[also ‘demo scene’] A culture of multimedia hackers located primarily in Scandinavia and northern Europe. Demoscene folklore recounts that when old-time warez d00dz cracked some piece of software they often added an advertisement in the beginning, usually containing colorful display hacks with greetings to other cracking groups. The demoscene was born among people who decided building these display hacks is more interesting than hacking — or anyway safer. Around 1990 there began to be very serious police pressure on cracking groups, including raids with SWAT teams crashing into bedrooms to confiscate computers. Whether in response to this or for esthetic reasons, crackers of that period began to build self-contained display hacks of considerable elaboration and beauty (within the culture such a hack is called a demo). As more of these demogroups emerged, they started to have compos at copying parties (see copyparty), which later evolved to standalone events (see demoparty). The demoscene has retained some traits from the warez d00dz, including their style of handles and group names and some of their jargon.
Traditionally demos were written in assembly language, with lots of smart tricks, self-modifying code, undocumented op-codes and the like. Some time around 1995, people started coding demos in C, and a couple of years after that, they also started using Java.
Ten years on (in 1998-1999), the demoscene is changing as its original platforms (C64, Amiga, Spectrum, Atari ST, IBM PC under DOS) die out and activity shifts towards Windows, Linux, and the Internet. While deeply underground in the past, demoscene is trying to get into the mainstream as accepted art form, and one symptom of this is the commercialization of bigger demoparties. Older demosceners frown at this, but the majority think it's a good direction. Many demosceners end up working in the computer game industry. Demoscene resource pages are available at http://www.oldskool.org/demos/explained/ and http://www.scene.org/.