Demo Scene

See also: Demo

The demo scene was/is is an underground multimedia programming community, existing since the rise of cracking groups showing off their coding skills in colorful loader screens for games. In time, the art of demo creation emancipated itself from the shadows of the crackers and lived a semi-legal existence, with the elite maintaining close relations to their former roots. The scene has changed a lot since the nineties and people left the underground and funded start-ups or got lost in your local subsidized low-rent housing. apart from this, there are still lots of great demos seeing light… <enter good link here>

�What is a Demo?
A demo is a program that displays a sound, music, and light show, usually in 3D. Demos are very fun to watch, because they seemingly do things that aren’t possible on the machine they were programmed on.
Essentially, demos “show off”. They do so in usually one, two, or all three of three methods:
  • They show off the computer’s hardware abilities (3D objects, multi-channel sound, etc.)
  • They show off the creative abilities of the demo group (artists, musicians)
  • They show off the programmer’s abilities (fast 3D shaded polygons, complex motion, etc.)
Demos are an art form. They blend mathematics, programming skill, and creativity into something incredible to watch and listen to.
Grant Smith puts it another way:
Jonny looks around, confused, his train of thought disrupted. He collects himself, and stares at the teacher with a steady eye. “I want to code demos,” he says, his words becoming stronger and more confidant as he speaks. “I want to write something that will change people’s perception of reality. I want them to walk away from the computer dazed, unsure of their footing and eyesight. I want to write something that will reach out of the screen and grab them, making heartbeats and breathing slow to almost a halt. I want to write something that, when it is finished, they are reluctant to leave, knowing that nothing they experience that day will be quite as real, as insightful, as good. I want to write demos.”
Silence. The class and the teacher stare at Jonny, stunned. It is the teachers turn to be confused. Jonny blushes, feeling that something more is required. “Either that or I want to be a fireman.”
– Grant Smith, 14:32, 11/21/93�

(from “PC Demos Explained” at

It is the nature of demos to appear on any platform possible – that’s part of the game. Check out the Acorn, Texas Instruments TI92 and C-64 (still going strong i suppose) scenes for further evidence.

The most important demos were (from my humble point of view) ‘Unreal’ and ‘Panic’ by the Future Crew marking the rise of the multimeda age in x86 PCs, that one from Triton, leading the path into vector graphics and ‘We Hate Your Media’ by Koooma, defining the end of a ‘multimedia underground’ which had massive influence on mainstream game/tech/tool/programming development…. Still there are lots of great demos coming out, but it’s not what it has been in the nineties (again, imho, current activists will have different opinions, i did retire in 1996 and visited my last ‘the party’ in 1999)…

TakeDown.NET -> “Demo-Scene