Demosplash 2012

The schedule includes a number of talks on specific machines or interesting related topics. Many of these (where indicated) are in conjunction with demo screenings on that specific platform.


Amiga Computers

The Commodore Amiga has been a favored platform for demos through much of the demoscene's history. But what properties do Amigas have that make them so well-suited for demos? This talk will explore the hardware and software features that made the Amiga platform innovative (and the demo-coder's dream machine!), provide a brief history of the platform with contrasts to its competitors, and then conclude with a tutorial on how to use the often-impenetrable "Workbench" interface that you'll need to understand if you want to dust off your Amiga. Along the way, of course, various famous demos will be shown on several of the CMU Computer Club's Amigas. AMIIGAAAAAAAH!

The Apple IIGS, the Last of the First Personal Computers

A brief presentation of the Apple IIGS, the last in the Apple II line of computers that spawned the personal computer revolution. This unique device bridged the two eras of easily-hackable micros and the (then) new GUI-based platforms with focus on multimedia (graphic and sound) capabilities. This machine, quickly obsolesced and forgotten, still served as an inspiration to many budding hackers with its ethic, tricks, and even cool demos in its day.

The Apple Lisa, Development of a Custom Soundcard, and cmucc's Assembly Experience

This presentation will show off a restored Apple Lisa, a rare specimen Steve Jobs wished he could have forgotten about. The Lisa is almost the first commercial GUI-based machine and provides a fascinating glimpse of a Macintosh precursor. Get a chance to see and learn about the development of a custom soundcard created by the CMU Computer Club ("cmucc") for the Lisa, which was otherwise just able to emit horrible beeping. Why, you ask? To write a demo of course! For which several club members flew around the world to Helsinki, Finland to show off at Assembly 2012, the world's largest and most famous demoparty. And won first place in the Wild demo category! The presentation will include a brief overview of the demo development process and a Helsinki trip report.

The Wonderful World of Commodore 8-bit

This will introduce the so-famous Commodore 64, the world's most popular computer of the 1980s and of course show off a number of demos for it. Come hear some awesome SID-chip music some of the best composers included in classic demos. Several other 8-bit Commodore machines, preceding and following the C64 will also be shown.

DOS-era PC Sound Cards and Tracker Technology

A brief talk that covers the early history of PC sound technology. From the PC speaker, to the Soundblaster and Gravis Ultrasound, discusses why these technologies were highly sought and how the "mod" and tracking scene inspired modern electronic music. See the software used to make classic demo music, how they were composed, and how you can rip them apart to see what's in them.

Embedded Demos

Watch several embedded demos running on AVR microcontrollers, the level of CPU used to control things like watches and dishwashers. There will be an explanation of some of the code and hardware involved in generating realtime graphics and sound with 1KB or less of ram.

Intro to Basic Demo Effects

Want to write your own demo but don't even know where to begin? Believe it or not, many common effects are not very difficult at all and have become open secrets of sorts. Learn about a few of these and gain a true appreciation for the amazing math abilities of demo coders, many of whom might otherwise be easily mistaken for gamer dropout types. And finally, get pointers to several (some very recently released) repositories of code from famous demos.

Lockpicking Tutorial

Get a brief tutorial on how locks work... and how to exploit their weaknesses. This is a simple introduction intended for beginners, but of course all are welcome to attend. We will cover traditional picking techniques in depth as well as discuss high security style locks and how to bypass them. Some locks and picking tools will be made available for those interested in hands on experience, and a small competition will be held to see who can pick a few locks the fastest.

Retrocomputing Restoration and Preservation

This talk briefly covers the many common issues that arise in attempting to dust off that old Apple or Commodore in your basement. Learn to recognize a few typical failures and how to fix them yourself, what things aren't worth trying to fix, and how to get parts. A number of examples of restoration efforts performed on the CMU Computer Club's retro collection will be shown, including recent efforts enabled by increasingly cheap rapid prototyping such as laser-cutting and 3D printing to replace or graft on compatible parts. The talk concludes with a brief philosophical discussion on ways to best share restoration knowledge and experiences.

Sinclair Computers

This talk sheds some light on the oddly popular Sinclair brand of home computers that was much loved and hated in the UK. The often-hilarious history of Sir Clive Sinclair's company including forays into radios, watches, cheaply built computers, and... bicycles(?!) among others are reviewed in the context of trends in home computing. Enjoy a show and tell of many of the popular models from a local collector's personal collection and see some classic games and demos running. You'll also get to hear about the still-thriving hardware modding and hacking culture surrounding this platform and the many clones created in the Soviet bloc. A modern implementation of one such clone from the Ukraine will be shown (with pointers to schematics and source -- build your own!) along with some demos nobody else gets to see outside of eastern Europe.

Vectrex Game Console

Come learn about the Vectrex, a highly unique video game console marketed for just a few years in the early 1980s. Meant to provide a home version of the Arcade experience, it didn't have a notion of pixels or a screen refresh rate as everyone is used to. Peverse also for its incredibly simplistic yet elegant design, it is rather tricky to program for. And yes, several maniacs have written demos for it, some of which will be screened. One such group of maniacs is none other than the CMU Computer Club ("cmucc") who will speak briefly on the process of developing their demo in just 1KB of RAM, which won first place in the general demo category at PixelJam 2012.

Video Signals Demystified

Composite, component, s-video, RGB, what's it all mean?? What's better than another, and how can they be converted? What are those connectors called? How do you get modern video (let alone good-looking video) out of that classic machine in your basement? Why does stuff for European TVs look weird on US TVs? Get the answers to these and more. You'll get to hear all about how we got nice-looking video output from all these retro machines up on the big screen, as well as a sneak preview of an upcoming device that will let you get HD digital video out of them (with no analog conversion!).