Computer Demos – What Makes Them Tick?

Research output: ThesisLicenciate's thesis


This licentiate thesis deals with a worldwide community of hobbyists called the demoscene. The activities of the community in question revolve around real-time multimedia demonstrations known as demos. The historical frame of the study spans from the late 1970s, and the advent of affordable home computers up to 2009. So far little academic research has been conducted on the topic and the number of other publications is almost equally low. The work done by other researchers is discussed and additional connections are made to other related fields of study such as computer history and media research. The material of the study consists principally of demos, contemporary disk magazines and online sources such as community websites and archives. A general overview of the demoscene and its practices is provided to the reader as a foundation for understanding the more in-depth topics. One chapter is dedicated to the analysis of the artifacts produced by the community and another to the discussion of the computer hardware in relation to the creative aspirations of the community members. The purpose of the thesis is the documentation of the demoscene and its numerous practices. In the current void of demo-related research the study can serve as a stepping stone for other researchers. Among the most important findings are the highly self-reflective nature of the community, the connections between technology and expression, and the positioning of the underground activities in a wider historical context. A large part of the community and its artifacts still remain uncharted, suggesting several possibilities for further studies.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationLicentiate's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Takala, Tapio, Supervising Professor
Publication statusPublished - 2010
MoE publication typeG3 Licentiate thesis


  • Computer demos
  • Digital culture
  • Home computers
  • Multimedia


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