I had a PO box where all the packages were sent to. I still can remember how excited I was, riding my bike (I was 15) to the postal office and open that treasure chest full of foreign packages. I'm from The Netherlands and did a lot of swapping with people from Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Yes, real good times with a lot of friendly people.
I think they've done it for 8 years now to good success.
One day the police was waiting in front of the post office and got a friend of mine.
EDIT: Found it "Postlagerkarte", I have heard that term before, but never was aware what it was. It feels strange that at a time you could do things easily, legally and anonymously, all at the same time. As a minor, at that. Let alone anonymously sending things to strangers. Admittedly I miss that world more than the Demoscene.
He died in 2010, maybe that's why we haven't heard much of him recently. De mortuis nil nisi bonum, but he was a bit of an annoyance.
Friends of mine had the police search their houses in 1987 for exchanging cracked C64 games with people all over West Germany. They were still adolescents, so they got away with a 100DM fine.
I was just a harmless teenager, copying games from friends (but also buying quite a few), but it seems I closer to some high profile crackers than I would have imagined. I wonder how many of them became part of the Demoscene.
What is a PLK card, and what did your friend do?!?
PLK = "PostLagerKarte", literally "mail storage card". It was (abolished 1991) a way to receive letters anonymously; like a P.O. box without your name attached to it. The [Wikipedia page](https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postlagerkarte) even explicitly mentions its "illegal usage in the computing scene", so GP was likely referring to his friend using their P.O. box for (illegally) cracked software.
Here's a shot at translating that Wikipedia paragraph:
> Until their abolition, PLK cards were especially popular in the cracker scene because, compared to a regular P.O. box, no personal data had to be shared with the respective post office. PLKs were primarily used for anonymous sending and receiving of pirated software on floppy disks. [citation needed imho] The PLK addresses themselves were often listed digitally in the cracktros.
Some influencers on TikTok actually set up PO Boxes where fans can send them tons of stuff. The idea may not be too far gone.
I mean sure, it's impressive that they pulled it off - I wouldn't expect whoever decides these things to understand much about computer art subcultures, but I don't know what the benefit is, to anyone.
EDIT: I just realized that of course the answer is, like anything demosceners do, "because we can". What was I thinking?
I understand when views lack some nuance, but this is absolutely puzzling to me.
Just because the theft is by a group elected by a majority doesn’t make it not theft.
You can wax on as much as you want about the importance of government revenue, safety nets, and defense, but it doesn’t fundamentally change the fact that the source is currently money taken by force from the people.
There is some requirement for coordination in a societal level, taking taxes to fund what bureaucrats like to foster is imperfect but so far looks like the better alternative than just letting private and profit-driven interests drive what's culture or not.
What's your alternative?
I can't imagine how it is in the USA, where art lives and dies by how marketable it is.
It occurs to me that the (newer) experimental art I have seen from America was developed by wealthy people with loads of free time; the era of wandering jazz and blues musicians having long since passed.
That era wasn’t government funded either. What’s your point?
Moreover, if I haven't heard of it, then the signal isn't stronger than the noise. It's not particularly _interesting_.
Which is a big, bold underscore on the argument that copyright should be abolished. Almost no artists make a living from their work, rendering it a failure at its supposed goal. All it is doing is providing artificial capital for a handful of fat cat media companies and the handful of parasitic artists privileged to be a part of that scene. The vast majority of artists will never get a break, and will have to work to subsidize their art. And what does society get out of the copyright game? Less creative freedom to remix and a select few people get richer.
UBI would do more to encourage art.
Moreover, they aren't going to be producing art which requires a full time effort if they cannot feedthemselves doing so.
50, 100 or 500 years from now, the ones coming after us now have a better chance to experience Equinox, or Fairlight, or Melon Dezin the same way we today experience Brügel, or Dürer, or Cezanne. School classes will analyze the hacks necessary for a parallax scroller, and be eternally bored of it. And some enthusiasts will copy the techniques.
It's not a bad thing, especially given the demoscene is bot extremely creative and absolutely nonexistant on today's art market, so will likely have disappeared with the demosceners in 20-50 years.
I hope not. Forcing anyone into it, kills the spirit of it, they were supposed to find. But that would be nothing new with classical school, so ..
My understanding is that there's no free money attached to being on a UNESCO list.
Highly doubtful claim.
Like I said earlier, I was into that scene in the early 90's and it was very much a cool kids club, we were doing amazing work (I was really proud of my BBS and all of the ANSI art I slaved over). This was always an underground elite scene that really only mattered to us.
Anyway, I was just trying to say that everyone that contributed to the scene should be proud and not diminish the great art that was created. My "punk" (as in punk rock fan) comment was that you should not diminish or under value the artistic contribution of the scene now that's it's being recognized by a more mainstream crowd.
But then I think I wasn't clear, I wasn't undervaluing the art (quite the contrary, I love demos). If anything, I was undervaluing the UNESCO list. :-)
But then I changed my mind because surely if some sceners think it's a list worth being on, then in my mind, it sort of by definition is.
This is often conflated into a personal attack, and it should not be.
What we do is not who we are, just saying.
We have a lot of angst online for failure to understand this distinction.
Take a basic scenario:
Good person gets called out for doing shitty things vs bad person getting called out doing shitty things.
What's the difference?
In terms of the shitty things? No difference at all. Doing shitty things is undesirable.
Where to go from there?
Personal judgement, and that's where the real personal attack actually is.
Frankly, failure to grok that diminishes the value of an actual personal attack while also at the same time marginalizing discussion on behavior that is or may not be shitty.
And here's a variation on that for you, just for shits and giggles:
You know, I've heard other people say you are a dick, but never believed it until now.
Where did I get that one?
My wife said it to a policeman who had just got done beating me up in my driveway because I would not allow access into my home without a warrant. Yes, I grinned. Got the message across without actually speaking to them as a person.
Truth is, their action did all the telling necessary.
One last variation on this:
Say we've got a racist handy and they do or say something basically racist.
We could declare, "you are a racist!" and render personal judgement and trigger a whole bunch of discussion that won't get anyone anywhere, but it may be gratifying.
Or, we could say, "that comes off as racist, are you sure you want to go there?" Or some variation on that.
The difference, while subtle, is in the former case we've made a personal judgement that is hard to get away from, or past.
The latter is speaking to behavior. People can make different choices later on, entertain advocacy, even ask for help having never been judged. Getting past that is an order easier.
...all of which is why people dislike personal attacks!
Who likes being judged? I don't.
And there we are back to this whole thing. Nobody judged anyone. They communicated how behavior comes off to others and that's it.
Since there was no judgement, no personal attack, all it really boils down to some feedback that the commenter can use to make different choices in the future, or not, no worries at all.
This meta discussion, is unfortunate, but worth it, if any passers by take away the difference.
be it unesco, internet archive, the big museums, whatever works. as we are losing more and more control over the hardware and software that we buy, the scene and anything similar will ultimately disappear.
This may be a huge ego trip or pure gatekeeping, but I never wrote anything that I expected people to run, look at the pretty pixels, and be done.
You cannot be truly impressed if you don't know the effort to put that art into a tiny file or abuse the hardware in ways never seen before. If you never fired a debugger or other development/reverse engineering tool, then you missed most it had to offer. And IMHO you never connected to the artist in any way.
(not saying it isn't also a huge museum btw)
Other than that, well, there really isn't a downside, so yeah, why not.
Given how much of general purpose computation we lose every year to walled-gardens/prisons, I think it might help a wee bit now and then.
Censorship that contrary to popular belief is not only reserved to Nazi themes/glorification but can also happen over too gruesome depictions of violence and other topics edging on the Overton window.
Which in practice lead to the reality that the original Doom game, an undeniable cornerstone of modern video-game culture which has by now become very much mainstream, used to be banned in Germany, in it's censored German version until 2011, the original US version of Doom II was only "unbanned" in 2019 
The long term consequences of decades of activism about "video games and violence"  coupled with a complete disregard of the idea that such a new digital medium could contribute in any meaningful ways to society.
If you want to mirror, https://files.scene.org/faq/ says its archive is about 2TB, or about 15625 of your old 128MB USB disks :P The archive from 1990 demoparties is already 5GB!
I know your comment was probably tongue-in-cheek, I just wanted to share the actual numbers.
Also it’s worth noting that a lot of Second Reality’s source code got released to GitHub several years back: https://github.com/mtuomi/SecondReality and here’s an incredibly deep dive into the code: https://fabiensanglard.net/second_reality/
Finally, here’s some rare footage of the creation of the legendary demo: https://youtu.be/LIIBRr31DIU (English subtitles available)
My computer at the time could barely play the the soundtrack itself in the tracker, it had so many active channels. The demo itself was a slideshow. Fortunately my friend had a 486/DX4 100MHz, so I got to watch it there.
To put this in perspective, there's no graphical acceleration involved here at all, everything pixel to be done on the CPU. And the microcontroller in the coffee maker at work is about as fast as my friends 486.
Yes, it's Second Reality on the Commodore 64 <3
My point of view. So hacking was and stayed your main option in Europe during the 80th, 90th.
Adult me wishes she could go back and actually pay the authors of all those games but then again I think most of them weren’t even available in the US...
I started learning to program in 1985, was part of a somewhat relevant demo group, attended The Assembly '94 in Helsinki, helped organize some enocounters in my country, etc...
For one it was a “cathedral”, not a “bazaar” in the sense that it had more or less the same hardware on all models.
The hardware was nicely balanced: small enough that you could learn it all, yet complex enough to keep tweaking and pushing its limits for a long time.
It also had a long life, so you could get really good at it. People were using their 500s from the 80s well into the 90es.
Contrast with his to PCs where there was a plethora of different hardware components for CPU models, graphics and sound - a “bazaar”.
At the early stages the standardised Amiga was just much easier for the devs.
Later the PCs became so powerful that the energy moved there anyway - but I still remember the shock of the terribly messy instruction set on the PCs after switching from the nice and clean 68k.
For me personally that was when I stopped. It was simply not joyful to work with.
I thought it was just me.
We had computer clubs in many cities. Clubs had their zines.
These were focal points for meeting other would-be sceners.
The demo scene was organised in groups with members spread around the country, so we would go to some of the many “copy parties” in the weekends to meet and show off coding skills or music or puzzle over reverse engineering games.
The dense European geography and good public transport was a big factor, too. Without a car and not old enough for a license, I remember taking the bus to Viborg to hang out with people from their big computer club for the weekends, some of whom had published games commercially. This was a great inspiration, too.
I certainly miss those days!
Also, note how the vast majority of demoscene groups were in Scandinavia, places with long winters.
After reading Wikipedia article I'm still a little bit confused. Could someone do a ELI5?
It dates back to when early games and software were pirated by teams. Each team would try and leave their intro video in the game as their signature, trying to one up each other.
Then it just turned into it's own form of competitive Development.
Basically you get some incredibly small amount of memory, and it's about trying to be as clever as possible to get the coolest visuals in there.
Many prominent graphics engineers were involved. Some of them even worked at studios like Pixar, making things like the vegetation systems on Brave.
And such people (as people do) tend to coagulate into a community around that interest, sharing results and techniques and overall socializing!
I'm from Brazil and wasn't even born yet at the time, but if you want to easily see a bit of what demos were, one of their "modern equivalents", so to speak, would be Shadertoy . There are also videos of old demos, and I'm sure there are archives of the programs, but I haven't searched for them either.
It is celebrating a cultural movement during a moment in time.
It has certainly shaped a fairly large group of people currently working in our industry, even if they were only tangentially aware of the scene (perhaps with cracked games as a gateway drug, as it was in my case).
Kudos for getting this organized.
And as always it's a team effort: https://twitter.com/Dedux/status/1374040818810548228?s=20 & see also http://demoscene-the-art-of-coding.net/supporters/
It will take some more years to get from a country level to an international application. So we are still looking for more (ex)-sceners and supporters helping to file applications in more countries - so if that resonates with you, don´t hesitate to get in touch or join our Discord. http://demoscene-the-art-of-coding.net/demosceners/
Eg: an "intro" means a demo made against a size limit. It's called an intro because cracked games were spread with little introductory animations (sine-scrollers, chiptunes, you know the drill) by the cracking groups. These couldn't take too much space lest the game got too big to easily distribute. Then, people started making intros without having a game to distribute them with, and the rest is history.
But that's >30 years ago now and we still use the same term and the same size limits (4k, 64k) as back then.
Preserving something good does not mean not accepting new developments. And sometimes, especially with architecture, "something good" can be an ensemble of stuff - e.g. you don't put a modernist glass/steel building on the town square of a picturesque medieval town.
For some cultural/creative practices that are dear to me, I'd be ok with seeing them die out than become bureaucratised/preserved/reified. On the other hand, I love classical music, which could scarcely be less institutionalised and sclerotic, and I value historical, ethnographical and scholarly work about culture. I have all these slightly-conflicting feelings at once.
It's tragic how much stuff related to computers, their history and their software we've lost already.
The Demoscene fits right in, as a short lived subculture that grew out of a radical democratization of technology.
It's long been frustrating to see curations of digital art that conspicuously exclude the scene. And now the little subculture I participate in is suddenly internationally recognized!
I truly hope that this means we'll start seeing curated digital art shows that are displays of the depth, breadth, and history of the scene.
As a young wannabe technologist who grew up in very rural America. The scene was one of not only the first online scenes I encountered, but also some of the first people I regularly interacted with internationally...irrevocably bursting the insular bubble it's so easy to fall into in rural America.
Sodan & Magician 42 - TechTech - Amiga Demo
And new tricks on old hardware. I always muse over what current gear could really do.
People have had the same canceling ideas before but with their own cultural filters. Iconoclasts destroyed ancient artwork, and Chinese communists destroyed ancient things in the cultural revolution.
Imagine if all historical records of ancient Greece or Rome had been expunged of objectionable content as decided by every dominant culture that existed between then and now. We would have almost nothing left.
What is the demoscene's take on NFTs?
No horse in the race, just interested to hear what the general attitude is.
Ah yes, the experts who arbitrary decide such matters based on politics and tourist revenue estimations.
So has Currywürst been a part of German culture for decades, but apparently it is not included, perhaps because it's fastfood. — our overlords move in mysterious ways.