The community of readers at Hackade is diverse and talented, and provides us with lots of inspiration, feedback, knowledge and of course great things to show you. There are many streams of interest in this, but it is safe to say that we are more directed towards the hardware scene here. One of the most parallel streams that overlaps is demosin, the field where programming, art and music come together and push the computer hardware to its limits to follow the most interesting tasks. I took a road trip with my friend to a small demo party outline at a farm in the eastern Netherlands to get a closer look at the demo world as a hardware-centric outsider.
Like a hacker camp, but the music is better
If I wanted to add a taste to the outline, I would describe it as a small hacker camp, with better music and partying. Hackerspaces are replaced by demo groups and are replaced by great graphics robots and electronics, but the vibe of people with a keen interest in low-level understanding of technology is exactly the same. Even make a look at something of the same face. The benches feature classic consoles and microcomputers as well as modern high-spec PCs, projector screens with live coding shaders or some of the most recognized demos of the past and present, and an eclectic mix of live-DJ EDMs and chiptunes in the air.
It’s hard to appreciate the work from a comparative point of view as an outsider in the first demosin event, while like most of us I’m familiar with several demos that have become popular I’m not equipped enough to talk about code and the techniques behind them but I can run in different divisions of competition, and Since everything is online I can link to a few of them. The competition is divided into several categories, namely All-Out Technology-No-Object Demo, Space-Limited 256 Bytes and 128 Bytes Demos, and Old-School Demos for Retrocomputing Hardware. It’s a test of every programmer’s ability to fit in the least amount of resources, and for those who appreciate such things, it’s the trick of the technique that creates the demo that draws a lot like the look of the thing. I don’t think I’ve ever mastered any of the computers I own. So browse the entries, and be amazed at their cleverness. My personal aesthetic was enriched by the favorite [Agenda] For the TIC-80 Fantasy console and It’s about time By [Guideline] For Windows, but you may have different tastes.
Don’t forget the hardware
Outside of the atmosphere and demos, retrocomputers had some hardware for enthusiasts. Atari Falcon and Jaguar had no intention of setting the earth on fire when they appeared, but they were there for those of us who lusted after them again.
If the original hardware wasn’t enough, some new minted retrocomputing hardware created an exhibition showing a few minimig Amiga FPGA board workbenches. Although the star of the hardware show went to Mine Storm 4D, a version of the classic Vectrex game Mine storm Looking Glass Factory is running on a PC to display holographic portraits. I didn’t get the 3D effect with my visual superpower, but I certainly got the holographic effect when I moved my head.
I never knew what to expect without going to a demo party, but I can safely say that I had a great time, saw a lot of really great things and made some friends along the way. If you never go to a demo party because it’s not quite your scene then I can only say that you should let it go. Every hardware hacker must go to a demo party!