a digital craft. The authors have observed the workflow of a demo programmer at Revision 2013 and analyzed it through the concepts of craft engagement, craftmanship rhythm and craftsman expressivity. Available behind the ACM paywall here: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2598526.
Brodersen Hansen, Nicolai (2015): Motivating Digital Fabrication Processes — Learning from the Demoscene. In The Future of Making: Where the Industrial and Personal Fabrication Meet Position Papers.
A three-page position paper where demoscene activities are compared to personal fabrication. Available online here: https://projects.hci.sbg.ac.at/fabrication2015/wp-content/uploads/sites/29/2015/07/Hansen.pdf
Burger, Boris; Paulovic, Ondrej; Hasan, Milos (2002): Realtime Visualization Methods in the Demoscene. In Proceedings of the Central European Seminar on Computer Graphics 2002. Budmerice, Slovakia, pp. 205–218.
Members of the demo group Peon present the techniques behind their three demos, Dream, Expiration and Symbolic Expression. In addition they provide a brief overview of the demo scene and its development during the years. Available online: http://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/studentwork/CESCG/CESCG-2002/BBurger/
Carlsson, Anders (2008): Chip Music: Low-tech Data Music Sharing. In Collins, Karen (ed.): From Pac-Man to Pop Music. Ashgate, pp. 153–162.
An article about chip music published in a book. First there is an introduction to the scene itself and chip music and finally the writer provides some observations on the current state of the genre. Some parts of the text reach outside the mere demoscene and describe the phenomenon in relation to other underground music as an example. Like Tasajärvi Carlsson juxtaposes chip tunes and open source and while there is truth to it from a technical point-of-view one can also ask whether this openness was originally intentional or just a byproduct of the medium.
Carlsson, Anders (2009): The Forgotten Pioneers of Creative Hacking and Social Networking – Introducing the Demoscene. In Cubitt, Sean & Thomas, Paul (eds.): Re:live: Media Art Histories 2009 Conference Proceedings. University of Melbourne & Victorian College of the Arts and Music, pp. 16–20.
An introductory paper that explores the scene from various perspectives, including networks, the scene’s illegal heritage, early history, copyright, aesthetics, artifacts and social stratification. In the conclusion, the impact of Internet to the scene is also briefly discussed. The paper is available online in the conference proceedings.
Carlsson, Anders (2010): Power Users and Retro Puppets – A Critical Study of the Methods and Motivations in Chipmusic. Lund: Lund University.
In his insightful master’s thesis, Carlsson first outlines the history and motivation behind chiptunes – music that is done using (or at least resembles) the characteristic sound chips of early home computers and game consoles. The main part of the study is based on the results of a survey conducted among active chiptune musicians. Even though demos are not the main topic of the thesis, there are numeours references and comparisons to the demoscene throughout the study. Available online here: http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/lup/publication/1662548
Chmelik, David (2014): The Demoscene. 2600: The Hacker Quarterly, fall 2014.
An introduction to the basic concepts and terminology of the demoscene. Ends rather exceptionally with actual code that displays a demo effect. Downloadable in different formats here. The article is based on Chmelik’s earlier coursework.
Cox, Alex (2009): Past, present and future of the demoscene. PC Plus, no. 283.
Another overview of the scene with some insight to its past and future. Elevated by RGBA is used as an example of demo art and, additionally, we get to hear some comments from its programmer. The article can be read online here: http://www.techradar.com/news/world-of-tech/past-present-and-future-of-the-demoscene-616817
Cruz, Filipe (2005): Mobile mayhem. Demo platforms of the 21st century: cell phones. SCEEN #1, Aug 2005, pp. 52–56.
An introduction to demos on mobile phones and three interviews with people who have been involved with mobile demos. It should be noted that the article represents the situation of 2005 and before, after which the multimedia phones have seen significant changes.
Driscoll, Kevin; Diaz, Joshua (2009): Endless Loop: A Brief History of Chiptunes. Transformative Works and Cultures 2, 2009.
In this article Driscoll and Diaz provide an overview of the history of chiptunes and their current state (in 2009). There are short sections dedicated to the history of home computers, early sound chips, trackers and the demoscene. The latter half of the paper is dedicated to modern-day communities, such as Micromusic.net and various 8-bit cover bands. Available online here: http://journal.transformativeworks.com/index.php/twc/article/view/96/94
Hartmann, Doreen (2010): Computer Demos and the Demoscene: Artistic Subcultural Innovation in Real-Time. In Funke, Judith; Riekeles, Stefan; Broeckmann, Andreas (eds.): Proceedings of the 16th International Symposium of Electronic Art ISEA Ruhr 2010. Berlin: Revolver Publishing 2010, pp. 124–126.
A three-page introduction to the demoscene, written from a media art perspective. This is actually the abstract of a larger presentation given at ISEA Ruhr 2010. Available as pdf on the conference site: http://www.isea2010ruhr.org/files/redaktion/pdf/isea2010_proceedings_p11_hartmann.pdf
Hartmann, Doreen (2014): Animation in the Demoscene. From Obfuscation to Category (Or: How to Demonstrate Skills without Adhering to the Real-Time Principle). WiderScreen 1–2/2014.
In this paper, Hartmann discusses various meanings of the term “animation” and how the demoscene has seen its role over the years. She shows how the relationship between real-time and offline calculated animations is, in fact, significantly more complex than it initially appears, and that the opinions and practices concerning animation are subject to considerable change. Online here.
Hastik, Canan; Steinmetz, Arnd (2012a): Demoscene Artists and Community. In Bours, Patrick; Humm, Bernhard; Loew, Robert; Stengel, Ingo; Walsh, Paul (eds.): Proceedings of CERC 2012, pp. 43–48.
A short paper dealing with the scene from social and artifact perspectives. Not much can be said in just six pages, but the authors seem to be aware of the existing studies and again offer a bit different view on the topic. Available online here: http://canan.hastik.de/science/cerc2012.pdf
Hastik, Canan; Steinmetz, Arnd (2012b): Computer Technology — A Tool in the Hand of the Artist? In Proceedings of Euromedia 2012, pp. 35–38.
A short paper that connects the demoscene to the history of computer art. Available online here: http://canan.hastik.de/science/Euromedia2012.pdf
Hastik, Canan; Steinmetz, Arnd; Thull, Bernhard (2013a): Ontology-Based Framework for Real-Time Audiovisual Art. IFLA World Library and Information Congress. The Hague: IFLA.
A conference paper presented at the IFLA WLIC 2013 conference held in Singapore. The authors propose a preliminary ontology for documenting multimedia art, and the demoscene is used as a case example where the ontology is applied. One of the few works where demos and related concepts are discussed this systematically. Available in English, Spanish and Chinese: http://library.ifla.org/87/
Hastik, Canan (2013b): Preventing Digital Subcultures from becoming Victims of the Technological Change. In CERC 2013 Proceedings. Cork Institute of Technology, pp. 167–176.
Another take on the ontology that Hastik has been developing during the last couple of years. In this paper she presents a case study where a number of demos were collected and analyzed to facilitate their systematic long-term preservation. One of the most important observations is how several factors ranging from disappearing file servers to scattered incompatible archives hinder the efforts. The proceedings are available here: http://cerc.cit.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Proceedings.pdf
Hastik, Canan (2014): Demo Age: New Views. WiderScreen 1–2/2014.
In her study, Hastik has applied tools and methods from cultural analytics to demos in order to reveal their hidden patterns, such as repetition, rhythm and coloring. The article features several interesting visualizations that offer new perspective to demoscene productions, and connects them to the research traditions of cinema and media studies. Online here.
Huuskonen, Juha (2004): The Art of Defining Software Culture: The Benevolent Dictators of the Read_me Festival. Framework 2/2004, FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange.
In his article Huuskonen brings up the connection between VJ culture, demo scene and underground media art. He even dares to mention that such communities are often closed and self-sufficient: something that’s overlooked in most articles written about the scene.
Jørgensen, Kristine; Sandqvist, Ulf; Sotamaa, Olli (2015): From Hobbyists to Entrepreneurs – On the Formation of the Nordic Game Industry. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies (preprint).
This article discusses the origins of Nordic game companies through examples from three countries. The authors emphasize the subcultural roots of the companies – the demoscene in particular, yet at the same time they avoid the pitfall of portraying the scene as a mere preschool for the industry. Available behind the Sage paywall here: http://con.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/12/01/1354856515617853.abstract
Kauppinen, Topi (2011): Cult of Real-time Image – Understanding the Hardcore. Pori: Aalto University School of Art and Design.
An MA thesis dealing with what Kauppinen calls “The Cult of Real-time”. An insightful study on real-time computer graphics and its meaning to a few technically-oriented communities such as the demoscene (Section 7.1) and overclockers. The thesis could be useful as an easy-to-follow initiation to contemporary computer graphics. Available here: http://pixelcounter.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/cult_of_real-time_image_topi_kauppinen_2011.pdf
Lysloff, Rene (2003): Musical Life in Softcity: An Internet Ethnography. In Lysloff, Rene and Gay, Leslie (eds.): Music and technoculture. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, pp. 23–63.
A book chapter on the MOD music scene, written from the vantage point of theories of community. Drawing upon an “online ethnography“, the author covers status competition in the MOD community, the relationship between MOD producers and MOD fans, the social status of MOD “ripping” (i.e. stealing) and the social transformation that stemmed from the introduction of the MP3 file format. While the MOD music scene is the sole focus of the chapter, many of its points are plausible in relation to the demoscene as well. Available through this link in Google Books.
Maher, Jimmy (2012): The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga. MIT Press.
A recent addition to the MIT Press’ Platform Studies series, The Future Was Here discusses the history, hardware and software of the Commodore Amiga. There is a complete chapter dedicated to the activities of the demo and the cracker scenes with a few well-known examples like Red Sector Megademo, State of the Art and Protracker (pp. 171–205). Other topics, such as the discussion of the hardware capabilities and the chapter on Deluxe Paint, might be useful for understanding the essence of classic Amiga demos and their characteristic look.
Marecki, Piotr (2015): Textual Demoscene. TROPE 15-01. The Trope Tank.
A brief technical report that deals with the role of text in various Polish demoscene productions. An interesting contribution because of its local histories and textual approach, even though few connections are made to already existing research on the scene or Polish computer culture. Available here: http://nickm.com/trope_tank/TROPE-15-01.pdf
Marisca, Eduardo (2013): The Networks Are Out There: Building Cultural and Economic Resilience Through Informal Communities of Practice. Paper presented at the Collaborative Innovation Networks COINs13, Santiago de Chile, 13 August 2013. http://arxiv.org/abs/1308.1284.
This paper presents the story of Twin Eagles Group, a C64 cracking/demo group from Lima, Peru, as an example of informal social and economic networks in the context of developing economies. Analysing the group’s cracking/importing ventures in the late 1980s and early 1990s and its successful branching out into game development up to the early 2000s, Marisca sees the group as a “‘prototyping space’ for innovation” that presents a countercurrent to the “race to the bottom” developing economies usually have to undertake in the course of their integration into the world market. The social practices and the economic impact of such networks, however, prove hard to get hold of, due to its practices taking place “outside the radar of economic production”.
Menotti, Gabriel (2009): Executable Cinema: Demos, Screensavers and Videogames as Audiovisual Formats. In Cubitt, Sean & Thomas, Paul (eds.): Re:live: Media Art Histories 2009 Conference Proceedings. University of Melbourne & Victorian College of the Arts and Music, pp. 109–113.
Somewhat philosophical short paper where Menotti compares demos (“demoscene videos”), video games and screensavers, calling them “executable cinema”. Kind of hard to say what’s the main point – perhaps the rise of real-time generated visuals that are similar to films on the surface but different on the inside. Demos are skipped quickly with several claims but no references to existing research. The paper is available online.
Nordli, Hege (2003a): The Gathering – Computer Parties as Means for Gender Inclusion. IST-2000-26329 SIGIS, Deliverable Number: D04, 2003.
A sociological study of gender inclusion strategies, conducted at three Gathering parties. The empirical material is a combination of participant observations and interviews. The paper is a part of the dissertation of Nordli (2003b). Available online at http://www.rcss.ed.ac.uk/sigis/public/displaydoc/full/D04_2.01_NTNU1 after registration.
Nordli, Hege (2003b): The Net is not Enough: Searching for the Female Hacker. Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
A doctoral dissertation for the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Nordli studied the essence of female computer enthousiasts for a few years and then documented her findings in this dissertation. Not everything in it concerns demo scene, but there’s a whole chapter on computer parties for example. She divides the female enthousiasts to three sub-groups: IRC-babes, professionals and geek.grrls that all have their own characteristics. Demo scene has traditionally been a male hobby and here you can find several contributing factors why it is so. On the whole Nordli’s work can be seen as a continuation of older hacker studies conducted by Sherry Turkle and Steven Levy.
Pappalardo, Davide (2004): The Scene and Its Art. University of Catania.
A part of a larger research originally conducted in Italian and then translated to English. First a short introduction to demoscene and then a collection of several influential demos annotated. The style is surprisingly subjective considering it’s a scientific publication.
Paul, Leonard J. (2012): Text-Mode and the Live PETSCII Animations of Raquel Meyers – Finding New Meaning through Live Interaction. Leonardo Electronic Almanac, 19(3), pp. 108–123.
This popular article consists of two main parts: first there’s a description of Raquel Meyers’s (probably better known as AcidT* in the demoscene circles) live character-based performances, and next an interview with her. The performances – given together with Anders “Goto80” Carlsson – are described in a lot of detail, and the interview brings up a few interesting points, such as the role of liberty and immediacy offered by a supposedly obsolete computer, the Commodore 64. Available online here: http://ojs.gold.ac.uk/index.php/lea/article/view/71
Peeters, Stijn (2013): The Beauty of the Byte. NEWMEDIA_studies 7, pp. 133–151.
Peeters’ essay, written for a course at the University of Utrecht and later published in their NEWMEDIA_studies magazine, deals with different types of intros from both an aesthetic and a technical point of view. Not much has been written on the topic before this. Available online here: http://www.newmediastudies.nl/magazine/beauty-byte.
Polgar, Tamas (2005): Freax. The brief history of the demoscene. Volume 1. CSW Verlag.
The large-scale scene history book by Tomcat/Madwizards. His research started already in 1996 and culminated in this book. The first volume contains the history of Commodore 64 and Amiga scenes. In the book you’ll find numerous screen shots, interviews and analysis of important productions and parties. It is especially refreshing to get a glance of the East European scene since it’s often been omitted in other histories. To fully comprehend the book you’re required to have some prior knowledge of the demo culture already, which was the original goal as well: from sceners to sceners. From a scientific point of view there’s a slight problem with the prosaic style since Polgar seldom mentions his sources — occasionally it’s hard to distinguish between actual events and scene gossip. Volume 2 about the PC and alternative scenes was planned for 2007, but it’s uncertain whether it will ever come out.
Polymeropoulou, Marilou (2014): Chipmusic, Fakebit and the Discourse of Authenticity in the Chipscene. WiderScreen 1–2/2014.
Starting from anthropological and ethnomusicological perspectives on music and its “authenticity”, the article draws on long-term online and offline ethnography among the members of the chipscene. The specific focus is on the musical genre of fakebit: music that uses modern equipment to imitate the musical aesthetics of retro sound chips. The paper outlines three generations of chipmusicians that have distinct outlooks on the phenomena of fakebit and the notion of authenticity in chip music. Demoscene is linked, in particular, to the first generation that values real hardware the most. Online here.
Ratliff, Brendan (2007). Why Did Freely Shared, Tracked Music in the 1990’s Computer Demoscene Survive the Arrival of the MP3 Age? Newcastle upon Tyne: University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The MA thesis by Brendan Ratliff, known as a demoscene musician by the handle “Syphus”, was defended in 2007 at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and deals with “tracked” music within the demoscene. After offering a concise history of music in the early cracking- and demoscene, Ratliff gives detailed technical insight into the technologies of music tracking and the reasons why this technology fell onto fertile ground in the demoscene, such as the music modules’ “open source”-like character, their limited filesize, and their ability to incorporate written messages from the composers. Ratliff also touches upon the question of whether demoscene music developed a particular style, and provides the reader with a technology-based theory of how and why chiptune style came into being in sample-based music modules after the era of actual soundchip-generated music. He goes on to follow the history of tracked music beyond the Amiga, and its contested survival after the introduction of the MP3 file format and its increasing popularity within the demo- and netlabel scenes. All in all, despite its relatively limited engagement with research literature, Ratliff’s thesis is an extraordinarily well-written introduction into 1980s’ and 1990s’ demoscene music, featuring some insightful analysis and easily standing the test of time. The thesis is available online here, as well as the author’s comments on it eight years later.
Reunanen, Markku; Silvast, Antti (2009): Demoscene Platforms: A Case Study on the Adoption of Home Computers. In Impagliazzo, John; Järvi, Timo; Paju, Petri (eds.): History of Nordic Computing 2. Springer, pp. 289–301.
We’re not in any position to comment on the quality of this publication, so let’s just go through the contents. The paper deals with the processes that took place in the demoscene when it moved from a hardware/software platform to another, and the discussions surrounding the migrations. The study is based on contemporary disk magazines such as R.A.W. and Usenet newsgroups such as comp.sys.ibm.pc.demos. Perhaps the most important findings are the self-reflective nature of the community, and that the demoscene is by no means the first group of people to endorse new platforms, even if its members are otherwise proficient with new technology. Article is available through SpringerLink. A local copy can be downloaded here.
Reunanen, Markku (2010): Computer Demos – What Makes Them Tick? Helsinki: Aalto University School of Science and Technology.
This licentiate thesis focuses on the practices and artifacts of the demoscene. First there is an overview of the community, then a taxonomy of the different artifacts produced by the scene and finally a chapter on the relationship of different hardware generations to demos. The study is based on disk magazines, community websites, newsgroups discussions and a content analysis of 117 demos starting from the mid 1980s. Available online here.
Reunanen, Markku (2014a): Four Kilobyte Art. WiderScreen 1–2/2014.
Markku’s Neljän kilotavun taide, originally from WiderScreen 2–3/2013, republished in English. Available online here.
Reunanen, Markku (2014b): How Those Crackers Became Us Demosceners. WiderScreen 1–2/2014.
The story about how the demoscene was born out of the cracker/pirate scene has been repeated by several authors ranging from sceners themselves to researchers. In this article, Reunanen revisits the canonical story and brings up details and even contradictions that have been lost over the years. The research material consists of diskmag articles, other contemporary texts, and six interviews with Commodore 64 pioneers. It turns out that the separation of the two scenes was not quite as clear-cut or simple as often presented. Online here.
Reunanen, Markku; Wasiak, Patryk; Botz, Daniel (2015): Crack Intros: Piracy, Creativity, and Communication. International Journal of Communication, 9(1), pp. 798–817.
An article that discusses crack intros from three different perspectives: history, aesthetics and communication. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, crack intros are typically animated screens that pirates couple with cracked (i.e. copy protection removed) software – most often games. Their popularity peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but they didn’t completely disappear even after that. The article sheds light to the relatively little-known world of early software piracy and demonstrates how the complex underground (“illegal”) activities were shaped by factors such as humor, networking, competition and creativity. Online here.
Reunanen, Markku (2017): Times of Change in the Demoscene: A Creative Community and Its Relationship with Technology. University of Turku.
By our calculations the second ever PhD thesis solely on demos and the demoscene. The thesis consists of an introduction and five research articles where Reunanen studies the demoscene from three different perspectives: community, artifacts and relationship with technology. Continuing on his licentiate thesis from 2010, he now looks into specific topics in detail, rather than trying to provide a comprehensive overview of all things scene. Download a full version with all the articles here.
Rickard, Jack (1993): Demos – Not at All What You Think. Boardwatch Magazine, Aug 1993, pp. 60–61.
Probably one of the earliest mentions of demos and the demoscene in a magazine. Available here as a plaintext file coupled with follow-ups from later issues.
Saarikoski, Petri; Suominen, Jaakko (2009): Computer Hobbyists and the Gaming Industry in Finland. IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 31(3), pp. 20–33.
Saarikoski and Suominen present the Finnish history of computer gaming and hobbyism starting from the 1950s. They discuss various game programmers, journalists and companies in relation to the contemporary developments. The demoscene is discussed in a separate section spanning two pages. The main point made in the article is the connection between the hobbyist circles and game companies, pretty much like in their related Finnish paper published in Pelitutkimuksen vuosikirja 2009.
Scheib, Vincent; Engell-Nielsen, Theo; Lehtinen, Saku; Haines, Eric; Taylor, Phil (2002): The Demo Scene. In ACM SIGGRAPH 2002 Conference Abstracts and Applications. ACM Press, pp. 96–97.
A short introduction to the demo scene published at the valued SIGGRAPH’02 conference. Mostly consisists of the bios of the authors. The article was part of the Demoscene Outreach Group activities.
Shatz, Phil (1993): Walkthroughs and Flybys CD. Waite Group Press.
A collection of various demo-related things on one CD, accompanied by a book. The great variety of contents can be somewhat confusing: in addition to demos you’ll find FLI animations and curious commercial demos. The book on the whole is very catalogue-like and there’s very little analysis on any of the topics presented. Suprisingly, Walkthroughs and Flybys was a small-scale bestseller with over 50000 copies sold.
Shatz, Phil (1994): Modeling the Dream CD. Walkthroughs and Flybys II. Waite Group Press.
A sequel to Shatz’s previous book and very similar in content. This time in addition to the demos and animations there is a chapter on 3D Studio.
Scholz, Alexander (2007): Iconoclash. Opium for the masses. SCEEN#2, 2007, pp. 50–56.
An article about the demogroup Andromeda Software Design (ASD). Presents the group, its history and some interesting background info on their best known demos.
Scholz, Alexander (2007): Teenyweenyfantastikum. A whole world in a 4 kilobyte nutshell. SCEEN#2, 2007, pp. 72–75.
An interview with Sebastian Gerlach (Minas/Calodox), the creator of numerous 4k intros.
Silvast, Antti; Reunanen, Markku (2014): Multiple Users, Diverse Users: Appropriation of Personal Computers by Demoscene Hackers. In Alberts, Gerard; Oldenziel, Ruth (eds.) (2014): Hacking Europe – From Computer Cultures to Demoscenes. London: Springer.
Hard to judge this one objectively, since we wrote it ourselves. Anyway, the book chapter deals with how the scene adopts new computers and how skills – or lack thereof – define a scene member’s status. The theoretical framework is based on Rogers’ diffusion of innovations theory and the concept of technological scripts.
Tasajärvi, Lassi (2003b): demoskene.katastro.fi — The Exhibition. Arsis 1/2003, p. 9.
A brief introduction to demo culture as a phenomenon plus an advertisement of the demo exhibition held in Kiasma. Local copy here: arsis_verkko_1_2003
Tasajärvi, Lassi (ed.); Stamnes, Bent; Schustin, Mikael (2004): Demoscene: the Art of Real-Time. Helsinki: Even Lake Studios & katastro.fi.
Declaring itself “the first book ever about the demoscene culture”, this book accompanies the Tasajärvi curated demoskene.katastro.fi exhibition (2003). Inside are an introduction to demo culture, a couple of interviews, discussion of tracker software and an article about the Gathering party. Also dubbed “the demoscene art book”, the demos explained and screenshots are the same as exhibited i.e. those of the audiovisual community katastro.fi. A description is available online at http://www.evenlakestudios.fi/books. The book is now available as e-book too, you can purchase it at http://www.demoscenebook.com/.
Tyni, Heikki; Sotamaa, Olli (2014): Assembling a Game Development Scene? Uncovering Finland’s Largest Demo Party. GAME 3/2014, pp. 109–119.
The connection between the Finnish game industry and demoscene is brought up again in this article by Heikki Tyni and Olli Sotamaa, where they take a critical look at the various meanings that the yearly Assembly party has had throughout its existence. One of the most visible themes is how a pure demoparty gradually turned into a largely game-oriented event. The primary research material of the study consists of contemporary newspaper articles and interviews with Finnish scene and game industry pioneers. Online here.
Victor, Tim (1994): Tomorrow’s Games Today: The Underground Demo Scene. Game Players PC Entertainment 6(6), pp. 30–32.
Another old overview dating as far back as 1994. Focuses solely on the PC demoscene of the time. There’s even a short interview with The Future Crew. Online here.
Vigh, David; Polgar, Tamas (2006): Freax Art Album. CSW Verlag.
Continuing the tradition of the original Freax this is a book from sceners to sceners. There’s very little text this time — the book mainly consists of scene art pictures ranging all the way from Commodore 64 disk covers to 24-bit PC graphics. Some knowledge on the underlying platforms and their limitations is necessary to truly comprehend the presented works. The selection of artists and images is naturally a highly delicate matter and you may find a hint of unavoidable nepotism here and there. Nevertheless, Freax Art Album is a worthy collection of images and serves as an interesting cross-section to the styles and themes of different eras.
Vuorinen, Jukka (2007): Ethical codes in the digital world: comparisons of the proprietary, the open/free and the cracker system. Ethics and Information Technology, 9(1), pp. 27–38.
In this sociological article Vuorinen discusses the differences between the ethical codes of crackers, the open source community and proprietary software companies, focusing particularly on how the codes have “differentiated” to become inconsummerable with one another. When Vuorinen talks about the scene it is the cracker scene he is referring to, demos are just briefly mentioned in a couple of paragraphs. Nevertheless, the practices of the cracking scene can easily be compared to those of the demo scene as well. Moreover, both demo people and crackers seem to face alike differences when put in relationship to the ethical codes of the open source community and sofware companies.
Wasiak, Patryk (2010): Computing behind the Iron Curtain: Social Impact of Home Computers in Polish People’s Republic. Working Paper 2010_08, Tensions of Europe/Inventing Europe.
In this article Patryk Wasiak gives the readers a peek behind the Iron Curtain and discusses how home computers were received in the communist Poland of the 1980s. Numerous restrictions hindered the spreading of computers and software, but in spite of that there was national interest in them, and also a community of enthusiastic hobbyists including crackers and demosceners. This is a working paper, so the content is not yet fully edited. Available online here: http://www.tensionsofeurope.eu/www/en/files/get/publications/WP_2010_08_Wasiak.pdf
Wasiak, Patryk (2012): ‘Illegal Guys’. A History of Digital Subcultures in Europe during the 1980s. Zeithistorische Forschungen/Studies in Contemporary History 2/2012.
‘Illegal Guys’ discusses the origins and early days of the cracker/warez scene from a youth cultural and subcultural perspective. Wasiak addresses topics such as the practices and social dynamics of that particular scene. In addition, several new details about early copy parties, (disk)mags and slang are brought up. All in all, highly useful background reading for demo researchers. Online: http://www.zeithistorische-forschungen.de/site/40209282/default.aspx
Wasiak, Patryk (2013): Computer Dealer Demos: Selling Home Computers with Bouncing Balls and Animated Logos. IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, 35(4), pp. 56–68.
This article deals with so-called dealer demos, which were audiovisually impressive pieces of software used in homecomputer marketing. Wasiak discusses the role of dealer demos and presents case examples from Commodore, Atari and Apple. Some of the dealer demos were made by demogroups, which creates an interesting between companies and the scene. An interesting read on a topic that has not received much – if any – attention before this. Available online at the IEEE site (paid access required for full text): http://www.computer.org/csdl/mags/an/2013/04/man2013040056-abs.html
Wasiak, Patryk (2014): “Amis and Euros.” Software Import and Contacts Between European and American Cracking Scenes. WiderScreen 1–2/2014.
Early trans-Atlantic trading and fixing of pirated Commodore 64 games is a little studied topic, absent from most existing scene-related publications. In this paper, Patryk Wasiak discusses the topic based on interviews and contemporary texts. One of the most interesting findings is how both “Euros” and “Amis” retained their cultural identities in spite of their shared interests. Online here.
Wasiak, Patryk (2014): Playing and Copying: Social Practices of Home Computer Users in Poland during the 1980s. In Alberts, Gerard; Oldenziel, Ruth (eds.) (2014): Hacking Europe – From Computer Cultures to Demoscenes. London: Springer, pp. 129–150.
Another one from the hard-working Patryk Wasiak. In this book chapter he discusses the Polish home computer culture of the 1980s from multiple perspectives. Behind the iron curtain it wasn’t always easy to obtain hardware or software, but enthusiasts found ways of getting around the restrictions, and eventually a distinctive computer culture was born. There is a whole section dedicated to the Polish demoscene and its connections to the West.
Woods, Kam (2008): Virtualization for Preservation of Executable Art. In Proceedings of the 2008 DOCAM Summit and Symposium.
In this digital cultural heritage related conference paper Woods evaluates the use of emulators and virtual machines for demo preservation – or, in the big picture, the preservation of art that is distributed as executable files. The analysis is based on 250 productions made for the Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST and IBM PC compatibles. Available online here: http://www.cs.indiana.edu/~kamwoods/kwoodsmims08.pdf
Publications in German
Bader, Roland (1990): Elektronische Graffiti. In Schindler, Wolfgang (ed.): Spieglein, Spieglein, in der Hand… aej Materialien 18.
An article connecting demos and graffiti scene. Was later published in another book: Schindler, Wolfgang (ed.) (2005): MaC* – Reloaded: Perspektiven aus der Skepsis für *Menschen am Computer. Rabenstück, pp. 182-193. The latter version is available online here: http://www.josefstal.de/mac/days/2004/buch/bader_elektron_graffiti.pdf.
Botz, Daniel (2011): Kunst, Code und Maschine — Die Ästhetik der Computer-Demoszene. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.
The book is based on Botz’s doctoral dissertation Hacker-Ästhetik from 2008, which was the first doctoral thesis written on demos. The publication weighs in at respectable 428 pages and deals in depth with the scene and demos from an aesthetic perspective. Different demo styles and their development are illustrated with a large number of screen shots, and they are also compared to other art genres. The time span covered by Botz starts from the very first crack screens of the 1980’s and continues until the modern 3D accelerated PC demos. In addition there is a short chapter on computer history, offering some background for the uninitiated reader. Among the most insightful touches are the blueprints of several 3D scenes seen in demos (pp. 358–359). A must read for any demo researcher (especially for those fluent in German). Kunst, Code und Maschine is available for purchase here: http://www.amazon.de/Kunst-Code-Maschine-%C3%84sthetik-Computer-Demoszene/dp/3837617491/. Daniel’s website with more info on the book can be found here: http://www.danielbotz.de/. An English ToC is now available here.
Grohé, Moses (2006): Malen nach Zahlen. GEE 23/2006.
Demoscene introduction and a brief interview with the German demo group Farbrausch.
Göhler, Stefan (2007): Am Anfang stand die Raubkopie. Computer-Demos: von der Cracker-Visitenkarte zur Kunstform. c’t 1/2007, Darmstadt, pp. 84–89.
An introduction to the demoscene.
Eckert, Roland, Waldemar Vogelsang, Thomas A. Wetzstein, and Rainer Winter (1991): Auf digitalen Pfaden. Die Kulturen von Hackern, Programmierern, Crackern und Spielern. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
This collaborative study, conducted in 1990 by sociologists from the University of Trier and commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, sets out to explore the cultures and everyday practices of “computer freaks”, defined as “circles of individuals who pursue intensive and specialised computer activities in their spare time” (p. 11). With their study, the researchers strive to deconstruct the predominant fears of contemporary German society about enthusiastic home computer usage leading to isolation and loss of social competence, showing that “computer freaks”, on the contrary, engage in creative practices and build intense interpersonal relations. “Hackers”, “programmers”, “crackers”, and “gamers” are identified as distinct computer “scenes”, and its participants’ motivations and practices are reconstructed and evaluated on the base of interviews with participants. The study dedicates a chapter to crackers, which are identified as a particular subculture within the programmers’ scene (pp. 220-227). Drawing on interviews with several crackers, the authors establish the cracking scene not just as software pirates and destroyers of copy protection, but as highly skilled programmers whose core motivation is to compete not only among eachother, but also with the “professional” programmers in the software industry. They highlight the cracking groups’ internal division of labour and the global networks they build up in order to outrun the industry in obtaining, cracking and spreading new software. Most importantly, however, the study points out the creativity of the intro programmers and the back-then new trend within parts of the scene to focus on graphics programming only: “In the crackers’ context, a new specialised culture is beginning to develop, as more and more graphics artists, musicians, and programmers with artistic ambitions are joining the scene. […] There is […] a trend towards ‘pure’ intro programming. Here, digital art is not just an addition to pirated software, but the main piece of work, it is not just an ouverture, but an end in itself and the central point. This leads to a development of the intro scene towards an artistically oriented ‘demo scene’, as its insiders call it.” (pp. 225-226, translation by Demoscene Research). Also, a definition of a “demo” is provided as “an independent animation and sound program which is not subjected to the space limitations of an intro” (p. 263). This is, to our knowledge, the first treatment of the demoscene as a particular entity in a scholarly publication, which makes the book a forgotten pioneer work of demoscene research.
Hartmann, Doreen (2012): Zerstört Offenheit den Wettstreit? Über die subkulturellen Werte von Crackern, Hackern und Demoszenern. In Sützl, Wolfgang; Stalder, Felix; Maier, Ronald; Hug, Theo (eds.): Medien – Wissen – Bildung: Kulturen und Ethiken des Teilens. Innsbruck University Press, pp. 229–241.
In this article Hartmann discusses the origins of the demoscene and compares the practices of crackers, demosceners and hackers, dealing with topics such as motivation, artifacts and their distribution, and fame. The whole book is available online here: http://www.uibk.ac.at/iup/buch_pdfs/9783902811745.pdf
Hitzler, Ronald; Niederbacher, Arne (2010): Leben in Szenen. Formen juveniler Vergemeinschaftung heute. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.
The book deals with all sorts of youth cultures – or scenes – ranging from skateboarding to parkour. Section 2.4 seems to be an introduction to the demoscene.
Horx, Matthias (1984): Chip-Generation. Ein Trip durch die Computerszene. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt.
German journalist Matthias Horx’s treatment of the “chip-generation” was most likely the first German book-length essay dealing with the new phenomenon of homecomputer subcultures. In contrast to the rather technosceptical attitudes within German post-1968 alternative political circles, Horx – himself part of the left-alternative milieu – tries to make sense of seemingly apolitical “computer kids” and to rehabilitate them before his peers as potentially progressive and subvesive social agents. He dedicates a whole chapter (“Frisch geknackt und gut gedealt”, pp. 93-113) to software pirates, covering commercial piracy as well as the very beginnings of the C64 cracking scene. It is most likely here that C64 crackers like Antiram and Oleander are being mentioned in a book publication for the very first time.
Knoke, Felix (2005): Demoscene. Rechenkünstler. Intro 126, 2005.
Another brief introduction to the scene in German.
Koenig, Aaron (2004): Coole Kunst im Rechner. Die Zeit 29/2004.
A German overview of the scene. Farbrausch seems to be involved in many of these, here too they get to comment on issues. Available online: http://www.zeit.de/2004/29/T-Demo-Programmierer
Stöcker, Christian (2011): Nerd Attack! Eine Geschichte der digitalen Welt vom C64 bis zu Twitter und Facebook. Munich: DVA.
Renowned German journalist Christian Stöcker, head of the IT-news department of SPIEGEL ONLINE, presents a history of the “digital world” from the 1980s until today, interweaving it with an autobiographical narrative. As a proud teenage Commodore 64 user in the 1980s, Stöcker had several encounters with the cracking scene, to which he dedicates a whole chapter (“Kopierer und Künstler”, pp. 23-52). For Stöcker, crackers and their social practices were crucial in the formation of the “Generation C64”, which, in turn, together with hackers and other cuberculture activists, is incorporated by him into a success-story narrative of the “digital world”.
Zelazny, Stefan (2006): Digitale Kunst und Demoscene. Von Pickelgesichtern und Raubkopien zur digitalen Kunst. computer-Postille 3/2003, pp. 3–5. Universität Dortmund (University of Dortmund).
A german article about demos in general with several screenshots.
Publications in other languages
Ferreira, Emmanoel; Duarte, Abel (2014): Por dentro da demoscene: uma investigação dos atuais usos e apropriações de plataformas de computadores dos anos 1980. In VIII Simpósio Nacional da ABCiber.
A rare occurrence: a demo-related conference paper from Brazil and, accordingly, written in Portuguese. From what we could gather, the article could be described as an introduction to the demoscene, coupled with some historical background and its connections to the larger cultural context. Available online here: http://www.abciber.org.br/simposio2014/anais/GTs/emmanoel_ferreira_144.pdf
Ha!art #47 (2014): Demoscena. Kraków: Korporacja Ha!art. ISSN 1641-7453
Demoscene-themed issue of the Polish-language magazine Ha!art, the “post-disciplinary magazine on new culture”. It features 96 pages of materials related to the history and present state of the demoscene, covering aesthetical, philosophica,l and technical aspects. In detail, the issue includes: an interview with Nick Montfort by Piotr Marecki (pp. 4-9); essays by Piotr Czerski (pp. 11-24), Paweł Grabarczyk (pp. 25-28), and Magdalena Sawicka (pp. 29-30) on the history and the particular aspects of the demoscene; reflections on the demoscene and glitch art by Sebastian Rerak (pp. 31-34); an essay on critical engeneering by Anna Nacher (pp. 35-39); Jakub Kłeczek’s reflections on demoscener Sigflup’s podcast “A Hacker’s Perspective on Schizophrenia” (pp. 40-42); a piece on 4k intros by Adam Błażejewicz (pp. 43-44); a conversation between Magdalena Sawicka and Bartek Dramczyk on demoscene and digital art (pp. 45-49); a feature on the Amiga demoscene by Bartek Dramczyk, including recollections by XTD, Ubik, and Argasek (pp. 50-59); an interview with Yerzmyey by Piotr Marecki (pp. 60-69); an interview with Val Grimm, organiser of @party, by Piotr Marecki (pp. 70-72); a history of the Polish automatic poetry generator “Turbo Wieszcz++” (pp. 73-76); and unpublished sketches by Yerzmyey (pp. 77-88). The journal issue is out of print, but can be read online for free at http://ha.art.pl/czasopismo/numery-czasopisma/4054-ha-art-47-3-2014.
Molinari, Maria (2002): Si scrive demo, si legge arte. Hacker Journal 15/2002, pp. 10–13.
A four-page article about the demo scene. Unfortunately this is in Italian only so we can’t comment too deeply. Seems to be an ordinary overview of the phenomenon with some connections to hacking and cyberculture. Available online: http://www.dvara.net/HK/HK-Writes/Scenademo.asp
Wilhelmsson, Jimmy; Grönwall, Kenneth (2014): Generation 64: Commodore 64 gjorde mig till den jag är. Bokfabriken.
This is a colorful popular book about the Commodore 64, its games, demos, and how it shaped people’s lives. Contains plenty of illustrations and interviews, some of them with known demoscene members or crackers. So far only available in Swedish, but an English version migh come out later. Book homepage.
Alberts, Gerard; Oldenziel, Ruth (eds.) (2014): Hacking Europe – From Computer Cultures to Demoscenes. London: Springer.
An article collection that deals with various bits of European microcomputer and hobbyist history. All in all, a highly useful read, plus contains multiple articles that mention demos, too. The scene-related articles can be found here as separate items with more detailed descriptions.
Arrasvuori, Juha (1999): Tietokone soittimena – ‘digitaalisen musiikin’ lähtökohtia. In Järvinen, Aki & Mäyrä, Franz (eds.): Johdatus digitaaliseen kulttuuriin. Tampere: Tampereen ammattikorkeakoulu (Tampere Polytechnic) & Osuuskunta Vastapaino.
Computer as Instrument – Starting Points for Digital Music. An introduction to digital music that briefly discusses tracker software in a footnote (see p. 203).
Aune, Margrethe (1996): The computer in everyday life. Patterns of domestication of a new technology. In Lie, Merete & Sørensen, Knut (eds.): Making Technology Our Own: Domesticating Technology into Everyday Life. Scandinavian University Press.
An article dealing with the domestication of new technology (as the name suggests). Aune discusses different types of computer users, such as game players and actually mentions demo groups too, even though she calls them “Amiga clubs”.
Bagnall, Brian (2005): On the edge: the spectacular rise and fall of Commodore. Variant Press.
This book could easily be called “Commodore Hackers” — the style is so similar to Levy’s (1994) book. Bagnall takes you through the entire history of Commodore computers ranging from PET to the last Amigas. The book is mostly based on interviews of the former employees such as Chuck Peddle, Bil Herd and R.J. Mical and partly on contemporary magazines. This is not a scholarly publication so be aware that many of the opinions stated in the book may be somewhat colored. Nevertheless: the book is a good read and provides extensive insight on its subject.
Bennerstedt, Ulrika (2013): Knowledge at Play. Studies of Games as Members’ Matters. Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg.
A PhD thesis from the field of educational sciences. It’s mostly about knowledge-building in the scope of computer games, but demos get mentioned when Bennerstedt discusses the background of the game industry. Available online here: https://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/32674
Bertelsons, Boris; Rasch, Matthias; Hoffmann, Jan Erik (1995): PC Underground. Unconventional Programming Topics. Abacus.
This book deals with various “underground programming topics” such as assembly language, VGA register tweaking and copy protection. Originally published in Germany by Data Becker and then in the USA by Abacus. Does not contain any explicit demo references but is obviously influenced by the demo and cracker programming techniques.
Borsook, Paulina (2000): Cyberselfish: A Critical Romp through the Terribly Libertarian Culture of High Tech. New York: Public Affairs.
A critical study about the social impacts of technology. The actual subject of this book are the techno-libertarians of USA, but maybe there’s some anarcho-capitalism, social Darwinistic metaphors and excitement about the Hobbesian war of all against all to be found in the demoscene as well? See more details in http://www.cyberselfish.com.
Dimmen, Pål (2003): Datamaskinell Piratvirksomhet: Fra Altair Basic til Kazaa. Bergen: Universitetet i Bergen (University of Bergen).
A master’s thesis that deals with the history of piracy and the cracking scene (which is closely related to demo culture history). Available only in Norwegian for now.
Dittbrenner, Nils (2007): Chip-Musik: Computer- und Videospielmusik von 1977–1994. Universität Osnabrück.
A book about the history of chip music in computer and video games. Only available in German for now. Can be purchased here: http://www.buchhandel.de/detailansicht.aspx?isbn=978-3-923486-94-6
Forster, Winnie (2005): The encyclopedia of Game.Machines: Consoles, handhelds & home computers 1972–2005. Gameplan.
An illustrated history book of game consoles and home computers from the seventies to these days. Provides useful background information to the scene researcher as well. Visually stunning and an entertaining read with numerous high-quality screenshots and photos of the devices.
Franke, Herbert W. (1971): Computer Graphics – Computer Art. London: Phaidon Press.
An early overview of the domain of computer art, written originally in German (Computergraphik – Computerkunst). An enlightening read with many illustrations from the 1960s when computers were still out of reach of everyday people. Many of the screen captures and prints actually look a lot like demo effects. Out of print, we got our used copy from Amazon.
G.N. (1986): Die ehrenwerte Gesellschaft: Treffen der Cracker-Gilde Deutschlands. Happy Computer 10/1986.
An old article from the German magazine Happy Computer. Deals with cracking. Unfortunately we can’t find the full name of the author. Available online: http://www.stcarchiv.de/hc1986/10_cracker.php
Hakkarainen, Esa (2011): Katsaus retropelikonemusiikin maailmaan. WiderScreen 1–2/2011.
A Finnish brief overview of chipmusic. Demoscene is mentioned briefly, but most of the discussion revolves around the Axes Denied band. See here: http://www.widerscreen.fi/2011-1-2/katsaus-retropelikonemusiikin-maailmaan/
Harry, M. (1985): The Computer Underground. Loompanics Unlimited.
A rather mixed collection of writings about phreaking, piracy and hacking among other themes. Contains even tutorials on misusing different systems.
Krömer, Jan; Sen, Evrim (2006): No Copy: Die Welt der digitalen Raubkopie. Germany: Tropen Verlag.
The newest book by Sen about digital underground, this time written together with Jan Krömer. We haven’t checked it out yet. Available as pdf under a Creative Commons license here.
Laing, Gordon (2004): Digital Retro. The Evolution and Design of the Personal Computer. Cambridge: ILEX.
An overview of the home computer era ranging from MITS Altair to NeXT Cube. Features almost 50 different systems with colorful anecdotes and company histories. High-quality photographs let the reader inspect the old cases in detail. Probably not the book for a historian looking for in-depth facts, but definitely an inspiring read for anybody interested in retro computing.
Levy, Steven (1994/1984): Hackers. Dell Publishing.
A fundamental piece of work that deals with the different hackers ranging from the 50’s to the 80’s. Starting with the “true hackers” of MIT Levy moves to the hardware hackers of the 70s and finally the game hackers of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Filled with numerous lively anecdotes and characters the book is easy and entertaining to read. On the whole we warmly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to widen her picture of the computer culture and hobbyists.
Levy, Steven (2010): Geek Power. Wired May 2010, pp. 80–87, 126–129.
In this article, Steven Levy pays after 25 years a new visit to some of the interviewees of his book Hackers and also conducts a couple of interviews with the “next generation” of hackers. Reportedly the original hackers have traveled diverse trajectories, from those who became the rich and the famous to others who according to Levy “toiled in obscurity and fought to stave off bitterness”. The article is available online in this link: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/04/ff_hackers/.
Moschitto, Denis; Sen, Evrim (2000): Hackertales. Geschichten von Freund + Feind. Germany: Tropen Verlag.
Hackertales – Tales about Friends + Enemies. A fictious book about a German phreaker. The authors are demosceners who have worked for groups such as Scoopex and Shining-8. Written in German. A description is available online at http://www.hackerland.de/. Available as pdf under a Creative Commons license here.
Moschitto, Denis; Sen, Evrim (2001): Hackerland. Das Logbuch der Szene. Germany: Tropen Verlag. Third revised edition.
Hackerland – the Logbook of the Scene. An introductory book to software piracy, phreakers and hacker culture. Scenes formed around illegal activities take a main role in the book, but there also are bits about demoscene and -parties (see pp. 110-120). The authors are demosceners who have worked for groups such as Scoopex and Shining-8. Written in German. A description is available online at http://www.hackerland.de/. A pdf version can be found here.
Nissen, Jörgen (1993): Pojkarna Vid Datorn: Unga Entusiaster i Datateknikens Värld. Stockholm: Symposium Graduale.
Boys in front of computers, the young enthousiasts in the world of information technology. A sociological PhD thesis on the young Swedish computer users. We haven’t found this one yet.
Nordli, Hege (1998): Fra Spice Girls til Cyber Girls. En kvalitativ analyse av datafascinerte jenter i ungdomsskolen. STS-report 35, Centre for Technology and Society, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
A research article written in Norwegian. Describes the attitudes of young computer enthousiast girls. Was later published in English as well (see below).
Nordli, Hege (2001): From ‘Spice Girls’ to Cybergirls: The Role of Multimedia in the Construction of Young Girls’ Fascination for and Interest in Computers. In van Lieshout, Marc; Egyedi, Tineke; Bijker, Wiebe (eds.): Social Learning Technologies. The introduction of multimedia in education. Ashgate Publishing, pp. 110–133.
The results of a research concerning the attitudes of young computer enthousiast girls ranging from 14 to 16 years of age. Discussion is provided on the gender roles as well as the importance of multimedia in education. An interesting finding is that not even the most enthousiastic girls want to be associated with nerds because of image reasons. Another interesting point is that big brothers tend to occupy the family computer which in turn leads to loss of interest. The study is a part of a larger trend: the Norwegian authorities were worried about the small number of women studying computer science or working in the computer industry. A bit different version of the study is available online.
O’Hara, Rob (2006): Commodork: Sordid Tales from a BBS Junkie. Rob O’Hara.
Not a research publication at all, but the personal memoirs of a long-time computer hobbyist. O’Hara walks through the development of home computers from the 1970s to this day as seen from the perspective of an Oklahoma warez dude. A quick and entertaining read, which provides a rare view to the American BBS scene, and lets European readers make comparisons between the hobbyist cultures of the two continents. Demoscene gets mentioned in a couple of paragraphs and artpacks (somewhat comparable to diskmags) receive some attention as well. The web page of the book can be found here: http://www.robohara.com/commodork/. Available online now, too: http://www.scribd.com/doc/56596520/Commodork-Sordid-Tales-From-a-BBS-Junkie-Rob-O-Hara
Pfadenhauer, Michaela (2005): Ethnography of Scenes. Towards a Sociological Life-world Analysis of (Post-traditional) Community-building. Forum: Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(3).
An introduction to a social scientific approach which the writer calls “ethnography of scenes”. Scenes are communities built around a common theme such as “music styles, clothing styles, consumption styles, communication styles, interaction styles etc.”. The boundaries and the affiliations of a scene are “not self-explanatory” to outsiders, but they are the result of constant negotiations by the scene members. In addition to empirical examples and reflections on research methods, the article also includes a brief theoretical review of the concept scene. While the author mostly deals with youth cultures and particularly youth club cultures, analogies with the demo scene are easy to see. Available online in this link.
Rehn, Alf (2004): The politics of contraband – The honor economies of the warez scene. Journal of Socio-Economics, 33(3), pp. 359–374.
An article that describes a system of modern gift economy in the software pirate (warez) scene. Rehn writes about reputation tournaments and status maintaining that are very similar to demoscene. There are also interesting accounts on how Rehn conducted the participatory ethnography for the research in the Internet. The article is available online at http://www.alfrehn.com/academic/page2/assets/Rehn%20JSE.pdf.
Rydman, Vilja (2011): Nörtin tarina. Helsinki: University of Helsinki.
In her master’s thesis Nörtin tarina (Nerd Story) Vilja Rydman discusses the different meanings of the term “nerd”. She sheds some light on the origins of nerds and shows how the meaning of the word has changed throughout the years. There would be a lot more to say about the topic, but the discussion is cut a bit short towards the end. The thesis is available online here: https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/26224.
Savetz, Kevin (2012): Terrible Nerd. Portland: Savetz Publishing.
Tech journalist Kevin Savetz’s biography, where he documents his relationship with computers starting from his childhood. From a scene historian’s point-of-view the most interesting parts are his experiences with various Bulletin Board Systems and early software piracy. As American authors have largely focused on the hacker culture, it is useful to get to read about local down-to-earth experiences – not every hobbyist was a hacker or a phreak.
Švelch, Jaroslav (2010): Selling Games by the Kilo. Using Oral History to Reconstruct Informal Economies of Computer Game Distribution in the Post-Communist Environment. In Swertz, Christian; Wagner, Michael (eds.): GAME//PLAY//SOCIETY. Contributions to Contemporary Computer Game Studies, Munich: kopaed, 2010, pp. 265-276.
Based on oral history interviews, Švelch analyses the practices of importing, cracking and distributing games (mostly for the ZX Spectrum) in late-1980s and early-1990s Czechoslovakia. Even though there are no direct references to the international cracking- and/or demoscene, the practices and structures described in the article reveal many parallels. Švelch describes the Czechoslovak games-circulation scene as a (mostly) gift-economy (with the borders between enthusiasts and small-scale commercial pirates often being vague), functioning in the peculiar context of late-socialist and early post-socialist society.
Svensson, Jan (1999): S.H.A. Hackergruppen som skakade Sverige. Malmö: Lexis.
S.H.A. The Hacker Group that Shook Sweden tells the scene “biography” of several of the members of the famous Swedish hacker group SHA. Covering the 1980s and 1990s, important themes and topics for demo research are documented; such as aliases (“handles”), groups, electronic bulletin boards, the digital underground, and even computer parties and demos. The book is journalistic and not scientific research as such; indeed, it would be interesting to know more about data collection methods as the book is full of fine detail. Available as a printed book, and online here: http://hem.bredband.net/b288022/bok.pdf.
Taylor, Paul A. (1999): Hackers: Crime in the Digital Sublime. London: Routledge.
A well-known hacker book and a positive counterexample among the typical sensationalist publications of the 1990s. Taylor discusses the pros and cons of “hacking” (in this case: network intruders and hobbyists) from different points of view. He distinguishes between dovish and hawkish attitudes towards hackers and deals with the motives of different stakeholders. At times the amount of quotes is almost overwhelming, but on the other hand they are well-selected.
Thomas, Douglas (2002): Hacker Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
In his book Thomas describes the attitudes, media representations and the legal position of hackers. In this context hacking and hackers refer specifically to the phone/network hackers of the 80’s and 90’s such as Kevin Mitnick, who is specifically presented as a case example. Hacker culture is categorized as a boy culture loaded with competition and strive for independence. Some good observations on the incorporation of subcultures, technophobia and hacker language offer insights to a demo researcher as well.
Tomczak, Sebastian (2011): On the Development of an Interface Framework in Chipmusic: Theoretical Context, Case Studies and Creative Outcomes. Adelaide: University of Adelaide.
A quite curious PhD thesis where the author has built hardware interfaces for various video game consoles including the Atari 2600, Sega Master System, Sega Mega Drive and Vectrex, in order to use them together with a PC host as musical instruments. The demoscene is mentioned briefly, but all in all the focus is on the sound chips and their use. Available online here: http://digital.library.adelaide.edu.au/dspace/handle/2440/70888.
Turkle, Sherry (1984): The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. Simon & Schuster.
An influential book that deals with the complex relationship of computers and humans. In her research project Turkle studied a large number of people ranging from kids to oldschool hackers and computer science students. The way that Turkle treats her informants is exemplary: she clearly respects their points of view and tries to understand them. An important theme that pops up throughout the book is the role of the computer as a mirror of the human spirit. Turkle’s text is easy to follow and doesn’t need prior knowledge on either computers or psychology to be understood. Since 1984 a lot has changed, but the main points made in the book still remain valid.
Turkle, Sherry (1995): Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Simon & Schuster.
Another well-known book by Turkle, dealing with the challenges and possibilities the Internet, virtuality and artificial lifeforms introduce to their users. On one hand a well-written and analytical piece, but on the other hand hasn’t aged too well (in 1995 MUDs were popular and the number of Internet users was still low – now we’re in a completely different situation) and partially overlaps with The Second Self. The general insights on gender, power and multiple selves are probably the most useful content of this book.
Wajcman, Judy (1991): Feminism Confronts Technology. Polity Press.
In the book’s chapter “Technology as Masculine Culture”, Judy Wajcman looks how the computer has become socially constructed as a male domain. Through examples from professional and hacker worlds we see, how computers are associated with boys and men, and why girls approach the computer with less confidence than boys. These findings are in line with Sherry Turkle’s (1984) ones.
A German website with news, articles and other material related to demos: http://www.4players.de/4sceners.php/index/-/index.html
8 bit core (2005): C=64 Demosampler
The Commodore 64 demo DVD project, similar in concept to for example MindCandy. Two volumes available for free online: http://www.stefan-uhlmann.de/cbm/DVD/DVD.html or from scene.org: ftp://ftp.scene.org/pub/demos/compilations/c64_demo_sampler/
ARTE (2003): Tribal – Demoszene
A German demo documentary shown as part of the Tracks series of the art oriented tv channel ARTE. Contains an introduction to demos with some video footage. The German group Farbrausch was interviewed and appears on the clip. Available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqh1iXIlyJk
Atariscene DVD Project
Similar to MindCandy this project of the active Atari group Dead Hackers Society aims to make Atari demos easily viewable in DVD format. So far three collections have been published. http://dvd.dhs.nu/
Brandt, Felix: Atari ST demo history
The history of Atari ST demos from 1987 to 1999 written by Flix/Delta Force. In addition to short descriptions and screenshots you can actually download all the demos as well. http://www7.in.tum.de/~brandtf/ataridemos.html
Chapman, Ian (1999–): Big Book of Amiga Hardware
The definitive collection of Amiga computer and expansion card specs. http://www.bboah.com/
A collection of some Amiga crack intros with screenshots and downloads. http://www.cracktros.org/.
The Demoscene Documentary
YLE, the Finnish broadcasting company, produced a documentary series on the demoscene. Interviews, milestone demos, historical facts. Their dedicated Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/demoscenedoc
The demoskene.katastro.fi exhibition (2003)
The demoskene.katastro.fi exhibition was held in Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki between 28.3-15.6.2003, curated by Lassi Tasajärvi. The demos shown were from Byterapers, Virtual Dreams, CNCD, Parallax, Maturefurk, Komplex, Tpolm, Doomsday, Orange and various permutations of katastro.fi members.
Demoscene entry at Wikipedia
Quite a nice overview that seems to receive updates every now and then. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscene
Edge Staff (2008): Inside the PS3 Demoscene.
An article about the commercial PlayStation 3 demo Linger in Shadows by the Polish demogroup Plastic. Additionally there is some discussion about the potential of game consoles as demo platforms. Read the article here: http://www.edge-online.com/magazine/inside-ps3-demoscene
The Eurochart online
The Eurochart has documented the Amiga scene since 1989. Competition is a fundamental part of the culture and the charts reveal the popularity of groups, individuals and productions through the years. http://www.eurochart.dk/
Green, Dave (1995): Demo or Die! Wired, Issue 3.07.
Yet another introduction to demos, written in a slightly cheapening tone — scene people are referred to as “kids”. However, connects demos to other phenomena of the time. Paper version here and an online version here: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.07/democoders.html
Gruetzmacher, Thomas (2004): PC Demoscene FAQ
Located here: http://tomaes.32x.de/text/pcdemoscene_faq.txt. Explains many of the fundamental concepts and terms used in the scene.
Hartmann, Anja (2008): Type-Demos: Die Rolle der Schrift in der Demoscene
A seminar paper written in German about the role of text/script in demos. The focus is on new productions. The paper and an interview of Hartmann can be found here: http://www.4players.de/4sceners.php/dispbericht/-/62418/0/index.html
Hasselbacher, Tony (2014): Scene Letters – The Gateway to the written past history of the Demo Scene.
Tony “The Heavyweight” Hasselbacher’s collection of letters he received during his mail swapping career. An interesting contemporary peek into one little documented corner of the scene. http://www.sceneletters.com/
Heikkilä, Ville-Matias (2009): Putting the demoscene in a context
Probably better known by his handle Viznut, Heikkilä provides insight to the possible approaches of how the scene could be placed in different contexts: http://www.pelulamu.net/countercomplex/putting-the-demoscene-in-a-context/. Also worth checking out are his articles about computationally minimal art and the future of the demoscene.
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
IEEE journal published four times a year. Contains a wealth of information on the computer history. The abstracts of the articles are available for free but to access the full texts you need to pay (note that many universities have purchased the access to the IEEE electronic library so by chance you might have it too). http://www.computer.org/portal/site/annals/
In Medias Res
The archive of several old Commodore 64/Amiga scene interviews. http://zakalwe.fi/~shd/texts/imr/zimr.htm
A site dedicated to the crack intros on Commodore 64. Extensive collection of intros available for download. http://intros.c64.org/
Järvinen, Aki (2000): Demoscene Sub or Pop?
A lecture held in Tampere University. The slides disappeared for a couple of years but the author kindly provided them for us: digital_subcultures.pdf
Knoke, Felix; Kremp, Matthias (2007): Kunst ist, was klein ist
An introduction and short descriptions of some demos. Published on Spiegel Online: http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/spielzeug/0,1518,496373,00.html
Kotlinski, Johan (2009): Amiga Music Programs 1985–1995
A seminar paper on the history of Amiga music programs, mostly trackers. Online: http://chipflip.org/dox/kotlinski_(2009)_amiga_music_programs_89-95.pdf
Kuittinen, Petri (2001): Computer Demos – The Story So Far
A quite often referenced web page containing yet another introduction to the phenomenon, several links and images plus a glossary. http://mlab.uiah.fi/~eye/demos/
Leonard, Jim (1995?–1998): PC Demos Explained
A classic site by Jim Leonard aka. Trixter of Hornet. Widely known among the sceners and an often referenced source. Nowadays out of date, but still useful if you want to know how things were seen in 1996. This is a new mirror for the page: http://www.scheib.net/play/demos/what/trixter/index.html.
Another article by Leonard, titled “Life before Demos (or, Hobbyist Programming in the 1980’s)”, can be found here: http://www.oldskool.org/shrines/lbd
Linde, Ingo (2005): Medienaneignung und Medienamateure am Beispiel der so genannten >Demoszene<.
A German introduction written from the point of view of animation, new media and amateur art. Available here: http://www.animationproject.org/theory/demoszene/aneignung/index.htm
Lunder, Glenn (1996–): ExoticA! Scenery Project.
An enormous collection of Amiga and Commodore 64 demo group information. Includes group members, ex-members and productions. http://exotica.fix.no/info/scenery/
Menkman, Rosa (2010): Entropic elasticity: Critical Glitch Artware & the Demoscene. Furtherfield.org.
An article that brings together glitch art and demos. The discussion revolves around the American Blockparty and GCAC events of 2010. http://www.furtherfield.org/reviews/entropic-elasticity-critical-glitch-artware-demoscene
A project producing DVDs with classic demos. A nice way of viewing hard-to-run old productions on modern hardware. http://www.mindcandydvd.com/
Montfort, Nick (2012): Gamer vs. Scener, or, Scener Theory.
The well-known new media and game researcher Nick Montfort gave a presentation about the demoscene at the Nordic DiGRA 2012 conference in Tampere. His presentation as a web page: http://nickm.com/post/2012/06/gamer-vs-scener-or-scener-theory/
Mr. Mouse/XeNTaX (2010): CSDb Analyses.
An interesting set of visualizations based on the Commodore 64 Scene Database. The activity of the C64 scene gets analyzed from different points of view. See here: http://www.xentax.com/?page_id=235
Mustekala.info (2008): Demoscene & Paris art scene, 31(6).
The online art magazine Mustekala.info published a collection of demoscene-related articles in 2008. Some of them are in Finnish and some in English. Available here: http://www.mustekala.info/epublish/1/v31
origami digital – Demos without restrictions exhibition (2002-2003).
A demoscene exhibition held in the Museum of Applied Arts Frankfurt between 10.12.2002-20.2.2003. At the exhitibions website http://www.digitalcraft.org/index.php?artikel_id=411 you’ll find short introductionary texts to demoscene. As for the exhibition’s name, the artefact of an origami serves as a comparison for demos: the japanese art of folding papers to complexe figures also underlies various restrictions. Aside from this, Digitalcraft also hosts other interesting exhibitions about the craftmanship culture of computing.
Polsson, Ken (1995–2008): Chronology of Personal Computers
An extensive timeline of the computer history from 1947 to these days. Based on contemporary magazines such as Byte and Info World. According to the website the history will be compiled into a book later on. http://www.islandnet.com/~kpolsson/comphist/
The most active demo scene portal of today featuring tens of thousands of productions with screenshots and discussion. http://www.pouet.net/
Raymond, Eric S. (2003): The Jargon File, version 4.4.7
The definitive hacker slang dictionary which was later also published as a book called The New Hacker’s Dictionary. http://catb.org/jargon/
Shor, Shirley; Eyal, Aviv (2002): DEMOing :: A new emerging art form or just another digital craft? rhizome.org. Republished in 2004 in Intelligent Agent 4.1.
An introductionary article written by the New Yorkian artists Shirley Shor and Aviv Eyal. The authors want to show that demos are unique audio-visual virtual constructs with deep formalistic and aesthetic roots in the computer underground movement of the 80’s. Similarly to many demoscene introductions, the tone of the text is very enthousiastic, and it makes a number of connections e.g. to hiphop culture. The article was published on the Art-E-Zine rhizome.org and after that again in Intelligent Agent. http://intelligentagent.com/archive/IA4_1demosceneshoreval.pdf
Simmonds, Ashton (2001): Decoding Art. A Critical Analysis of the Demo Scene.
A general article about the scene. Touches topics such as demographics, social organization and demo genres. Possibly a BA thesis, but we can’t confirm it. Online (long URL).
Scheib, Vincent (2001): Introduction to Demos & The Demo Scene: How they Relate to Games, and their Appearance at SIGGRAPH. Gamasutra.
Another introduction to the scene, this time published on the game-oriented Gamasutra website. Makes connections between demos and games, as can be expected in the context. SIGGRAPH is mentioned as a possible venue for exhibiting demos (see Scheib et al. 2002). http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20010216/scheib_01.htm
Stamnes, Bent (2012): State of the Demoscene 1991-2011
A blog post where Stamnes visualizes the development of the demoscene during two decades based on statistics, and interprets the possible reasons for the changes. http://blog.subsquare.com/state-of-the-demoscene-in-numbers
Tasajärvi, Lasse et al (2005–): Demoscene: the art of real time
Accompanying pages for Tasajärvi’s book DEMOSCENE: the art of real-time. http://www.evenlakestudios.com/books/
Topf, Mario (2005): Entwicklungstendenzen des Designprozesses in der Demoszene, betrachtet im sozio-technischen Kontext
A seminar paper written by Paralax/Speckdrumm for a course held at the Vienna University of Technology. Seems to deal with the design process of demos. Available here: http://twoday.tuwien.ac.at/static/paralax/files/demoscene.pdf.
Vigh, David (2003, 2008): Pixelstorm
An annotated collection of scene pixel art with some information about the artists and their tools. http://www.gr4ss.com/pixelstorm.html
Volko, Claus-Dieter (1998–): Demoscene articles
Several writings of Claus-Dieter Volko (Adok/Hugi). Mostly from and about disk magazines — or diskmags as they are called. http://www.hugi.scene.org/online/
Walleij, Linus (1998): Copyright finns inte (Copyright Does Not Exist), V3.0.
An online book in Swedish by Linus Walleij, aka. Kingfisher/Triad. Contains a lot of text on different digital subcultures such as hacking, cracking, demoscene and cyberpunk. In addition to that there is a rather large bibliography on underground topics. The link: http://www.df.lth.se/~triad/book/. These days there is also an English translation, available here: http://home.c2i.net/nirgendwo/cdne/ and a German version as a printed book: https://www.csw-verlag.com/en/Buecher/Hacker-Demoszene/Copyright-existiert-nicht.html.
Walleij, Linus: A Comment on “Warez D00dz” Culture.
A later bit by Walleij, where he comments on the portrayal of the warez culture made by Eric S. Raymond. http://www.df.lth.se/~triad/papers/Raymond_D00dz.html
Warncke, Kathrin (2007): Demoszene: Kunst auf vier Kilobyte
An general article about the demoscene, written in German. Available online: http://www.stern.de/computer-technik/computer/:Demoszene-Kunst-Kilobyte/593208.html
Wehner, Mikael (2010): Datastorm and the 8-bit Scene.
A web report from a VJ who visited a computer party in Göteborg, Sweden. It is a combination of personal accounts, photos, videos and a short interview from a party goer. Available online here.
A thematic issue of the WiderScreen online journal featuring six research articles and two discussion papers on various scene-related topics. Edited by your very own Markku and Antti. Available online here: http://widerscreen.fi/numerot/2014-1-2/
x8oi2h3_0000202 (2001): Process over Product: Generative art and the new demo
A short article from the Hugi diskmag that connects scene activities to art history. Online (long URL).
ZDF (2008): Demoszene: Hollywood in 64 Kilobyte
A German video documentary about demos. Available online: http://www.elektrischer-reporter.de/elr/video/85