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A demo is a way for artists, writers and programmers to demonstrate their work, usually in an inexpensive way. The term originated as a shortened form of demonstration, but has taken on a meaning more specific than the origin word.

In Music

A demo is a way for artists to get their musical ideas on tape, and in most cases, provide an example of the ideas to record labels, producers or other artists. Typically, these demos are recorded very inexpensively on cheap boom boxes or 4-track or 8-track machines. These demos are rarely heard by the public, although some artists do eventually release rough demos in rarities compilations or box sets.

Many unsigned bands and artists record demos in order to obtain a record contract. These demos are usually sent to record label's in hopes that the artist will be discovered. Usually, large record labels ignore demos that are sent to them, unless they request them.

Many signed bands and artists record demos of new songs before recording an album. It is also common for songwriters to record demos before submitting their songs to artists to record. These demos (or "Songwriter's Demos") are recorded with minimal instrumentation - usually just an acoustic guitar and the vocalist.

In Computers

(see also Demo Scene)

A demo is a way for demomakers to demonstrate their abilities in: programming (that's the coding part), music (zik), drawing (gfx), and/or 3D modeling. It is a kind of non-interactive multimedia presentation, the difference with a classical animation being that the display of a demo is computed in real time (like people performing a play compared to showing a movie), making computing power considerations the biggest challenge. For now a demo is mostly composed of 3D animations mixed with 2D effects.

The boot block demos of the 1980s, demos that were created to fit within the small (generally 1024 to 4096 bytes) first block of the floppy disk that was to be loaded into RAM, were typically created so that software crackers could boast of their accomplishment prior to the loading of the game. What began as a type of electronic graffiti on cracked software became, however, an art form unto itself, and demo makers continue to push themselves to the limits of their abilities by making these short demos to this day.

There are three main kinds or types of demos :

Restrictions change from one competition to another, depending on the machine on which the programs are run. The demos are now most commonly designed to run on PC, but not that long ago were mostly designed to run on Commodore 64, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga home computers. There are even demos running on such diverse platforms as VIC-20, Amstrad CPC, TO7, BeBox, RISC PC, Macintosh, Gameboy and SONY Playstation.

Notable demo groups include the Future Crew, Renaissance, the Silents, Cascadia, Witan, Triton and many others.