Welcome to the fourth and last episode of my mini-series “Trip Back on Memory Lane“. This episode is about the French demo collection CD-ROM series “ACE” and also a bit about the demoscene and what demos are in general.
Part 4 – ACE Demo Collection CD-ROMs
The ACE demo collection CD-ROMs are certainly not the only CD-ROMs with productions of the demoscene that were released over the years, but I will argue that this series covers more of the whole scene than any other release before and after it.
There were occasionally good releases from the demoparties like Assembly, Mekka & Symposium and X, but those were not consistent and only covered one particular party.
|Note: You can find links at the end of this post where you can download the complete ACE CD-ROMs collection, as well as the complete content of many other demoscene related CD-ROM releases, such as the ones that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The ACE collection covers the most important productions released by the scene between 1990 and March 1997.
The collection has four volumes and spans 6 CD-ROMs altogether. ACE 1, which was released in 1994 covers the early beginnings of the PC demoscene, up-to September 1994. The same French demosceners would continue to release another ACE collection every year for the next 3 years. ACE 2 covers all productions between September 1994 and June 1995, ACE 3 (2 CD-ROMS) covers all productions between June 1995 and May 1996 and the last volume, ACE 4 (also 2 CD-ROMS) covers all productions between June 1996 and March 1997.
The CDs were sold at demoparties like “The Party”, which was held between 1991 and 2002, every year between Christmas and New Year. The Party was the place where I bought my ACE CD-ROMS. I was a bit disappointed, when I was at The Party 1998 and learned that there was no Volume 5 of the collection anymore. I never learned the actual reasons why they discontinued it. Did they not sell enough and maybe even lost money with this venture? Did somebody complain?
Sure, demos are in virtually any case free to share and distribute. However, demogroups made it sometimes very clear in their demos itself that they prohibit the commercial exploit of their works by profit hungry shareware CD-ROM distributors who loved this “free content” to sell it at a profit to mainstream consumers.
What the folks behind the ACE collection project did was indeed very similar to what those shareware CD-ROM distributors did, but there were several things that differentiated them from those sleazy distributors.
- The CD-ROM creators were part of the demoscene themselves
- They did not dump the stuff on their CD-ROMs like those commercial distributors, who just collected anything they could their hands on it and then sorted it by vague categories based on how they understood things. The ACE CD-ROMs are well structured and made a serious effort to be as complete as possible. They also covered not just one aspect of the scene, such as Demo productions only, but the complete broad array of productions that came out of the scene, demos, intros, invites, party reports, graphics, music, disk-mags, source codes, tutorials, articles, tools, routines (like mod-players and others).
- They did not target the main stream market and did not (as far as I can tell), sell the CD-ROMs to be published with a computer or video games print-magazine.
- The price of the CD-ROMs was fair, which leads to the assumption that monetary profit was not the main driving force behind the ACE project
The reasons why the series was discontinued is unclear and it is sad that nobody picked up on it to continue its legacy. But things changed a bit since the days when the collections were released. The Internet made it possible to provide easy and free access to most of the content ever produced by the demo scene. There are several archives and repositories out there, where you can download releases or watch video captures of them on your modern PC. Some of the old productions for MS DOS do not run on today’s Windows 32 machines anymore and it becomes more and more difficult to be able to watch them by using the original executables.
Emulators for the PC like DOS BOX and BOCHS or for the Macintosh like BOXER have to be used. But even they are not capable of running all of the productions that are out there. I failed to run a number of demos and intros that I would like to capture as a video in order to make them accessible to anybody who is interested in this.
For this reason the Hornet Team spent a lot of time once to create the Mindcandy I – PC Demos and Mindcandy II – Amiga demos DVDs, where they captured classic demos using the original hardware and then made the movie DVDs available for purchase. Unfortunately they only covered the most popular demos for the PC and Commodore Amiga, but there are many more great productions out there that are kind of lost at the moment, because nobody transferred them yet to a medium that allows broad access to it. Note: The Mindcandy team is currently working on a third Volume, which covers demo productions that were released between 2003 and 2009. This is nice, but those productions can still be executed on Windows 32 PCs today.
I made many demo and intro productions in video format available on my YouTube channel SACReleases and most of those videos are also available for download in AVI or WMV format from my Demoscene related file-share at Mediafire.com.
Demoscene Releated Articles of Mine
To learn more about the demoscene and its productions, motivations and history, check out the articles of mine below. I wrote over the past few years a number of articles that talk about the demoscene in great detail.
- The History of the Demoscene
- Introduction to the World of Demos
- Rupture by Andromeda Software Development and other Cool Demos
- Mindcandy Volume 2: Amiga Demos Finally Here!??
- The Demoscene Came a Long Way
Here are additional resources and download links to content that you might enjoy also.
- Original PCBoard V15.22 Setup (and update) discs in one RAR archive (4.8 MB)
- Original Gravis Ultrasound Tools discs V2.06a in one RAR archive (8 MB)
- Trip Back on Memory Lane video ALL parts in AVI format (140 MB)
- Some Tools Related to PCBoard for the use under IBM OS/2 Warp (2.4 MB)
– DualStore Tape Backup Software for OS/2 (I used that one with my QIC-80 Tape Drive)
– Ray Gwinns SIO Virtual Comm Drivers for OS/2 V1.60 for up-to 16 Ports
– NE1000, NE2000 NDIS Ethernet Network Card Drivers for OS/2
– OS/2 CAPI driver V3.10 (which I used to hook up my 2 TELES ISDN Cards)
– WatchCat process monitor, manager and protector for OS/2 Version ?.??
– Custom made PCB and PCBMoni Icons for OS/2 (I made those)
DOS Tools for the use under OS/2
– Volcov Commander V4.00.038 beta by Vsevolod V. Volkov (lightweight Norton Commander clone)
– DizView file_id.diz viewer for any type of archives (configurable)
– PCBStat door and tools, custom installation routine
- ACE Demo Collection CD-ROMs (via scene.org)
ACE Volume 1
ACE Volume 2
ACE Volume 3 CD 1
ACE Volume 3 CD 2
ACE Volume 4 CD 1
ACE Volume 4 CD 2
- SAC PPE’s at my sites download section (also has links to additional PPE resources)
- List of Demo Compilations for Download at Scene.org
- Links to various Online Archives and Repositories and Scene Related Web Sites
- Scene related Merchandise – Books, Videos, Schwag and CD-ROMS
I hope that you enjoyed my mini-series. Cheers!
Carsten aka Roy/SAC