Trackers: The Rise, Bloom and Later Developments of a Paradigm

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Trackers are music software whose history spans over thirty decades. They are tightly linked to the history of home computers, and they made previously un-reachable digital composition tools available to enthusiasts in the 1980s. Over the years trackers have been used both for commercial and non-commercial purposes, for example games and demos, and they have given rise to lively hobbyist communities. In this article, I go through the history of trackers, their characteristics and typical uses. The study is based on the analysis of 60 tracker programs and six interviews of their creators. The findings highlight the tight link between trackers and computer hardware, the reasons why authors wanted to create such software, and the gradual evolution of the paradigm.
Translated title of the contributionTrackers: The Rise, Bloom and Later Developments of a Paradigm
Original languageFinnish
Pages (from-to)14–31
Number of pages18
Issue number2–3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • demoscene
  • music technology
  • Digital culture


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