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Collectively referred to as the Scene. It is a subculture of different computer activities where participants actively share ideas and creations.

Historically, the Scene consisted of communities of computer users engaged in particular activities but often loosely grouped.

The loose grouping of Scene activities comes from the era when the Internet was inaccessible to the general public. Bulletin Board Systems were the principal means for savvy computer users to connect online, communicate and exchange data. To encourage more people to use their services, boards often hosted various computer-specific activities and subjects. It led to online communities engaged in some intertwined topics that evolved, were grouped, and became the Scene.

Cracking and Warez

Cracking is the art of modifying software for a particular purpose. It can vary widely from the simple act of creating cheats for video games (trainers) to the removal of sophisticated software copy protection.

The sharing of software with its copy-protection removed gets defined as warez. In the early days of microcomputing, the removal of copy protection by cracking software was not unlawful. However, this has long since changed, and the sharing of commercial software and media for free is illegal.

Hacking h/p/a/v

Hacking should not be confused with software cracking, it is the unorthodox manipulation or exploration of most things computer-related. Online texts and tools for hacking were often combined with those on phreaking, anarchy, and computer virus creation, using the h/p/a/v classification. Today this grouping has fallen out of favor, especially the modern association of anarchy text files and computer viruses that get easily misconstrued for activities against nation-states.


Phreaking is the redundant and illegal art of land-line telephone network exploitation to obtain free calls. It was used in the BBS era to avoid the prohibitively expensive costs of time-consuming long-distance calling to network computers.


Art is the creation of computer-based artwork using digital media and different techniques. The most common forms of this medium are pixel, raytracing, ASCII, and ANSI art.


Participants combine art, music and programming trickery to create a visually appealing, non-interactive computer program demonstration.


Emulation is the creation of software that simulates hardware to run platform-specific software on different machines. For example, a Sony PlayStation emulator for Windows enables technically incompatible PlayStation games to play on a Microsoft Windows computer.


The creation of computer generated music using tracker modules. Its most well-known genres are chiptunes and modules, which have playlists on Spotify.
Further reading on the history
As of 2022, a couple of professionally published books cover the Scene and its influences on modern online culture.

Warez: The Infrastructure and Aesthetics of Piracy and The Modem World: A Prehistory of Social Media.

  • Warez: The Infrastructure and Aesthetics of Piracy

    Eve, Martin Paul (2021) Warez: The Infrastructure and Aesthetics of Piracy. Earth, Milky Way: punctum books. ISBN 978-1-68571-036-1.

    When most people think of digital piracy, the phrases that likely come to mind are “Bittorrent”, “Napster”, and “The Pirate Bay”; the popular manifestations and accessible incarnations of home copyright violation. However, this is a poor reflection of a submerged and elite culture of an underground piracy scene that for several decades has operated on a secretive and hierarchical basis of suppliers, couriers, release groups, and “topsites”. The true “warez scene” as it is known, is undetected by the general public, but well-acquainted with high-level law enforcement. This book offers the first academic study of the gigabytes of digital material surfaced by “The Scene” in the form of ASCII .nfo files and DemoScene executables from the Defacto2 archive, charting the structure, organization, and history of the criminal underground networks that race to release material before their competitors with bleeding-edge technology and connections.
  • A Pirate's Life for Me

    Jimmy Maher, published author of The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga and The Digital Antiquarian, has written two excellent articles on early pirating and the pirate scenes on both the Apple II and Commodore 64 computers.

  • 100 Years of the Computer Art Scene

    Jason Scott and RaD Man

    Jason Scott is the producer of the excellent and well-received BBS Documentary, whereas Rad Man is the founder of the famous art scene group ACiD. In April of 2004, they teamed up at the Cleveland Notacon Conference and gave a 50-minute presentation 100 Years of the Computer Art Scene. The presentation can be downloaded and listened to in MP3 format, plus there is a text transcript available. The site also has excellent examples of early computer artwork, from old mainframe printouts to massive modern ANSI.

  • Flashtros

    A fantastic resource that collects the program source code and art assets of Crack-Intros then recompiles them into a web browser friendly format such as Flash, Java or HTML5.
  • ASCII Art Academy

    A great tutorial and summary on ASCII art scene by the famed Roy of SAC. An artist over the years commissioned by numerous respected groups including Razor 1911, Drink or Die, RISC, TRSi, Deviance, Origin and The Humble Guys. The site also has a large number of links to more detailed web pages that cover the subject of ASCII and ANSI art.
  • artpacks.acid.org - introduction

    Ever since the days of the IBM PC 8088 and C64, personal computers have been used for much more than word processing and data entry. Artists around the world have found computer art to be less expensive and much less restrictive than traditional paint and canvas.
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