Demos: digital art for computers

Reading time: 1-2 minutes

When I was a kid, during the early days of personal computers when my dad custom-built hardware to get the best performance possible, we would test his accomplishments with PC Demos (and eventually video games). Demos were audio-visual presentations that ran in real-time on a computer. They started as a way to show off computer performance, but quickly became an art form, mixing graphics, music and coding mastery into unique compositions. The video above is one of my favorites that remains engrained in my mind for years since I would run it as a real-time computer program over and over again. It's considered one the best of its kind, voted "Top 10 Hacks of All Time" by Slashdot.

Starting out in the late 80's, Demos were featured at Demoscene parties which were held in different parts of the world for hardcore computer enthusiasts who would carry their own large, heavy computer towers and CRT monitors and wait in line in freezing weather for hours just so they can be in a huge dimly-lit room filled with other guys (and maybe some girls) who shared their passion for tech and personal computers.

Demoscene events are still alive and gathering big crowds even today (the biggest event of the year took place just a few weeks ago). And Demos are still being made, in many ways with a higher degree of creativity as technology isn't as much a limitation as it was in the past. And it turns out that dubstep music is a great complement to its cyber-focused visual style!