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Stickers from XXX

Many active demosceners know XXX as a tireless organiser, being a driving force behind the Haujobb demogroup and the Evoke demoparty, and a well-known party animal. Far less known, however, are his roots in the late 1980s and early 1990s Amiga scene as a member of the group Agnostic Front. A while ago, XXX provided us with some scene stickers from the time period, which we are finally able to put online. Of particular interest is the “Business Rules… and Friendship sucks” sticker from 1993. This sticker, a poignant commentary on the elitist thinking and commercialization of the early 1990s Amiga scene, was produced by the “Friendship Movement”, an alliance of Amiga groups initiated by the group Spreadpoint. The background of this initiative can be read in an article in the Amiga diskmag Stolen Data from 1990.

• three Agnostic Front stickers, early 1990s [scan&metadata 1] [scan&metadata 2] [scan&metadata 3]
• Animators sticker, early 1990s [scan&metadata]
• “Commodore Amiga 500 – Computer des Jahres 1990” sticker, 1990 [scan&metadata]
• Friendship Movement sticker, 1993 [scan&metadata]

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Honey/1001 Collection Pt. 3

Finally, here is part 3 from the vast collection of letters kindly given to us by Honey of 1001 Crew. They stem from 1986-1988, the heyday of C64 the cracking scene, and among the authors you can find prominent figures such as Weetibix/Scouse Cracking Group and Ixion/Triad. The letters allow a glimpse into the inner workings of the international C64 cracking circuit, full of high passion about greeting lists, flame wars, stolen trade secrets, and, last not least, friendship across borders. Enjoy, and expect more very soon!

• Dirk/D.S. Compware (Germany) to Honey, ~1986-1987 [scan&metadata]
• Ixion/Triad (Sweden) to Honey, March 1987 [scan&metadata]
• Ixion/Triad (Sweden) to Honey, 1987 [scan&metadata]
• Jaws/Boys Without Brains (Netherlands) to Honey, October 1986 [scan&metadata]
• Jaws/Boys Without Brains (Netherlands) to Honey, 1986 [scan&metadata]
• Player =1=/Bencor Bros. (USA) to all contacts, 1986 [scan&metadata]
• Player =1=/Bencor Bros. (USA) to Honey, 1986 [scan&metadata]
• Player =1=/Bencor Bros. (USA) to Honey, 10 September 1987 [scan&metadata]
• Player =1=/Bencor Bros. (USA) to Honey, 1987 [scan&metadata]
• Raphael/D.S. Compware (Germany) to Honey, ~1986-1987 [scan&metadata]
• Weetibix/Scouse Cracking Group (UK) to Honey, 27 April 1987 [scan&metadata]
• Weetibix/Scouse Cracking Group (UK) to Honey, 1987 [scan&metadata]
• Weetibix/Scouse Cracking Group (UK) to Honey, 1988 [scan&metadata]

Computer Subcultures Conference + Film

It has been quite around this project in the past weeks – for a particular reason. Together with Julia Erdogan and Markku Reunanen, I’m organising an international scholarly conference on the history of digital subcultures and their place in society in the age of early home computing.

The conference will take place on March 24-25, 2017, at the University of Zurich in the Collegium Helveticum. We’ll have a diverse programme with speakers from Finland, Germany, the US, the Czech Republic, Poland, Greece and Switzerland. You can check out the two-day programme here. Attendance is free for all, yet you should pre-register due to limited seats.

On the evening of March 24, at 7pm, there will be a film screening. We’re happy to host the premiere of Konstantin Stürz’s new documentary on the early days of the cracking and demo scene – featuring interviews with Bacchus, Irata, E$G, Ziphoid and other well-known C64 & Amiga scene veterans. The director will be present to discuss the documentary with the audience. The screening will take place in the main university building, lecture theatre KOL-F-118, and is free for all to attend – the more show up, the better!

And when all this is over, there will be more scans posted here again…

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Gentleman collection

“…so keep the paper-letters!”, insisted Hungarian swapper Messerschmitt in a letter to his German penpal Gentleman (also known as Risk and Galahad). And, luckily, he did! We are happy to put online his small paper archive, containing Amiga scene materials from the period between 1994 and 1998. Apart from letters from all over Europe, there are some demoparty– and diskmagazine-related flyers and, most interestingly, a nice collection of Ami-Expo/World of Commodore/Computer trade fair tickets. These trade fairs, held in Cologne/Germany, were an important meeting point for sceners.

Letters from:

• Beeblebrox/Orion (Germany), 30 June 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Case78 (Germany), ~1995 [scan&metadata]
• cOcOOn/Vision (Germany), 1994 [scan&metadata]
• cOcOOn/Vision (Germany), 1994 (Post-It note) [scan&metadata]
• Drago/Insane (Finland), ~1994 [scan&metadata]
• Exumer/Sanity (Germany), ~1993-1995 [scan&metadata]
• Ghandy/Bonzai Bros. (Germany), ~1994 [scan&metadata]
• Kalikone/Dylem (Switzerland), ~1996 [scan&metadata]
• Karpow/Scoopex (Finland), 8 November 1995 [scan&metadata]
• Ledge/In-Sect (Denmark), 18 January 1998 [scan&metadata]
• Messerschmitt/Ram Jam (Hungary), ~1994 [scan&metadata]
• Messerschmitt/Ram Jam (Hungary), ~1993-1994 [scan&metadata]
• Reval/Pulse (Germany), ~1994 [scan&metadata]
• Sir Jinx/Neoplasia (Germany), 15 July 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Sir Jinx/Illusion (Germany), ~1994 [scan&metadata]
• The Trendy Dealer/Ram Jam (Italy), 31 August 1994 [scan&metadata]
• The Trendy Dealer/Ram Jam (Italy), 3 November 1994 [scan&metadata]

Party & diskmag stuff:

• Ami-Expo ’91 ticket [scan&metadata]
• Ami-Expo ’92 ticket [scan&metadata]
• World of Commodore ’93 ticket [scan&metadata]
• Computer ’94 ticket [scan&metadata]
• Computer ’95 ticket [scan&metadata]
• Computer ’96 ticket [scan&metadata]
• Compass diskmag flyer [scan&metadata]
• Dead End diskmag votesheet [scan&metadata]
• GASP 1995 invitation (international version) [scan&metadata]
• Nexus 1995 visitor badge [scan&metadata]

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AD a.k.a. Rough Collection, Part 1

We are very happy to have another swapletters archive at our disposal. Austrian C64 scener AD/Alpha Flight sent us a large box filled with letters from back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was known as Rough, lived in Germany, and was members of illustrous groups such as Chromance, The Ancient Temple, and Hitmen. Today, we give you the first batch of this rich collection, reflecting the scope of Rough’s contacts and bearing some scene history gems – such as two letters by the legendary Hungarian scener Mr. Wax; a circular letter of a C64 coder offering his intro programming services for money; or the invitation letter to an obscure copyparty.

Letters from:
• Captain Freedom/Atrix (Belgium), ~1989-1990 [metadata]
• Exorcist/Saga-Time (Germany), 13 April 1990 [metadata]
• Jayce/Paradize (Sweden), early 1990s [metadata]
• Mad/Ironstyle (Germany), 18 October 1990 [metadata]
• Mr. Wax/Chromance (Hungary), early 1990s [metadata]
• Mr. Wax/Chromance (Hungary), 8 September 1994 [metadata]
• Painkiller/Chromance (Hungary), after May 1991 [metadata]

plus:
• Circular letter from Boozer/AMOK (Germany), ~1989-1990 [metadata]
• Titan Party 1990 invitation [metadata]

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Polish & Finnish Demoparty Materials

Here are some new additions to the archive: demoparty materials from the 1990s to the 2010s, donated by Thoron (Finland) and Willy (Poland). Now we have an nice collection of visitor badges from the Riverwash and Symphony demoparty series, two more visitor brochures so typical for 1990s demoparties, and two AltParty 2008 posters – one of them announcing the legendary EBM band Front 242, who really played a gig there.

• Alternative Party 2008 poster (Front 242) [metadata]
• Alternative Party 2008 poster [metadata]
• Assembly 1995 visitor brochure [metadata]
• Assembly 1996 visitor brochure [metadata]
• Riverwash 2008 badge [metadata]
• Riverwash 2009 badge [metadata]
• Riverwash 2010 badge [metadata]
• Riverwash 2011 badge [metadata]
• Symphony 2002 badge [metadata]
• Symphony 2003 badge [metadata]
• Symphony 2004 badge [metadata]
• Symphony 2005 badge [metadata]
• Symphony 2006 badge [metadata]
• WeCan 2012 badge [metadata]

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A Bunch of Lost “Illegals”

Our quest for lost issues of the legendary papermag “Illegal” continues – and we just got a big step closer towards “catching ’em all”. Thanks to AVH/Radwar, here are issues #28, #32, #34, #35, and #38 (the last one). Stemming from between 1988 and 1991, the magazine’s phase of highest influence in the C64 cracking scene, these issues feature graphics by Hobbit/Fairlight and, inbetween a lot of silly nonsense, a wealth of materials and information on the scene. Click on the links at the issue numbers to download the scan PDFs.

 

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Crackers and the Transnational Late-Cold War Black Market

While going through the letter archives of Honey/1001 and Skylab & General Zoff/The Movers, I stumbled upon two letters that stood out from the rest – not because the authors were particularly “elite” or because they revealed some spectacular secrets, but because they were sent from late-socialist Yugoslavia.

• Dragoslav V. (Yugoslavia) to 1001 Crew (The Netherlands), 15 December 1986 [metadata]
• Tigersoft (Yugoslavia) to New Balance Bochum (Germany), 3 February 1987 [metadata]

These artefacts from a long gone past point to a less-known aspect of the early cracking scene that ought to be explored in depth: The transnational connections between cracking groups in the “centres” and semi-commercial software piracy in the “periphery”. Until the late 1980s, the major home computer brands were marketed almost exclusively in “Western” countries – yet there was a growing number of computer users both in the socialist camp and in other world regions such as Southern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, where people were able to obtain home computers through the black market or through travelling friends and relatives.

In order to be of any use, the machines had to be “fed” with software – and that’s where small-scale grey area entrepreneurship came in. Due to the almost complete lack of computer-related copyright laws, black market software peddlers were able to operate almost unrestricted, selling disks on street markets (like the famous computer bazaars in Poland) or even running small shops (like in Greece and many Latin American countries). Obviously, the disks they sold were mostly releases by European and US cracking groups, arriving through the twisted paths of 1980s software exchange. Often the programs still carried the original crack intros, and sometimes the black market entrepreneurs would make and add intros of their own – resorting to cracktro aesthetics, yet advetizing their shops or market stalls. It is thanks to these activities that the cracking- and in the long run the demoscene was able to develop in countries outside the West European and North American centres of the software industry: people who bought software copies complete with crack intros started wondering what they were, how to make them, and eventually became productive sceners themselves.

The more enterprising “commercial pirates” did not just wait until a cracked game would fall into their hands. They actively pursued contacts to cracking groups and tried to negotiate a steady supply of cracked software – like the two Yugoslav pirates whose letters you can see above. They did not assume the role of humble petitioners, but acted as self-confident experts who knew exactly what they wanted (“no freez frame, no icepick” [sic]). Serving quality cracks to the local computer users, they – nolens volens – became the pioneers of the world-wide triumphant march of the home computer.

The exact circumstances of these transnational software exchange practices are, just like many aspects of early home computing, still to be explored. Were you a black market software dealer in the 1980s in regions outside the US and (North-)Western Europe? Or were you a member of a cracking group in the “West” who was on the other end of such contacts? Then please get in touch!

Gleb J. Albert

Further reading on 1980s black market software exchange outside the “West”

AJ, and Nafcom. The Peruvian Scene. Scene World Podcast, 13 December 2014. http://sceneworld.org/blog/2014/12/13/podcast-episode-3-the-peruvian-scene/.
Grussu, Alessandro. Spectrumpedia. Roma: UniversItalia, 2012.
Lekkas, Theodoros. “Legal Pirate Ltd. Home Computing Cultures in Early 1980s Greece”. In Hacking Europe: From Computer Cultures to Demoscenes, ed. by Gerard Alberts and Ruth Oldenziel, 73–103. London: Springer, 2014.
Lord Lotek. “Ein schöner Traum. Interview mit Hades6510”. Lotek64, no. 7 (2003): 3–4.
Marisca Alvarez, Eduardo. “Developing Game Worlds. Gaming, Technology, and Innovation in Peru”. MA thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014. http://marisca.pe/files/EM-DGW-Final.pdf.
Švelch, Jaroslav. “Selling Games by the Kilo. Using Oral History to Reconstruct Informal Economies of Computer Game Distribution in the Post-Communist Environment”. In Game\\Play\\Society. Contributions to Contemporary Computer Game Studies, ed. by Christian Swertz and Michael Wagner, 265–76. München: kopaed, 2010.
the woz. “La escena cracker en Argentina”. Retrocomputación, 4 September 2009. http://www.retrocomputacion.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.15.
Wasiak, Patryk. “Playing and Copying. Social Practices of Home Computer Users in Poland During the 1980s”. In Hacking Europe: From Computer Cultures to Demoscenes, ed. by Gerard Alberts and Ruth Oldenziel, 129–50. London: Springer, 2014.
Wasiak, Patryk. “The East is Coming! The Demoscene in Eastern Europe”. Rhizome, 21 May 2010. http://rhizome.org/editorial/2010/may/21/the-east-is-coming-the-demoscene-in-eastern-europe.
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Atari Party Stuff

The Atari scene was largely absent from “Got Papers” until now – but luckily, Atari scene archivist Lotek Style provided us with some demoparty and meeting invitations, flyers and tickets from the 1990s, including some rare ones. A particularly interesting tradition of Atari parties seems to be the translation of the invitations into multiple language, demonstrated by the rather awkward German flyers in this batch. Hopefully we can present more Atari stuff soon!

• Animal Mine Convention 2 (1995) invitation [metadata]
• Atari Hody 2001 invitation (German) [metadata]
• Fried Bits 1995 invitation booklet [metadata]
• Gigafun 1996 ticket [metadata]
• Gigafun 1997 flyer (German) [metadata]
• Gigafun 1997 invitation booklet [metadata]
• Gigafun 1997 ticket [metadata]
• JEM 1998 invitation booklet [metadata]
• Kindergeburtstag 2000 invitation [metadata]
• Nordic Atari Show 1995 invitation (German) [metadata]
• QuaST (Orneta) 1997 invitation (unofficial English) [metadata]
• Siliconvention 1997 newspaper article [metadata]

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C64 Stickers & Votesheets from Cupid’s Collection

A while ago, in proper mail swapping fashion, we received a few thick envelopes from London full of scene artefacts. The sender was Cupid, a prolific C64 graphics artist and diskmagazine editor active in the 1990s, and nowadays a sought-after IT professional. Today, we present you with some stickers and votesheets from his collection.

Active sticker, 1990s [metadata]
Avantgarde sticker sheets, 1990s [metadata]
AvantgART sticker design, 1990s [metadata]
Cupid/F4CG sticker design, 1990s [metadata]
Hitmen sticker, 1996 [metadata]
Sinister of Extacy sticker, 1994 [metadata]
Controversial votesheet, 1994 [metadata]
Extacy Land votesheet, 1993 [metadata]
Narcotic votesheet, 1993 [metadata]
Outdoor votesheet, 1994 [metadata]
Skyhigh votesheet, 1993-1994 [metadata]
The Link votesheet, 1992-1993 [metadata]
The Tribune votesheets, 1993 [metadata] and 1994 [metadata]