Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Toilet Paper #5 & #6

Thanks to Lowcola, we can present you two lost and forgotten paper magazine issues from the Finnish Amiga scene. Toilet Paper #5 and #6 both came out simultaneously in December 1991 – for reasons not completely clear. Lowcola writes: “The team had a goal of publishing 6-10 magazines, had enough material, but around December they wanted to take a holiday break, so I figure they ended up making a double issue.” The magazine was obviously not a semi-professional untertaking of the scene’s “elite”, like Illegal, Pirates, and other well-known mags, but rather the work of “average” teenage sceners. If they would have been active nowadays, they probably would have poured their desire for self-expression into a Tumblr blog or a MySpace page. One can see the editors desperately struggling for content, filling up the space with random pictures, font samples, and rather questionable teenage humour. However, as members of the scene, they were quite well-connected. They managed to interview a member of the UK cracking group Mirage, and judging from the published readers’ letters and swapping ads, the magazine circulated as far as Turkey and South Africa.

You can download the OCR’d scans here (#5) and here (#6).

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C64 Sleeves & Stickers

Once again, we received some byproducts of hedning‘s C64 excavations: two stickers by the 1980s cracking group “Software of Sweden”, plus a number of C64 disk covers from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. The disk sleeve by Case/Energy is a particular beauty – hand-drawn exclusively for his swapping partner and not just a photocopied semi-mass-product like most scene disk covers, and looking very “timeless” in a way.

Software of Sweden sticker, ~1987-1989 [metadata]
Software of Sweden sticker (personalised), ~1987-1989 [metadata]
• Disk sleeve by Case/Energy, 1992 [metadata]
Crazy disk cover by Logoboy(?), 1990s [metadata]
Extend disk cover by Electric, 1990s [metadata]
Paragon disk cover by Hellraiser, ~1989-1991 [metadata]
Rock’n Role rubber-stamped disk sleeve by T.O.XIC, 1991 [metadata]
ROLE disk cover by Kirk, 1989 [metadata]
• “Puzzled” disk cover for Shape by Lord Red, 1994 [metadata]
Trance disk cover by unknown, ~1989-1990 [metadata]
Triad disk cover by Guran, 1992 [metadata]

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Craid’s Amiga Disks

3.5″ floppy disks, used with Amiga computers, were much sturdier than their 5.25″ predecessors from the C64 days. Thus, sceners could not only use them for a much longer time period, but also could subject them to a rougher handling. Disk covers were not needed anymore – instead, swappers left the marks directly on the casings of the disks. Like graffiti taggers, they fought for the best spot on the disk to leave their mark on a medium that was to pass through dozens of sceners’ hands. Even the tiniest unoccupied space was used to squeeze one’s tag onto the plastic surface.

Craid/Haujobb provided us with a small batch of 17 disks from his swapping days. They stem from the mid- to late-1990s. At that time, mail swapping was on the decline due to wide-spread modem usage and the victory march of the internet. Only in Poland, where the Amiga demoscene was vibrant, yet telephone/internet costs were high, mail swapping remained the main means for sceners to exchange data. Thus, the majority of the signatures and scribblings on the disks belong to Polish Amiga scene figures, but also some names of Amiga enthusiasts in Western Europe, like Ghandy, Kure4Cancer, and Craid himself, are seen. These disks are among the most recent remnants of a vibrant culture of digital filesharing networks contructed by analogue means of communication – which existed for nearly two decades, before all-digital “filesharing networks” became the top buzzword of a new age.

You can download the package with high-quality scans here.

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Mixed 1990s Demoparty Stuff

Without further ado, today’s batch consists of demoparty flyers, badges, timetable sheets and the like from the 1990s. The materials were kindly provided by Goat/Laxity, Exocet/JFF, and Ile/Aardbei.

• Dialogos 1999 badge [metadata]
• Place To Be 5 (1997) invitation brochure [metadata]
• Saturne 4 (1996) timetable [metadata]
• The Gathering 1997 flyer [metadata]
• The Party 1997 organiser area sign [metadata]
• The Party 1998 ticket [metadata]
• Volcanic 3 (1997) timetable [metadata]
• Volcanic 4 (1998) timetable [metadata]
• Volcanic 5 (1999) invitation flyer [metadata]
• X’97 Takeover flyer [metadata]

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Tuerk’s Cracker Incorporation

There’s one artifact in our anonymous contributor’s collection which is so unusual that it’s worth dedicating a single post to. On first sight, it’s rather inconspicuous: a 5,25″ C64 disk sleeve from 1987, looking like many others. In fact, while browsing through a disk box, one could mistake it for a random commercial software sleeve – there are no fancy stickers, no scribbling, no graffiti sketches or anything else that normally makes a scene disk cover stand out. However, the inscription, TUERK’S CRACKER INCORPORATION, immediately reveals the sleeve’s subcultural origins. And makes it intriguing in several aspects.

First of all, unlike the overwhelming majority of scene disk covers, this sleeve is industrially produced. It’s made of thick cardboard with a shimmery bronze surface. One can only speculate how expensive it must have been to get the sleeves produced and how a cracker group could afford it. Perhaps, given that boundaries between crackers and small-scale commercial piracy in the mid-1980s were rather vague, and selling cracked games was not necessarily frowned upon, the group made more than just pocket money by providing paying customers with software. And thus they could not only afford fancy sleeves, but actually needed them: since competition on the black market was big, it was important to achieve customer retention by building trust. And trust could be achieved by disk sleeves that looked just as slick as the commercial ones.

Secondly, the back side is particularly interesting. Handling tips for disks were a typical attribute of commercially produced disk sleeves. These, however, were apparently not just copied. The partially awkward English hints towards the fact that they must have been written by the crackers themselves – who seem to have professed quite a sentimental relationship to their magnetic media. If handled wrongly or even given “dirty looks”, the disks might “become offended”, or even worse, suffer “amnesia or madness”. Obviously there’s quite some humour in these lines, but given the prices for good floppy disks in the mid-1980s, a more-than-careful attitude towards floppies is not completely off the hook.

There is not much known about Tuerk’s Cracker Incorporation (TCI). According to CSDb, the group was based in Germany and produced a number of cracks between 1984 and 1986. A search for “tuerk” on scrolltexts.com reveals that TCI were not mere “local lamers” – they were embedded into the (inter)national cracking circuit and were greeted by major groups such as Alpha Flight and Future Projects. TCI’s most likely founder was a swapper going by the name of The Tuerk. According to CSDb, he was a Turkish guy called Tural, hailing from Izmir but living in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Migrants in the early German cracking scene were not completely unheard of, but they were still rather rare. Home computers were a predominantly middle-class commodity, out of reach for children of migrant labourers. 1980s sociological studies on teenage home computer users in Germany point out the very low percentage of migrant children amongst “computer kids”. How did Tural come to call a C64 his own? How did he get into the scene? What was his standing within this predominantly white, middle-class community? We don’t know, but we would be keen to find out. If you know more about Tuerk’s Cracking Incorporation, were a member, or even are The Tuerk himself, please get in touch.

High-quality scans of the sleeve, complete with metadata, can be downloaded here.

PS: After this post went online, Sim/ex-Razor 1911 suggested in a comment on social networks that the strange wording in the disk handling tips may stem from direkt word-for-word translation from Turkish to English.

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Even More C64 Votesheets (Fzool Collection #2)

We processed another batch of C64 diskmagazine votesheets from Fzool‘s vast collection. Spread by post or at demoparties, votesheets were used to produce rankings of the best individuals within the various scene “professions” – programmers, musicians, graphics artists, crackers and so on. Apparently, some people chose to keep them instead of sending them back to the magazine editors – otherwise we wouldn’t have such a pristine collection of them at our disposal…

• Nitro votesheet, 1997 [metadata]
• Palladium votesheet, 1990s [metadata]
• Propaganda votesheet, 1990s [metadata]
• Publication votesheet, 1997 [metadata]
• The Crest votesheet, 1997-1998 [metadata]
• The Pulse votesheet, 1994-1996 [metadata]
• Tiger-Disk votesheet, 1996- [metadata]
• X-Dome votesheet, 1995-1999 [metadata]

The metadata for this batch was compiled and processed by our new volunteer staff member, Pixman from Switzerland. Welcome!

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Early 1990s Amiga Materials

Our faithful contributor S11 sent in another batch of highly interesting scans from the early 1990s Amiga scene. The batch consists of group stickers and copyparty / demoparty invitation leaflets. Particularly the latter are very insightful. Back then, when websites were unheard of, the organisers made sure to cram as much information as possible into the invitation leaflets, which were circulated at parties or spread by mail swappers. Through these leaflets, we can learn about what was considered important about a scene gathering back then, which features were praised as spectacular (such as the amount of prize money), and what sort of behaviour was deemed (in)appropriate. While some parties made piracy a crucial part of their advertisement campaign, others stressed their “legal-only” outlook and appealed to visitors not to engage in any illegal software copying – the differentiation between the cracking– and the demoscene was just beginning…

• Action sticker, early 1990s [metadata]
• Amiga Inc. sticker, 1990s [metadata]
• The Beach Party 1992 invitation leaflet [metadata]
• Birdhouse Projects sticker, 1990s [metadata]
• Factor5 sticker, 1990s [metadata]
• Hardline sticker, 1990s [metadata]
• Hurricane & Brutal Summer Party 1992 invitation leaflet [metadata]
• Infect sticker, 1990s [metadata]
• Maximum Pleasure Copyparty 1991 invitation leaflet [metadata]
• Sun’n’Fun Conference 1992 invitation leaflet [metadata]
• Targets sticker, 1990s [metadata]

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C64 Group Stickers

Our project welcomes a new permanent collaborator – hedning, who is well-known in the C64 scene for his relentless preservation efforts, saving the contents of old floppy disks from oblivion. As a first batch, he presents us with a number of group stickers found on said disks, as well as a rare scan of a scener-owned Commodore REU. The RAM expansion unit provided the C64 with additional memory and was thus a helpful gadget for swappers for copying disks.

• Active sticker, 1990s (1) [metadata]
• Active sticker, 1990s (2) [metadata]
• Byterapers sticker, unknown (1) [metadata]
• Byterapers sticker, unknown (2) [metadata]
• F4CG sticker, 1990s (1) [metadata]
• F4CG sticker, 1990s (2) [metadata]
• Genesis Project sticker, 1990s [metadata]
• Hitmen sticker, 1996 [metadata]
• Nostalgia sticker, 1990s [metadata]
• Commodore REU owned by Walker/G*P [metadata]