The demoscene can be an utterly useless experience to have. Who cares about what you can do in 1024 bytes? On the other hand, the scene is like a secret society. Sceners give other sceners work opportunities, and recommend each other for projects. I’ve heard stories from sceners going to a job interview, mentioned their demogroup, and basically got the job. “Yeah nice demos man, you can start monday”.
Some huge companies were born as demoscene groups. DICE came from The Silents. IO Interactive came from Cryonics. The IT-company TAT started as Yodel. And there are individual sceners who have managed to become “famous” on their own. Famous in the sense of getting plenty of recognition within a specific field or in the mainstream.
The purpose of this list is not to make a general “this is what sceners are doing outside of the scene” (check Scener Release list, demosceners on Wikipedia, old-ish list of sceners in the games industry) but to show examples of people who managed to go from the scene and do something out of the ordinary.
The entries on this list have not been scrutinized and researched as much other texts here, such as the Timeline. Please report any errors you might find, and feel free to suggest new additions by commenting or mailing (faxATgoto80DOTcom). And please get in touch if you want your name removed from this list.
Big thanks for the help: Akira, Tempest, Deadguy, Stage7, lug00ber, S. Alexander Reed, Inigo Quilez, Alex Evans, Mistigris, Bryface, Fine Cut Bodies, Kaneel, uucidl, Paniq, Glenn Lunder, Mordi, Hunter Chorey, Saga Musix, Kuba Winnicki, Rez, the Pouet-tweeter, Henri Toivonen, Bent Stamnes, iLKke, Simon Carless, evil paul, David Weinehall, Markku Reunanen, Esko Ahonen, Amplitude Problem, Øistein Eide, Tim Koch, Gargaj, Juan Irming, Toni Kurkimäki, shawnphase, RadiantX, Velo, HP, d0us, Hedning, Saku Lehtinen, Steve Anthony Williams, Fini Alring, Jaro Janto, Niezly Jakub, all the people in the Demoscene FB-group, Jari Jaanto, DeeKay, Kris, Kovacm, Frost, and even more.
Audio & Music
The late 90’s scene spawned quite a few semi-famous IDM-artists. Brothomstates (Dune/Orange sometimes together with Yolk/Parallax) have released IDM on Warp and are part of the TPOLM-universe in the scene. Bogdan Raczynski (Karl) released on Aphex Twin’s Rephlex Records, but started in the tracker scene as Karl. The label Merck released sceners and sceneroids like Lackluster (Distance/TPOLM), Ilkae, Blamstrain, Vim, Machinedrum, Frank and Bill, md (Mellow-D/TPOLM), Xhale, Crankshaft (Yolk/TPOLM), Tim Koch (Serkul/Cydonia).
Adam Skorupa (Scorpik/Pulse, Poland) – a composer and sound designer famous foremost in Poland.
Alexander Odden (Flipside/Nazareth, Norway) is in Pegboard Nerds.
Anders Carlsson (Goto80/HT^UP, Sweden) that’s me doing this list and I’ve made some stuff.
Anders Johansson (Static/Rebels, Sweden) is an editor in the film industry.
Andrew Sega (Necrös/FM, USA) of the synthpop group IRIS. In this video he talks about the scene stuff.
Axel Hedfors (Quazar, Sweden) is Axwell in Swedish House Mafia.
Bas Bron (Strike/Axis) makes music as Bastian, De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, etc.
Bjørn Lynne (Dr. Awesome/Crusaders, Norway) works with music for games and other media.
Chris Coady (Christopher Robin/Trance, USA) is a well-established music producer working with bands like Beach House and !!!.
Christian Morgenstern (Christian Morgenstern/Covert Action Team^Essence, Germany) became a big techno artist in the 1990’s.
Cliff Lothar, a newly hyped electro artist, has a scene background but maybe I’m not supposed to tell…
Daniel Hansson (Matrix/Zone 45, Sweden) co-founded the synthesizer company Elektron.
Den Svenska Björnstammen, a Grammy-award winning Swedish pop group, have two members from the scene: Sombie/Tazadum and Buzzie/Syntax Terror.
Dubmood (Dubmood/Razor1911, Sweden/France) runs the label Data Airlines and works full-time with music.
Frédéric Motte (Moby/Dreamdealers^Sanity, France) works with game music and studio music.
Gustaf Grefberg (Lizardking/Alcatraz, Sweden) made game music for e.g Wolfenstein and Syndicate.
Hans van Vliet (Hunz, Australia) formed the videogame band 7bit hero and works with music.
Jamie Watts aka Kilowatts and Skeetaz (Purple People Eater/Mirage, USA) releases techno, IDM, breakbeat, etc.
Janne Suni (Tempest/Fairlight) became famous when Timbaland sampled Acidjazzed Evening.
Jesper Kyd (Jesper Kyd/The Silents, Denmark) works with soundtracks for games and movies.
Joakim Cosmo (Jucke/Judas, Sweden) is a well-known techno/house DJ in Sweden and Denmark.
Jochen Hippel (Mad Max/The Exceptions, Germany) worked on game music for a while and then ??
Johan Antoni (Nibbel, Sweden) founded the famous Swedish music store Jam and makes music as Urban Electro Squad
Jonne Valtonen (Purple Motion/Future Crew) makes music for games, theaters, orchestras, etc.
Joris de Man (Scavenger, Netherlands) was in the Atari scene and now makes game music.
Jouni Helminen (Dharma, Finland) released drum n’ bass on Moving Shadow in the 00’s sometimes together with fellow scener Prob.
Juan Irming (7an/SYNC, Sweden) makes music as Amplitude Problem.
Juha Kujanpää (Dizzy/CNCD, Finland) is sort of famous in folk music.
Kenneth Graham (KG, USA) is a serial entrepreneur and was a prominent DJ in the Los Angeles area in the 90’s and 00’s.
Krzysztof Wierzynkiewicz (Wierza/Venture, Poland) is a freelance composer, well established in Poland.
Markus Kaarlonen (Captain/Frantic, Finland) made eurodisco for Dance Nation in the 1990’s, smurf hits and then Poets of the Fall. Also works at Futuremark.
Martin Iveson (Nuke/Anarchy aka Spaceman/Lemon) now makes records and game music.
Martyn (911/Movement, Netherlands) is quite big in bass music.
Matt Simmonds (4-mat/Anarchy) “invented chipmods” and has made music for many games.
Mattias Ziessow (Hellhound) plays in one of the more famous Swedish pop-EBM bands, Spark!.
Muffler (Muffler, Finland) is a big name in drum n’ bass.
Oskar Stål (Flamingo/Light, Sweden) is the CTO of Spotify.
Oskari Tammelin (Phantom/Jeskola?, Finland) made the Jeskola Buzz music software.
Patrick Lindsey (Bass/The Silents, Germany) is a techno DJ and producer.
Raphael Gesqua (Audiomonster/Melon Dezign, France) makes music for games, movies, etc.
Ronny Pries (Ronny/Teklords^Farbrausch, Germany) has released techno on labels like Forte and Superstition.
Rune RK (Spaze/GiGA Prod) is a music producer who’s worked with eg Coldplay and Nicki Minaj.
Slusnik Luna (included Strobo/Stellar, Finland) reached the UK top 40 in 2001 with the track Sun.
Thomas J. Bergersen (Lioz/Index) has worked with big mainstream artists with his Two Steps From Hell company.
Toasty (Damo/Reservoir Gods, UK) was doing dubstep very early, and used to be a scene coder.
Tomas Danko (Danko/Fairlight) became famous with Starchild, worked at DICE, and now works with beer.
Ural 13 Diktators (Finland) started as a music group on the Amiga under the same name.
Øistein Eide (Øistein Eide, Norway) deejays and produces as Boom Jinx.
Design & Visuals
Andrzej Dragan (Dreamer/Flying Cows) is a famous portrait photographer.
Balazs Kiss (Ward/Enlightenment, Hungary) used to organize the RAGE parties and now works as with lighting and effects for movies like Hobbit and Avatar.
Frauke Bönsch (Fashion/Farbrausch, Germany) is an award-winning photographer.
Irfan Celik (Ivan/Smash Designs, Germany) does 3D work for major Hollywood movies.
Misko Iho (Pixel/Future Crew) is an award-winning film director and music video producer.
Peter Baustaedter (J.O.E/Scoopex^TRSI) makes visual effects for movies.
Rune Spaans (Sparkler/Megastyle, Norway) did VFX for the low-budget hit movie Troll Hunter.
Szabolcs Menyhei (Inferno/Haujobb) works with 3D graphics for movies like Godzilla and Ant-man.
Thomas Abrahamsson (Bluestar/SYNC, Sweden) founded Elfwood, the largest website for fantasy art.
Thomas Obermaier (Pro/Nuance) makes tools for visual effects, popular in the movie industry.
Thomas Pringle (Dr. Zulu/GiGA Prod) works with illustration and concepts for games and movies like Cloud Atlas and Bioshock 2.
Andreas Varga (Mr. SID/HVSC Crew, Austria/Netherlands) does engine code for Guerilla Games (Killzone etc)
Ari Seppä (Duce/Extend, Finland) works for Rovio on Angry Birds as a GFX artist
Alex Evans (Statix/TPOLM) founded Media Molecule and worked with games like Little Big Planet.
Bugbear was formed by members from Byterapers.
Christophe Balestra (Oxbab/Oxygene) is the co-president at Naughty Dog (Uncharted, The Last of Us)
Daniel Scott (Dan/Anarchy) started at Core in 1991 and has since then worked on many games.
DICE was formed out of The Silents, and many sceners work there today.
Funcom involved many sceners.
Gerhard Seiler (Photon/Lazer, Austria) and Harald Riegler (Energizer/Lazer, Austria) formed Sproing, one of the larger independent game development studios in Europe.
Grand cru (Finland) was formed by sceners like Ilkka Paananen and Markus Pasula.
Housemarque (Finland) was a merger of Bloodhouse (created by Bloodsuckers) and Terramarque (created by CNCD).
IO Interactive was formed out of Cryonics.
Jim Malmros (Jimbo, Sweden) has worked for IO and DICE on games like Hitman and Battlefield.
Lasse Louhento (Kube/CNCD) is Game Lead at Supercell (Clash of Clans)
Magnus Sjöberg (Pantaloon/Fairlight, Sweden) is lead engine developer for Battlefield at Electronic Arts
Matt Svoboda (Smash/Fairlight) worked at Sony for 9 years.
Olof Gustafsson (Blaizer/TBL^The Silents) works with game audio.
Remedy was formed by members from Future Crew (PC), Scoopex (Amiga), Aggression (Atari) among others.
Shin’en Multimedia was formed by Abyss.
Simon Carless (Hollywood or h0l) is an established figure in the video games industry, writing and organizing events.
Starbreeze Studios grew out of the scene group Triton.
Straylight Productions (USA) was a game music group with Basehead, Necrös and Siren.
Sumea, the Finnish game company, grew out of Virtual Dreams.
Tatu Blomberg (Mr. Sex/Byterapers, Finland) worked on some major games. Also other Byterapers in the same company: sivu and t.o.b.
Politics and activism
Kim Dotcom (Kim Schmitz, Bitbug, Germany) who since Megaupload is a famous piracy/activist/entrepreneur. In the 1990’s he was a not very well-liked warez d00d who ran the BBS House of Coolness.
Peter Sunde (Nike/Craze, TRSI, Fairlight, Sweden) co-founded The Pirate Bay and has ever since been a sort of activist.
Tamas Polgar (Tomcat, Hungary) wrote the Freax book series, and is a well-known in Hungary for his radical nationalist/libertarian (?) activism that has led to several arrests.
The Bureau for Piracy (Sweden) that preceded The Pirate Bay involved several people with a connection to the scene, like CyberC.
Tony Krvaric (Strider/Fairlight, Sweden/USA) is a republican politician in USA.
Troed Sångberg (Red Fox/SYNC, Sweden) is one of the top men of the Swedish Pirate Party, and also works for Sony… as a futurist?
Code and Hardware
Adam Dunkels (Trident/Active) pioneered the Internet of Things.
Chris Heilman (Cupid/Hitmen) was an dev evangelist at Mozilla and later moved on to Microsoft.
Futuremark was formed out of the scene groups Future Crew and Mature Furk.
Haxx was formed out of Horizon.
Linus Walleij aka King Fisher/TRIAD is one of the top Linux kernel developers.
Massimino Pascal (Skal/Bomb, France) is a senior software engineer at Google.
Mike Hanney (Zam Diesel/NeXT, Sweden) founded the softsynth company AudioRealism.
Mikko Mononen (Memon/Moppi, Finland) is lead AI programmer at Crytek.
Nicolas Stefani (Miko/Tiny Toons) was rated in the top-100 coders in France.
Tomasz Pytel was one of the main coders of PayPal, and was active in the scene as Tran.
Yodel, a PC/Amiga group, founded TAT that was sold to Blackberry for 150 million dollars.
Jari Jaanto (Jaffa/Static, Finland) co-founded IRC-Galleria, the largest social media in Finland during the 00’s.
Tommi Musturi (Electric/Extend, Finland) makes comic books and art, and has received Finland’s biggest comics prize.
Bengt Sjölén (Redhead/SYNC, Sweden) is an artist and serial entrepreneur and has exhibited his work at MOMA in New York.
Fredrik Kahl (Gollum/Fairlight) is a professor in computer vision, image analysis, etc.
Keijo Heljanko (Cable/Complex) works as an associate professor at Aalto University in the same department as Slayer/Scoopex.
Mårten Björkman (Celebrandil/Phenomena, Sweden) is a professor in computer science, focused on computer vision and robotics.
Markku Reunanen aka Marq/Dekadence^Fit is a lecturer and one of the most active demoscene researchers.
Niklas Beisert (Pascal/Cubic Team, Switzerland) wrote Cubic Player and is an associate professor in mathematical physics.
Perttu Hämäläinen (Farqu/Nikki Corruptions, Finland) is the professor of game design at Aalto university and the founder of the Virtual Air Guitar Company.
Tommi Junttila (Slayer/Scoopex, Finland) is an algorithm researcher and a university lecturer at Aalto University
Daan Veldhuizen (Screes/RBi, Netherlands) has made acclaimed documentaries.
Denis Moschitto (MerlinM/Scoopex^Nuance, Germany) is a somewhat famous actor in Germany.
Jukka O. Kauppinen (Grendel/Byterapers, Finland) is one of the more famous tech journalists in Finland.
Oliver Borgardt (Cosmic/Nuance, Germany) pioneered 3D-printed jewelry.
PRI/Oxyron released some records.
Shogoon was/is a classical guitarist?
Darude used FT2, but was he in the scene?
Maybe David Fincher?
Rumour has it that Ulf in Ace of Base did Amiga music for the scene?
Goodiepal was supposedly involved in the scene?
Black Dog Productions reportedly made some demos.
Firefox/PHA works with mainstream music.
Coldcut and Bomb the Bass (etc).
Saku Lehtinen mentioned: “Hybrid Graphics (later NVidia) and ATI etc.”
Megasnail is a Doctor of Politics, Steve of Zenith is Doctor twice over in both social and clinical psychology,