We’re back from a long hiatus – with some spectacular material! In another instalment of scans from the archive of legendary Dutch C64 coder Honey of the 1001 Crew, we present you with letters that were written to him by a equally legendary scene protagonist: Mr. Z, the founder of the famous Swedish C64 cracking group Triad. Written throughout the year of 1987, these eight long letters are a treasure trove in various aspects. If you are a veteran cracker yourself, or simply someone who is interested in copy protection, you will enjoy reading a top cracker discussing protection methods and their circumvention – especially since in one of the later letters, Mr. Z offers to write the copy protection for Honey’s first commercial game. And this is another aspect of interest for those who are into home computing and scene history: Here, we can observe a generation of elite sceners making their first steps from the subculture into the industry – while still being basically schoolkids, discussing sophisticated code and their first business deals alongside the latest pranks and scene gossip. Finally, the letters document Mr. Z’s pullout from Triad and from the scene altogether – with school and “real life” taking hold over someone whose group was adored by tens of thousands computer kids worldwide.
Read these fascinating letters in the gallery below, or download the high quality scans complete with metadata sheets (which also document the scavenger hunt we had to undertake to provide date estimates for these almost completely undated documents) under the following links: April 1987 // April 1987 (2) // late May 1987 // late June 1987 // 30 July 1987 // August 1987 // September-October 1987 // November-December 1987
We’re back with some materials that remind you of the materiality of “warez trading” in the 1980s. In these envelopes from The Movers‘ collection, floppy disks with the newest C64 and Amiga cracks and demos travelled around Europe between 1986 and 1988. Most people reused them and ultimately threw them away, but luckily these guys didn’t. There’s a whole box of them in our office now, and here’s just a small selection – featuring sendings from Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland. As usual, you can download the high quality scans and metadata from the archive, or view the pictures in the gallery below.
Once again we are proud to present a few documents from a rare genre – criminal proceedings against scene members. This time, it’s German C64 scener TMA/Abyss Connection who supplied us with documents from the proceedings of the criminal case against him in 1990-1991.
In April 1990, the police had conducted a house search at another scener’s home (who apparently was a member of the Austrian group Lazer), where they found an address book containing TMA’s address. This resulted in a search warrant, which ordered the local police to confiscate from TMA’s home “disks; computers and [other] machines for the manufacturing and copying of disks, such as computers with disk drives, tape-to-tape recorders; counterfeit print materials, stickers, backup disks etc.; customers’ addresses, bank statements, word processing programs etc.” (p. 1-2). The wording was obviously made to match commercial piracy rather than hobbyist activism. The house search was conducted a few months later, resulting in about 200 disks, PLK cards and postal envelopes (but no address books) being confiscated (p. 3-4). Despite the seemingly vast evidence, the case, like so often, came to a halt: In May 1991, TMA’s parents were informed by the public prosecutor that the proceedings have been stopped “as [your son] has been warned enough through the consequences of his actions. I assume that in the future he will conduct himself orderly when it comes to the usage of computer programs, and ask you to undertake educational measures” (p. 5-6). After getting off so lightly, TMA even received one (!) disk back (p. 7-8).
You can view the scans in the gallery below, or download them from our archive here.
Today we present you with some more Amiga disks from the collection of Thorion a.k.a. Smily, a German Amiga swapper and graphics artist who was active in the late 1980s and the early 1990s and whose letters we featured here some months ago. Full of stickers and scribbles, they remind us about the materiality of data exchange in the era before the mass availability of the internet. You can download the high-quality scans in our archive, or browse the pictures below.
By the way, if anyone wants to talk to me about Got Papers?, hand over some materials etc., the Evoke demoparty in August in Cologne/Germany would be a good place to do so!
There haven’t been any C64 disk covers here for a while, so here are some from Cupid‘s collection. They stem from 1993 to 1998, and include some real gems.
• Accept disk cover by Quevis, 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Accept disk cover by Quevis, 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Antic disk cover by Earthquake, 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Arise disk cover by Junkie, 1997 [scan&metadata]
• Avantgarde disk cover by FX, 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Crossline disk cover by Mr. Friese, 1993 [scan&metadata]
• Crossline disk cover by Mr. Friese, 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Crypt disk cover by Mr. Friese, 1990s [scan&metadata]
• Digital Designs disk cover by Starlight, 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Doom Patrol disk cover by Sin-1, 1997 [scan&metadata]
• Hitmen disk cover by FX, 1997 [scan&metadata]
• Holy Refuge disk cover by Junkie & FX, 1997 [scan&metadata]
• Ingenious Brain disk cover by Mr. Friese, 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Mendip #4 disk cover by Ixion, 1994 [scan&metadata]
• Resistance Is Futile disk cover by FX, 1998 [scan&metadata]
• Sinister disk cover by Sinister, 1990s [scan&metadata]
• Starlight disk cover by Sin-1, 1997 [scan&metadata]
• The Best #8 disk cover by Zapotek, 1997 [scan&metadata]
In previous updates, we treated you to letters from the scene‘s top protagonists. But what about the countless average guys whom these “elites” would usually have considered “lamers”, but who were, in fact, the backbone of the formers’ popularity – by spreading their products and making their names “big” in the first place? The voices of these bystanders and “rank and file” sceners are a blank spot in scene preservation, as they often left no traces in terms of releases. Luckily, with the letter collection of Thorion (a.k.a. Thomas or Smily), we can make a step towards closing this gap. In the letters exchange between him and his Amiga penpals around 1990, one gets a glimpse of teenage computer fans swapping PD software and demos (and the occasional “Raubi”, as in “pirate copy”), following the developments of the scene, teaching each other scene-related skills, and occasionally making it to the ranks of the “elites” (like Thorion himself, who would do a brief stunt as graphics artist in TRSI in 1992 before quitting the Amiga world altogether).
You can download the scans of these 32 (German-language) letters, complete with metadata, here – or view them in the gallery below.
And as a bonus, the collection includes a document from a different fringe of the scene – namely pirate groups who would branch out into the “real” shadow economy, selling software and hardware for hard cash. The detailed advert from the Amiga group Vision Factory, offering all sorts of illicit computer products, can be downloaded here. According to a long-time VF member, this operation was maintained by two members from Northern Germany, without any coordination with the group leadership (and without sharing any of the profits)…
After a break, we can present you another instalment of the vast New Balance Bochum / The Movers collection. This time it’s not just letters, but also party invitations, stickers, and other artefacts from the European 1980s C64 / Amiga cracking scene. There are highly interesting materials among these papers, such as shopping lists for originals in London; a contemporary memberlist of Elite (which was kept secret at the time); an early circular letter from Fairlight; Venlo party tickets; and much more… You can find detailed information on many of the documents, including details provided by Skylab, in the metadata sheets.
• Letter from Digital Marketing to betatesters of COP SHOCKER, 30 Jan 1989 [scan/metadata]
• Address sticker by Executor/Damage Inc., ~1987 [scan/metadata]
• Circular letter from Fairlight to all Amiga contacts, 1988 [scan/metadata]
• Letter (draft) from General Zoff/Elite (Germany) to Thor & Zeus/Teesside Cracking Service (UK), 1989 [scan/metadata]
• Holly/FAME disk cover, 1980s [scan/metadata]
• Letter from Laffen/Raw Deal Inc. (Norway) to Skylab/The Movers (Germany), 1987 [scan/metadata]
• List of London software shops, compiled by Skylab, ~1986 [scan/metadata]
• The Movers and the Stormtrooper Atari sticker sheet, 1987 [scan/metadata]
• Newsroom disk, 1980s [scan/metadata]
• Scouse Cracking Group disk protection cardboard, 1980s [scan/metadata]
• The Organized Crime Copyparty 1987 invitation [scan/metadata]
• The Orgasmatron Crew sticker sheet, 1987 [scan/metadata]
• Triad & Fairlight Copyparty 1987 invitation [scan/metadata]
• Venlo Party April 1989 ticket [scan/metadata]
• Venlo Party December 1991 ticket [scan/metadata]
• Letter from Zeke Wolf/Triad (Sweden) to Skylab/The Movers (Germany), 1987 [scan/metadata]
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]
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]
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…