Why the Demoscene is big in Sweden: Bit för Bit

“But now to the land beyond the future. To the movie (sic) about the computer world. To demo-fantasies and breath-taking computer games. To the world of Orcan!” (Orcon?). Cue posthuman sleazy-gas-station-jarre-cover spotlight smoke world*. Scrolltext @ 1.17: “The world’s first demo competition for all the crackers, hackers, packers, trainers”. Cue Amiga virus warning, data-jibberish by Orcan, and “Dad” saying “Shut up, Orcan“.

This bizarre clip is actually from a weekly TV-show that aired on national Swedish TV in 1989. It was called Bit för Bit (Bit by Bit). I was too young to see it, but I’ve been told by wise men about it. As I understand it (also from here), they showed clips from a number of demos each week, and people called in to vote for their favourite. Zyron told me that Horizon made a demo for it. Rebels won the competition once, according to a youtube-comment. RSI, Phenomena, Alpha Flight, North Star, etc. Elite!

There were also game competitions in each show, where you called into the show and controlled the game with your phone’s number panel. This was the future. But we missed a turn along the way, *old-man-sigh*.

Anyway, this has to be one of the earliest TV-shows with frequent demo-compos, if not the only one ever? Demos had only existed for a few years, but the scene was gaining momentum. There were also copy parties that the show reported from. One Youtube-commenter mentions the report from the AlphaFlight/VisionFactory/Powerslaves party in Holland as a highlight.

Maybe the Scandinavian demoscene was not strong because of the early computerization, social wellfare system, cold weather, or education system. Perhaps it was all about Bit för Bit! Well maybe not, but who wouldn’t want to become a scener after seeing this? It’s almost like an advertisement for a detached digital world without adult rationales (even if you have to shut up sometimes). And maybe the demoscene was actually surrounded by more by illegal things back then (piracy, cracking, VHS-trading, info-freedom, BBS-nazis..). Although Bit för Bit seems to have had pretty stupid parts, there were also lots of elite sceners that gave the show legitimacy. I mean, you can read a scroller @ 2.45 that has “a message for D.O.C.” who was one of the main improvers of Soundtracker. Scroller greets to tracker-reverse-engineerers on national TV, now that’s not bad.

I’m looking for copies of the show, or any kind of information. If you can help out please leave a comment.

* Gas-station-jarre-cover, ehm… Around here you can buy music at gas stations. I think there are even special distributors for that purpose. And back then there were always tons of “Best of Synthesizer Hits” CDs with bad covers of Jarre, Vangelis, and all those kinds of laser-harp future-dudes. They were often more like conversions than covers, because they sounded almost identical to the original. It’s almost a bit demoscene-ish come to think of it…

10 Responses to “Why the Demoscene is big in Sweden: Bit för Bit”

  1. TRUE CHIP TILL DEATH • TCTD Links for 2010-05-14 Says:

    […] Why the Demoscene is big in Sweden: https://chipflip.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/why-the-demoscene-is-big-in-sweden-bit-for-bit/ 12 hrs […]

  2. Maskinop Says:

    Why not start a gas-station chip-group and release comprehensive covers on CD with chip-instruments ?

  3. arlen Says:

    GAS!!!!! http://soundcloud.com/arlen/gasman hehehe

  4. hunz Says:

    Great! great! post man. Couldn’t stop watching the youtube video and I had no idea a show like this even existed. Wonder if something like this could run again ^_^

  5. TRUE CHIP TILL DEATH • Ghost Links from the Outage Says:

    […] Why the Demoscene is big in Sweden: https://chipflip.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/why-the-demoscene-is-big-in-sweden-bit-for-bit/ […]

  6. Sander Says:

    The only other show i remember is Highscore, a german tv program which ran on ZDF (iirc). They once hosted a democompetition where some groups from Atari ST, Amiga and Commodore 64 were supposed to compete eachother. “That’s Design” by Crazy won that competition, being the c64 entry. (see it here: http://noname.c64.org/csdb/release/?id=3399).
    That competition was held only once though.

    As far as i know no such thing ever happened in Holland, the closest thing must be a democompetition by a papermagazine called ‘Commodore Dossier’. (Entries here: http://noname.c64.org/csdb/event/?id=433).

  7. Gerry Says:

    Highscore was broadcasted by WDR. Here’s the link to the demo competition: http://thethalionsource.w4f.eu/Artikel/Highscore_Report.htm

  8. Daniel Rehn ✖ (@daniel_rehn) Says:

    In case anyone is looking here—the entire 1989 run of Bit för Bit is available at the Internet Archive: http://archive.org/details/bit-by-bit-series

  9. goto80 Says:

    It’s almost like they uncracked the Megaboys-crack. :)

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