Cracker's Map: Germany (FRG)
Germany is the home of some of the most legendary cracking groups ever and has o rival in terms of action. Whilst not quite as old as the American groups who were getting their C64s in 1982 the first European groups started appearing in 1983.
In West Germany a lot of groups and individuals sprang to life as the new C64 scene flourished and grew. In the early days it was just tagging hi-score or depack screens to show who was cracking what, this later evolved into moving sprites with simple backgrounds and then eventually into complex, well designed intros (that the modern scene call "cracktros").
In fact the German Cracking Service intro with the three sprites from 1983 may well have been one of the first crack intros ever. The debate on who was first continues to this day. In this segment of Cracker’s Map we will look at the early pioneers, the legends, the newcomers, the umbrella groups and all those who left an indelible mark on the German cracking scene.
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Founded by Spitfire in April 1989, Action was born out of the ashes of Spitfire's previous group Xades Society. One of the reasons he chose the name Action was that he did not like waiting until the end of a group's scroller to see the greetings. The most important members apart from Spitfire were Hok, Crisp, Crumbsucker and PST. The group had major first release imports firstly with Fantasy and then followed by their NTSC partners Empire and North East Importers (NEI). Well trained titles came forth like Blood Money, Turrican 2, Rainbow Islands, Hero Quest and Creatures. Others like The Cycles were 100% fixed for the first time.
* Macryf was actually a fake handle. I had a chat with Spitfire on the matter: "I needed to get a new name because the cops were on my back. They had searched my last three houses and by the third I was already doing legal stuff. During this time I got back around 10 disks of illegal stuff by saying to the cops that it was legal source code I needed, due to a lawyer). When I was at the attorney my Father talked to the crown attorney. A few weeks later I got two boxes of about 200 disks back (around 150 were empty) with a letter "couldn't find anything". The real disks were hidden all three times in a neighbour's room which was blocked by their mother's clothes-horse."
* Action had strong BBS support with big names "Channel Zero", "Terminal Obsession" and "Shangrali" flying their Jolly Roger flag.
* The group folded on the 24th of December 1991 with their final first release crack System 4 heralding the group’s death. On New Year's Eve the group released a small note officially announcing their departure.
* The group’s fake label was Spalters. Under this budget group Spitfire was known as Pipifax.
This Flight Will Never Stop
Flash, Dynamic Duo, ECA, etc. developed themselves into major players, Flash with their super cool intros, Dynamic Duo with their cracks... Somehow they were a level above us. That had to be changed. Irata asked The Damned if he would think it was possible to build up some sort of Düsseldorf connection, together with Pater Becker and me. That sounded very promising, especially with Irata, the first idea for a name was ABC - Advanced Breaking Crew. A totally fucked up name, because of the term 'breaking'. Pater Becker said not to step into the footsteps of others and I remember the coincidence of my handle with the Seven Up crew from Essen. No way! Frank had the brilliant idea - Alpha Flight. Just amazing. Everyone knew: it's unbeatable and quite important was the name without letters like "V" or "W" and other "stupid" letters which have been hard to realise with the known resolutions. Irata never became a member, I think he moved on to Flash Cracking Group, but was in some original meaning some kind of founding member."
The group also had 1970 as part of its name due to some of the founding members having their birthday in that year. The group releases hundreds and hundreds of cracks as well as some demos and became one of the biggest and longest running crack groups in Germany. They had a brief cooperation with fellow German group Paramount in 1990 but this soon ended and the crew returned to solo efforts once more.
The group has two main phases of existence, which I will refer to as OLD and NEW. The OLD Alpha Flight flourished from the group's inception until its first death in 1992/1993. The NEW AFL continued the flight from the group's rebirth at the CeBit meeting in the first half of 1993 by old leader Mario and later handed to Marc and Max. Important members of the OLD AFL were guys like Frankie Double Team 2100 (two sceners who later became famous in the Amiga scene). The NEW crew also had important recruitments such as The Ignorance, Arne, Skid Row and Derbyshire Ram.
* Their final crack on C64 in 1998 was ironically called "Direct Death Preview". Their fake label was called Ruhrpottknackers (RPK). Also, the NEW AFL brought back cool boards such as Holiday Inn Cambodia and The Evil Island!
* AFL 1970 released close to 1000 releases on the C64! Making them one of the most productive groups in scene history.
ANTIRAM was one of the first cracking groups beside JEDI in the very early days. Antiram was a group of individuals and their head cracker was Andreas Arens, a guy who also programmed lots of games and tools for the software firm Kingsoft.
The group was responsible for classics like: Archon II, Gorf (Cartridge), Koala Painter (tool), Pengo, Raid Over Moscow, Space Pilot and Trollie Wallie.
One of the pioneers of the early days and a proud instalment in the cracking history of Germany and the scene in general!
* Antiram (Andreas Arens) worked for the German software label Kingsoft. Some of his work includes Frankie crashed on Jupiter (broken by E.C.A in 1985) and Q.U.I.W.I. and Turboplus Tool Cartridge for the C16 & Plus/4 plus some more.
During his freelance work for Kingsoft he was at the University of Aachen, where he also started a C64 emulator project. ALEC64, The ALE C64 Emulator was made for the X Windowing System or Linux Console. He also did a lot of Linux coding, mainly for VGA chipsets and Adaptec SCSI controllers as well as working for Lokigames converting windows based games to the Linux system.
We Are Perfect
Some of their big releases were full price titles such as Gauntlet 3. They traded mainly with Empire but also had smaller dealings with North American import groups Excalibur, Mirage and TSM.
As with all competitive groups back in the day, wars were common-place. Arcade was no exception, it had quarrels particularly with Red Sector Inc (RSI) and even more so with Genesis Project. The war with G*P was quite huge, the usual name calling of members on both sides took place, with examples like: Roydar, Tree, Tyrookie, Whoreceress, Antishit and Cok.
The Sorceress (Mystic Cavern sysop) did not want G*P to have more than one BBS, another one besides her Mystic Cavern existed under the G*P flag called Dream Land. Goblin put the number of the other BBS in one of his cracks, but not the number for Mystic Cavern. The Sorceress got upset and kicked G*P off of Mystic Cavern. The Sorceress and Antichrist made up again a few days later and Mystic Cavern returned to being G*P's HQ. Arcade were not happy with this sequence of events and decided to leave the BBS.
The group had some fine first releases in partnership with Empire and some nice quality cracking too such as The Bod Squad, Arnie, etc.
The group finally slowed down towards the end of 1992 with their final ware making it out in early 1993.
* Awesome intros coded by Bacco. He was a good friend of Manfred Trenz and Markus Siebold and helped code Turrican II - Final Fight (he coded mainly the title screen and hi-score table).
A Push, a Rush and the Land we once stood on is ours again
Apart from being one of the last great crack groups on the C64 they were also one of the most active during their time. They quickly pushed out around 400 releases between their inception in 1993 through to their demise in 1996. During this time there was two major announcements called "Judgement Day". In the first Judgement Day, Pudwerx rejoined the scene and put online his famous BBS "The Forum" (which was invite only). The second Judgement Day announcement was Prodigy and his return with his BBS "Terminal Obsession". These two announcements were done in a stylish way; I remember a lot of people were in awe back in the dying BBS scene when it was announced.
The group had some very solid releases, such as Mayhem in Monsterland, Suburban Commando and Lions of the Universe. They had unofficial cooperation with F4CG, Excess and Talent.
Their final crack was "Ice-Mania" released in June 1996 by legendary member Derbyshire Ram. After this the group broke up and moved on to join F4CG (Cupid, Deff, Intruder, Jack Alien and Renegade).
* Apparently Mr. Lee of 711-fame was said to be coming back to the C64 scene and to join AVT as founding member, but this never happened.
* Magic Man had coded an Avantgarde intro almost 1 year before the group was built. Also, Peter (main editor of Mamba) and Jack Daniels (main editor of Corruption) were planning a new disk mag called Corramba.
* The group had several wars, mainly with rivals Legend and Onslaught (Avantgarde were the founding group of federations against both rivals also).
* Cresh/Taboo joined the group under the fake handle of Trimone.
Europe's Number 1
They had around 350 releases of mixed quality. Something that did stand out was some of their PAL fix imports coming from the states through A Touch of Class (ATC). This included titles such as Battletech, Hillsfar and Test Drive II. Apart from ATC they also unofficially imported Eagle Soft wares and even some European wares (distributed locally).
The group died in mid-1989 after being tarnished by one of the scenes biggest lamers ever - Moskwa TV (huge recracker and ripper) who claimed to be a member but was never allowed in, so instead he pretended with heaps of fake releases). Despite this the group will largely be remembered as the number one group from Germany with great members like Axiom, Captain Future, Mr. Fiend, The Parade International (TPI) and of course The Syndicate. Members later went on to join groups like Dynamix and Lotus.
* "The Syndicate" used to be the name of a group with three members. None of these used separate handles in the beginning. "The Syndicate" released one of the first file-sequence-linkers called "MFL" in 1989. Later to be renamed and released as "IFFL".
This article cannot exclude this group despite recent findings that are controversial to say the least. The group did a lot of early cracks and for some time claimed the glory of having the first real crack intro which was the famous screen on the previous page. Some people claimed that they first saw BCS and this intro in 1982 however it was in fact used much later. This was concluded when the picture was discovered to be in Paint Magic format which did not appear until 1983 (released by JEDI). It is true that BCS have been around in the very early days - no question - but they are not as magical as some would think, not only due to the intro-farcical, but also due to the recracks that took place. It is unconfirmed but it appears a hoax took place as "the intro" was only used on recracks. Some examples:
Pitfall II -> recrack of the OTD/Jedi Version (check $0812 - JEDI's depack routine), River Raid -> recrack of the Antiprotect version (just changed the sysline), Poster Paster -> recrack of the NOVA/Crackman Crew version (just changed the sysline and the in-game text) and The Heist -> recrack of the JEDI release (check depacker code at $0812 with OTD's version of H.E.R.O)
Recracking was quite common in those early days, particularly by "local" groups. I mention all of this information so that the truth of the matter is open for all to see and so that people can make their own conclusion. Most people remember seeing the intro and having some feeling of an ancient or legendary group, particularly with all the hype and talk about it over the years. It appears now that the status of "oldest intro" or "first intro" has gone completely and that the group status, as something great has turned out to be average at best due to all their recracks. Were the recracks fake from someone else? It appears that intro is used only on the recracks? Anything is possible, we need to chat to those involved and get their side of the story.
Bla Bla Bla - here we are...
Founded in September 1990, the group had members from different groups. The members were more famous than the releases - the scene struggled to work out who was who. What I do know is that these guys were involved: Arrogance (Froebel), Authentic Arts, B-Wyze, The Excellenz, Magic Man, Pyle and Rap. The rebuilt group had members like Aslive (The Barterer), Infinity, Jack Alien and X-Raffi. The group had import partnerships with NEI and Mirage. The Bomz also imported cracks from NEC to Europe.
There was also some fake rebuild of the group (after the first rebuild) that is not worthy to discuss in detail here.
The group used their anonymous identity to do 100% versions of failed cracks by other groups; this lead to a small war with the fellow German group Paramount. Exciting times; the whole concept was to hide from the police, as a lot of guys had legal stuff running besides their scene activities and some had already been caught once or twice.
* The first rebuild of the group also released a disk magazine called The Addy Corner which was coded by Jack Alien.
One of the early groups that now has a legendary status due to the quality work they did in a very early time in the scene. Without groups like CRM around, the scene would have been a very different entity for sure.
It's No Mystery, We Make History!
After the Ikari & Zargon Party in March 1989 the Bones left again to go their own way and Axion 1999 was kicked out. In May 1989 Future Concepts (Swiss) and The Bulldogs (Germany; mainly former Array) joined as a new sub-group. After the Crazy + Stardom Party 1989, Syndrom 2001 joined Future Concepts; Swiss Precise joined Crazy as a subgroup. Mainly through The Bulldogs, the quality of the cracks was raised significantly, some great demos were released and the famous diskmag Mamba was created. Future Concepts and Swiss Precise left Crazy again in late 1989 when the sub-groups dissolved.
Crazy had some cooperation worthy to mention also. Firstly there was the co-op with Lotus from December 1989 to July 1990. The co-op with Lotus was interrupted for a short time in February. Crazy then immediately started another co-op with Genesis Project but that lasted only for three weeks, because it was mainly arranged by the Swiss Sections (The Goblin, FGTH, Martin (previously Cpt.Trubble) & Stingray)) and the German's were not to enthusiastic on the co-op (Mamba versus Sex'n'Crime issues). After this failure Martin quit the C64 and bought an Amiga, Stingray and Cyberpunk joined Genesis Project. Right after the termination of the co-op with Genesis Project, Crazy restarted the co-op with Lotus again.
The successful C+L co-op ended when Axiom and Yeti stopped again and all remaining active Lotus members joined Crazy. The last co-op release was Sunny Shine - On the Funny Side of Life.
In March 1991 Crazy died, Welltris was their last release and Magic Man & Felix their last active members. The German section joined forces with the remains of Illusion and Paramount to build up the new promising group called Enigma. After Crazy's death, the Mamba magazine was released under the I+T label and later for Enigma.
These guys were one of the most famous if not THE most famous German cracking group ever! After such a statement, I guess you want some information behind their classic intros, well here we go...
The Dynamic Duo was a group made up of two friends from Holzwickede near Dortmund, Germany. The two guys were Hans-Juergen Grahl (The Executor) & Robin Wuenderlich (The Dark Angle).
The group was formed in 1985, and was one of the best and most active groups in 1986 with lots of releases like Ghosts 'n Goblins, Green Beret, Super Cycle, Paper Boy and 10th Frame. The two friends originally had no contacts and all their spreading was handled by Headbanger (Georg Panagiatidis) from Dinslaken, Germany and his two copy-slaves Krabat and Syntax 2001.
The group finally disbanded in 1988 and The Dark Angle (RW) moved on to crack on the Amiga under Quartex. The duo also wrote the game "Thunderboy" for Rainbow Arts on the Amiga. Sometime after this The Executor founded the software import and reseller firm "Dynatex" (DYNAmic Duo/quarTEX - http://www.dynatex.de), which he eventually sold to another company in February 2000. Sadly The Executor (HJG) had a car accident later in the year, leaving him in a coma that he may never awaken from. :-(
The duo had many quality releases with hardly any bugs or problems, which was quite special in that early period of cracking history.
* HJG invited everyone from The Light Circle (mentioned later in this article) to his big birthday party. MWS/Radwar: "we celebrated at his house for 2 days. HJG, RADWAR, FCG, CRM, NSC and some others I can't remember. RW of DD cracked the game W.A.R. while we were boozing and Headbanger came later also to Executor's house to exchange some new software. So the birthday party changed into a small and cosy copy-party".
Quality from Germany
In November 1989, some members left in order to build Success, but the important members came back in December 1989 and Dynamix continued its work. The group has been declared for dead in June 1991 and most of the members built Victims together with members from Extasy and Censor Design.
Dynamix had Rage For Order (RFO) and Mirage (MIR) being their main-partner in the states, but also Demonix and North East Importers (NEI) did get a few games from them. The American WHQ was Beyond with The Anarchist being the sysop. The European board was called Westside, which used to be the old Paninaro-board.
* Had a war with Paramount! (to do with ragging on Brainbombs)
* Had a war with Oneway!
* Roy, also known as Radar, used handles Lagerfeld and The Model to make people go crazy a bit. :D
* Lotus and Dynamix in cooperation for a few days only.
* Released the famous COOCOC magazine (developed originally by SHAPE)
* Had a SNES division!
* Dynamix started a coop with Abstract in Feb 1990. The First release of the Co-op was Great Courts.
Power from the Eastside
Mainly through the efforts of Dodger and Little Big Man (LBM) the group released some high quality trained games, including many first releases. This quality attracted the attention of fellow German based crew Remember, who recruited some of the Dytec crew as double-members in 1997 to release "jewel" quality versions of old games under the Remember label. Some examples of their work can be seen in Do Or Die+26D, Ice Guys+10, Lemmings +11 and Stroke World +8P to name only a few,
The only real issues they had with any other group was a small debacle with Alpha Flight, who they accused of recracking the game Lemmings (and they provided a fair bit of evidence too).
In their later years they were unofficially involved with the magazine The Crest, a very popular publication in its day. They have not officially left the scene yet and their last release to date was Micro Fighter back in 2000.
Main members were Dodger, The Fatman, Hardsequencer and Little Big Man.
Cracked & Compacted in 1998
* Most know them for the ECA packer/linker/level cruncher with the whom whoom sound in it from the game "Radius".
One of the reasons for the secrecy was that some of the members had been busted by the German police previously and wanted to continue operating within the cracking circles of the C64 underground. They started to use the old Strike Force & The Movers Intro and exchanged the logos with "Germany's Elite".
After nice cracks like Project Firestart and Hard'n'Heavy as well as first releases like Frexel, Down at the Trolls and Starball the group folded as some members moved on whilst some rejoined into other groups.
Elite was rebuilt in October 1991 by Conan, Sting (ex-Paramount), Rick (ex-Enigma), Maniac (ex-Paramount). Citadel of Illusion became Elite HQ in the States, shared with the importing group Glory. Their comeback release was Exile (imported by NEI). The reborn group soon faded away, particularly when Sting and Maniac left to join Genesis Project in 1992.
* Mario van Zeist and Peter Parker were rumoured to be involved in Elite! Also, the proudest moment in Conan's C64 scene career: "As the people came on up to me, to ask me forming ELITE together with them… I never thought I would work together with such talented people like them... Nevertheless I was really happy at that moment!"
Cult of Coolness
Known mainly for their first releases, they were trading with NTSC partners Empire and for a brief time Armageddon, who helped get their wares fixed and on the majority of the elite boards.
The group almost died when Weasel and others left but around the same time X-Ray died in order to join into Enigma, (Chrysagon, The Ignorance, Trigger, Jatagan, The Elegance and Penthagon) which allowed the group to continue with Chrysagon at the helm.
Also known to have released seven issues of the famous Mamba magazine.
The group died when the last active members Chrysagon and The Ignorance left in May 1993 for the UK group Talent.
* Their fake label is Aldi Industries. They also had "Skeletor" as a member (The Ignorance).
Known members included Fantasy, Mr. Cursor, T'Kay and The Speedcracker (the latter being two guys Michael and Greg). The group died in early 1988 after releasing a whole bunch of classic titles such as 1942, Light Force, Paradroid, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Tau Ceti to name but a few.
Also in 1985, FCG programmed the first "Bordersprites-Demo", which was presented at the Commodore-Fair in Frankfurt. During these early days a new trend emerged, the first freezer program "ISEPIC". Some guys from FCG took those "isepiced" games, removed the Isepic-Header and published it as a FCG-crack (and as you would expect the quality was rather poor).
Eventually, due to wanting to have a better name for themselves, the group stopped FCG with members creating Radwar and some others reviving FAC (Federation Against Copyright).
The group had some big names like The Mercenary Cracker (Charles Deenen), Crackman, Irata, MWS, Pater Becker and more!
* Flash the scener later helped create the group Radwar. He decided on that group's name which is the abbreviation for RADiological WARfare and co-founded the group with guys like MWS, BKA, AVH and Duke.
Europe's No. 1
G*P has had some great members over the years. Bizzmo, Deek, Raistlin, S.E.S, Snacky, The Goblin and Tyger were only some of the guys involved in first releasing cracks on the boards (NTSC partnered with the likes of Exodus and ATC) and releasing memorable demos like Spritemania.
The group were also known for having many wars, mainly through Antichrist (also under his OMG/Amok pseudonym). One of their most famous wars was with Fairlight when G*P released one of the Fairlight produced games called Rubicon.
Other interesting facts about the group were that Sorceress was the sysop of their BBS called Mystic Cavern. She built a special relationship with Antichrist (to the point where members could not call their leader due to the phone-line being so busy) and eventually they got together and were married in 1993!
After around 600 releases, the group dissolved in February 1995 with most of the active members like Newscopy, Walker, Scope and Motley all leaving for F4CG. The group was never officially declared dead and in 2009 were re-activated through some new membership and the organising of the Datastorm 2010 party in Sweden.
* Graphician Scope was found dead in a subway in March 1995. Foulplay is suspected as there was signs of a beating (REST IN PEACE MATHIAS).
* Raistlin was one of the programmers who developed Test Drive 4 and 5 for the Playstation.
* They had several groups within their own. Bad Taste is their fake label, whilst Amok was their game development team.
* The group had cracking cooperation with Fire-Eagle and Crazy (the latter lasting only three weeks, before ending in February 1990).
* Also, forgot to mention the large war between G*P and CRAZY, mainly fought through the magazines Propaganda and Mamba. Remember the anti-Mamba intro by S.E.S?
* Boozer/G*P was a neo-Nazi skinhead and went to jail after he torched an immigrant shelter.
* After his parents' house was raided twice by the KRIPO (the German version of the FBI), TNT pretended to have left all illegal activities behind, but secretly continued on as Antichrist/G*P, while officially being involved in legal activities only under the handle OMG/Amok. When rumours spread that OMG and Antichrist were one and the same person, he went through great lengths to keep the truth hidden, for fear of getting busted by the police again. He asked one of his school friends to come to Venlo meetings with him and pretend to be Antichrist, so that OMG and Antichrist could be seen in the same place at the same time. He also created a completely different hand writing style to fool anyone who received disks from OMG and Antichrist. It worked. The Arrogance told OMG on the phone once that he had proof that OMG and Antichrist were 2 different people: He swapped with both of them, and their hand writing was different.
* The first issue of Propaganda was published under the file name Mamba, to fool people into downloading it and to maximize the surprise factor of Propaganda's anti-Mamba intro.
* Remember MWS's discussion with pirate hunter Gravenreuth on the German TV show Highscore? The show's producers also asked Antichrist/OMG if he would like to debate a skinhead on Highscore, after he had published an anti-skinhead article in Sex'n'Crime. Antichrist/OMG declined.
* Snacky's English wasn't the best back then, so he often asked Antichrist/OMG to write the scroll texts for him.
* When Snacky invented IFFL, he didn't know what to call it, so he asked Antichrist/OMG to come up with a name. Antichrist/OMG didn't understand the fundamentals of Snacky's new technique, so he thought up a term so vague, it could mean anything: Interactive Flexible File Linking or IFFL.
* Many cracking groups artificially inflated the number of trainers they added to a game. Snacky refused to double count his trainers. So a G*P crack with unlimited lives, unlimited ammo and a level skip would be a +3, while some other group might count unlimited lives, unlimited bullets, unlimited grenades, unlimited bombs as a +4. G*P's +3 would be better than some other group's +4, because G*P's +3 had a level skip, and the other group's inferior +4 did not. To avoid having to argue with people why G*P's +3 was better than someone else's +4, Antichrist/OMG coined the term JEWEL to designate the ultimate, supreme version of a game. The idea behind it was that people should know that when searching for the best crack of a game, they won't find a better version than a JEWEL.
* Antichrist/OMG received a lot of requests from people to join G*P, but he turned most of them down because he was afraid that if there were too many members, communication would break down, and the group would splinter into localized sub-groups. Antichrist/OMG's most regrettable error came when he turned down an unknown British group called Twilight Zone who wanted to join G*P. After Antichrist/OMG rejected them, they joined the Dominators, and Twilight Zone's NME released many first releases for Dominators that could have been G*P first releases.
* After Antichrist/OMG quit the scene, Newscopy took over as the editor of Propaganda. To add authenticity and a sense of continuity to Propaganda under new leadership, Newscopy wrote several articles under the name Antichrist, to create the illusion that Antichrist was still involved in the making of Propaganda.
* After Antichrist/OMG moved to America, he became a cartoonist and published several books. You can find some of his cartoons on his website: http://www.gaspirtz.com
* During his C64 days, Deek/G*P worked in his parents' graphic design company. In his spare time he liked to play the guitar. Later he became a musician in a Scottish blues band called Boogaloo Investigators.
* Goblin/G*P became a big party organizer and promoter in Paris. He was involved in some very large open air music festivals (similar to Woodstock) all over Europe.
* The Punisher/G*P became a successful DJ. After he quit the C64 scene he published a CD with his music, called Genesis Project.
* History and interviews with members in Recollection Issue #1!
Sometime in 1985 some of the members were busted by the police for piracy which meant the end for the group. All was not lost for their computer exploits, as the members of the disbanded group grew legal computer interests to replace their earlier cracking-hobby. For example, GCS member Snoopy worked for Kingsoft together with 1103/JEDI on the Atari ST. Also, some of the guys in GCS later worked for Rainbow Arts.
Together with Antiram, JEDI 2001 and others, the German Cracking Service is one of the founding fathers of the C64 cracking scene and it was the first ever "cracking service".
The group's name, symbol and slogans were taken from the band The Sisters Of Mercy (name from their song "Home of the Hit-Men").
After a short time Jihad and Curlin joined Hitmen under their real handles and the group moved on further, away from the shadow of Action.
Hitmen started mainly as a German cracking group with Jihad working alone until the entire German section of Vision joined in December 1990. Hitmen later turned into a demo group also with activity on multiple platforms such as the Playstation.
Hitmen has disbanded twice, the first time it dissolved in 1991 and got rebuilt in 1992, just to dissolve again in the beginning of 1993 and get rebuilt once more in December 1995 after a meeting in a pub. Unlike in other similar cases in the Scene, all "reincarnations" were "official" and initiated by the original members, namely Jihad and Curlin.
The group is sleeping mostly but still presents merciful releases now and then!
* Their fake label was called: Shitmen.
* The first three issues of the disk magazine ViNews were released by Hitmen. It was also released separately by Vision. Missing from the public archives are Vinews: 1 & 2 (by Vision) and Vinews: 1 (by Hitmen) - do you have them?
* Jihad programmed the first Blue Box on the C64 and was very busy in 1991/92 searching for new frequences due the fact that the German Telecom started to change them from week to week.
* Blood Money+3/Hitmen cracked by The Barrel (aka Jihad) seems to be the first ever Hitmen release.
* The award for most handles goes to Curlin. 12 different handles with membership in multiple groups simultaneously!
* The mysterious Skeletor cracked for them also!
Founded in 1989 by Termo, Benson & Psychobilly, Hysteric was a cracker group with members mainly from Hannover. They never had any real famous sceners in their group besides Mr. President, who was in Red Sector Incorporated in the late 80s.
They had some quite a few first releases between 1991 and 1992 and also had some nice quality releases such as Rolling Ronny+13H by Mr. President.
In August 1992 Hysteric died. Their most competent members rebuilt Red Sector Incorporated with Tristar & Red Sector Incorporated members from Amiga/PC and other elite sceners.
* Their fake label was Ultimate. For a while they were in cooperation with Insiders. Some disliked the crew due to them uploading Golden Disk/Game On/Magic Disk "first releases" with original track/sector loaders.
J - Joppich, Oliver (1103)
E - Eikemeier, Oliver (Oleander)
D - Dietz, Oliver-Thomas (OTD)
I - Inc.
JEDI 2001 was probably the first group of crackers in the scene and is one of the real famous early groups from Germany.
Regarding the name, OTD says: "My synonym was OTD and I was in a group called JEDI 2001 formed out of Oliver Joppich (J, also known as 1103 (his birthday)), Oliver Eikemeier (E, also known as Oleander, one was in his "Kinderzimmer") and Oliver Dietz (DI). 2001 seems to be some data from far into the future... We were thinking of a name that more represented our identical names O3 or Ozone, but the force was with us, and it still is. I have no contact with the others".
JEDI was well known for:
- First group to conduct a PAL fix ever - Summer Games, Epyx then went on to sell the PAL fixed version by JEDI all over Europe.
- Paint Magic courtesy of Oleander.
- Protecting FCOPY III for Thomas Tempelmann.
The short story of about FCOPY III:
CPL from the Crackman Crew worked at the German RUN magazine and he heard about the masterpiece protection by JEDI and told Alf Maier (Crackman himself) about it. So Alf spoke to JEDI and told them that he would like to try the protection and he would not spread it after the crack. The JEDI guys laughed and said: "If you manage to crack it, then spread it..." and so they gave a master copy to the Crackman Crew...
The protection scheme used was quite heavy - JEDI used a modified basic compiler to run basic routines to transfer data into floppy, execute it and send the whole FCOPY main program through the parallel cable into the FloppyRAM, decode it there, transfer it back and then do a lot of check sums. Alf cracked the heavily protected FCOPY within a week. After he tried nearly everything to understand the compiled code, useless... but then he used a simple trick. He made modifications to his computers Kernal and Basic ROM and also to the Floppy Kernal and that was without hardware modifications the only backdoor to trace and change the code. Then FCOPY III was spread with a CRM intro with the Axel-F sound done by Darius Zendeh (one of the guys behind Professional Dos and also the Nordic Power Cartridge).
This all happened around 2 weeks before the final shipping of FCOPY III.
The FCOPY III Crew was really pissed, especially when they read the main screen of FCOPY III which read: "BEWARE JEDI, you should better crack programs instead of trying to protect them."
Some background on the members:
Oliver Joppich (1103), started coding on the C64 in early 1983 with some copy programs like 'OJO Soft Backup'. Nowadays he's the founder of the company that has developed web-browser for the Mac called iCab - http://www.icab.de
Oliver Eikemeier (Oleander), was a student at the University of Frankfurt where he studied mathematics. He still lives in Frankfurt, check his webpage -http://www.eikemeier.com
Oliver Thomas Dietz (OTD) did a lot of coding and hardware development for the C64. His first programs were simply named Dubber, Packer and Linker. He developed several programs and hardware for German computer magazines such as a software floppy-speeder called C64 DOS which became the "Listing of the Month" in the C64er magazine, a floppy-speeder with hardware called Prologic DOS and a game called Scanner released by Markt & Technik. Oliver lives in Dreieich and is still working with computers as a freelancer, currently he works in Storage Area Networks at T-Systems.Trivia:
* It was always a treat to see JEDI's renaming skill within their cracks, changing bytes to match their own image. some good examples were:
M.U.L.E. - Ozark SOftscape was changed to JEDISCAPE.
Matchboxes - WILD CARD was changed to JEDI CARD.
Shamus - The Shadow was "MR. O" (which of course was for Oleander).
Shamus II - Messages were changed in the chests "It's Ole's softchest!"they even put advertisements for their other cracks inside.
The Right Way To Go!
* They have had cooperation releases with Alpha Flight, Excess, Fantastic 4 Cracking Group and Onslaught, all of these were not official cooperations, just a release shared now and then.
When this group arrived on the scene in October 1989 they received a lot of attention as there were a few old elites that had joined forces. People such as Axiom of Beastie Boys, Yeti of Yeti Factories and some former members from Seven Eleven.
Lotus was in cooperation with Crazy from December 1989 to August 1990. They traded with various groups importing their wares to North America, such as ATC, Mirage, The last coop release was Sunny Shine - On the Funny Side of Life! Soon after the cooperation had split after releasing some 80 odd cracks, the remaining active members joined Crazy.
Not really much to say about MCG but they are certainly important enough to mention here, particular as it was the first real group where the trio Sting, Maniac and Joe Cool did some nice stuff together.
Founded by Tommy in 1986 (who later renamed to Sting) the group had over 100 releases. All of this came to a stop when both Tom and Tommy got busted by the police in January 1989 for piracy. The remaining members renamed the group and continued under the label Paramount.
Quality from Germany
They used to have an importing partnership with Random followed later by Mirage. Paramount have also had a cracking co-op with fellow German group Alpha Flight in 1990. On the magazine front the group had their own Paranews which focused mainly on the group itself. In September 1990 Twist joined from Conflict and released issue #16 of the ancient disk mag Coococ under the Paramount label. However, due to conflicts with the original editor (Roy), Twist was not allowed to continue the mag. They also released Corruption #8 under the Paramount brand but in 1991 Jack Daniels and 3DK (the main editors) left the crew for Genesis Project, taking the magazine with them. After around 300 releases the group died in March 1991 when Sting, Maniac and Joe Cool left for Ikari & Talent. Some of the remaining members like Tyger, Brego, Godzilla and Crockett left the sinking ship for TRSI.
* Fake rebuild of the group in 1993 which lasted some weeks only. The rebuild died because of a fake copy party by Hunter, people travelled far to find nothing, no humour there!
* Plutonium Crackers hosted a copy-party way back in the summer of 1984 in Berlin. Some of the visitors were acting solo but later became members of members of groups like Flash Cracking Group, Trianon, Fantasy Cracking Service, The Fall Guys, Alpha Flight, 1811, The Dire Breaks, Knacki, Happy Crackers, The Last Generation and more. All in all there were around 30-40 people at the event with ages ranging between 12 and 16.
Pleasure Is Our Business
* MWS moved to Munich to work for the computer magazine "RUN". There he got some originals really quick. But he had no time to crack them, so he sent them to Flash. MWS and Crisp invented "Betaskip" mastering/loader protection system which was used commercially by Ubi Soft in a 1991 compilation called "MultiOps" containing Aspar GP, Rick Dangerous and Pick'n Pile. Also, their very first ever crack was Neverending Story.
Founded by Antiplex (later known as Peacemaker) in June 1991 it was created when Hitmen died. Original members were Lloyd, Luke, Inxs, Antiplex, Squealer, Icon, Mayday, Sirmix and Viper. Despite the group being a new entity in 1991 to the old C64 world it was one of the major demo groups on the Amiga and also existed on the PC.
The group was well known for decent cracks, their magazines News Press and Art Press as well as some demos from time to time. They had some decent members including myself (!) but they also had controversial members such as E3 (aka Tridos, Trisect, Warlock and many more). The group died in June 1995 with most members moving to Atlantis.
Not to be confused with the short-lived Swedish group with the same name!
No Risk - No Fun - Red Sector Nr 1
* RSI's fake label was called Ultimate. The group was a member of the legendary The Light Circle umbrella group.
Once Upon A Time
Their website Immortal Antiques provides you with their releases and history at http://www.remember64.de
Sadly, the group disbanded in 2011 with Jack Alien apparently selling all his C64 stuff. :(
One of the early German groups that started the craze that was to become the "scene". Founded in 1983 with members like The Boss, JKL and F-16 the group was quite big between 1984 and 1985 with quite a few releases. Some of the guys around back then called them "CRACKERS with the magic button" due to originals that were reset, saved memory from $0800-$D000 to a 202 Block file and searched for the jump-point, then they changed some text and voila, a new release! Despite these early struggles as the scene defined what a real crack was, they did some early masterpieces such as the work from Frank Thomas aka F-16, titles like Summer Games II and The Eidolon.
The group folded in 1986 and will be remembered for also putting classic titles into circulation like Airwolf, GI Joe and Archon II.
Feel The Madness
It's cool, it's great, it's Shining 8
Founded on the ashes of GCC 1911 (German Cracking Company) by Conan, Drago and Pershy in September 1987. The Strike Force was mainly based around the Bochum area in Western Germany.
The group released a couple of cracks and a whole bunch of demos explaining how they enjoyed their freedom after escaping the overgrown membership of GCC.
In early 1988 one of the best cooperation’s ever was born and that was with The Movers. General Zoff and Conan were good friends and it was in fact Zoff who had taught Conan everything he knew so far about cracking. Both guys did not want to join the other group so the best solution was a cooperation. The joining of the two crews yielded many releases, particularly on the cracking front with titles like Rocket Ranger with ESI, The Games: Summer Edition (PAL fix by General Zoff), Hawkeye 100% and a lot more with their NTSC friends in Mayhem.
A dark day in the scene was when the cooperation got busted on December 7th of 1988 with 8 members being raided by the police. It is suspected that Spitfire/Action was responsible for showing the addresses of the SF+TM members when he was busted earlier (source: Jeff Smart and Conan from Illegal #38). After this bust both Strike Force and The Movers died with members going legal, moving to Amiga or joining other groups.
Conan: "We are sad that we have to stop but we don't want to get in big trouble with those guys who are famous wearing guns. So remember us as one of the 20 best groups ever!! I bet you know which groups we are talking about!! When not then make your own choice but ever remember:
THE STRIKE FORCE MOVERS COOPERATION
Signing off: Raggie, Conan, Drago, Caos, Fairsex and General Zoff!
* The Hitman and Iran Mike are brothers.
* What did happen in front of Conan's house that involved Pershy and Creator? (the result was that both members left SF).
Hence The Name!
Success had a co-op with X-Ray in early 1990, it split up in June when Success died for the first time and members were scattered to other groups (f.e. The Arrogance and Pyle joined Legend and Rap joined X-Ray). Success was rebuilt by The Arrogance in September 1991. Members at that time were: The Arrogance, God/Victims, B-Wyze/Victims, Raze/X-Ray, Major-X/X-Ray (later Hi-Lite), Tyree, Nightshade/Verdict, Falcon/Verdict and Sphere/Ex-Success (ex-Copkilla).
The group released hundreds of cracks, some demos even some magazines like Lethal News and Vandalism News. The Dutch section of the group had a good friendship with fellow Dutchies The Ruling Company and after a while they formed a cooperation that was to become one of the longest living group co-ops ever. Forged in early 1994 and still alive and well in 2010!
Success & TRC are the main organisers of the famous X party series, another one will take place this year! More to come I hope! They are also running the longest serving C64 scene FTP called The Digital Dungeon (the name based on their old BBS in Dallas, Texas called The Dungeon) - it is located at ftp://ftp.scs-trc.net/pub/c64
Together with Dave/Legend, they were one of the first groups to bring the scene BBS concept to the web with their Spankerz Heaven Web BBS. The site is maintained by Burglar and can be located at https://sh.scs-trc.net and their main webpage is also at http://www.scs-trc.net
* Success started a PC division in 1993 which consisted of former Silicon Ltd. & TRC members. After a few cracks the group went legal and focused on the demo scene.
* T.J. and Thorsten joined under the name "The Arrogance" in late 1989. Thorsten quit the scene in mid-1990 and T.J. continued using The Arrogance handle.
* The Arrogance was kicked out of Success (!) for a few days only after a huge argument with Macro Nit/Dominators at the Dominators/Upfront/Trilogy-party 1989 party. He rejoined and all was forgotten (he had thought Macro Nit had stolen his level packer).
* Will the famous Raw Guys demo by Rap ever get finished? There is some 15 parts floating around. Sweet code by Rap, music by Steel and beautiful pixels by Zoomo - come on guys!!! :D
Founded by -duke on the 1st of November 1986, The Light Circle was one of the biggest umbrella groups to ever exist on the C64.
The all-time memberstatus of The Light Circle:
All members of Radwar, Cracking Force Berlin/FCG, Irata/TRSI, Lutz Osterkorn, Mr Zero Page/RSI/Elite, Non Stop Cracker/ACC, Pater Becker/FCG, Peter and Marcel/FAC, The Mercenary Cracker/FCG, The Omega Man/TCS and TSN/TST.
The most popular year in software history was... 1941. Well, not really, but certainly one of the more popular sysline numbers. Radwar, Flash Cracking Group, Yeti Factories and Cracking Force Berlin were some of the other ones sharing this same number.
The Light Circle was an early example of how close the cracking community was in Germany. Essentially it allowed a bunch of friends to operate under the one label but at the same time continue to produce under their own personal groups without any conflicts.
Some of their big releases included: The Games: Winter Edition,1942 105%, Gauntlet II, Arkanoid I & II, Into the Eagle's Nest, Skate or Die and Outrun.
The label discontinued towards the end of 1988.
Founded by Scanner, Skylab, AMAdeus, Drago & General Zoff in April 1987, The Movers were a German cracking group that were built upon New Balance Bochum (NBB).
Skylab about the group name: "After AMAdeus and Drago left Dynamic Duo again, we just swapped stuff, but then we got fast unreleased stuff from old C64 contacts of us and so we decided to start a new group - mainly an Amiga group because all members already got an Amiga (only General Zoff was a bit late again ;-) ) The reason for that name is totally easy. We just thought about being a group that could do a good job; we wanted to move to the top and so we chose The Movers without taking into consideration that it stands for a company doing removals..."
Often Strike Force was mentioned only in the greetings scroll rather than the full cooperation name, The Movers did just as much work as Strike Force as General Zoff explains: "Conan was responsible for all those amazing Intros and trainers which contributed much to the success! And he was a very busy dude in trading… While myself was a person in the background with just 3 or 4 contacts to the outside world and doing the more special things for the co-op. He became a very good coder and cracker later on indeed!)"
Important cracks were Denaris (two versions), Tiger Road 100%, Mini Putt 100% and Gunsmoke. After the big bust at the end of 1988 the group died together with their partner Strike Force.
Old Soldiers never die, young ones do
The Sharks were a big name in Germany but also had a huge presence in Finland. With over 300 releases, they had a reputation of releasing quality-wares and quality tools (Dark Force, formerly of Shining 8, is behind the well-known sequence packers Dark-Squeezer and Level-Squeezer). The group packed up and moved on in 1995.
* In 1990 they were once in a cracking cooperation with Thundertronix (TNT) who was based in Ireland.
German and Proud
The group contained some true legends such as Mr. Cursor (Ivo Herzeg - aka IRQ and NMI Monster-coder), Speedcracker (two guys) and Caos (two guys). The group died in November 1989 with members moving on to join with some friends in Elite.
Trivia: check the TV show-footage from 1988 showing some of their members cracking a C64 game (Speedcracker, ZAZ and Caos).
Originally founded under the name Stormfront by Don Promillo in October 1991; the group renamed in December 1991 to Vagabonds.
Not a legendary group but certainly one that made an impact to the scene, mainly through mail-releases rather than first release cracks. The group released over 230 cracks between 1991 until their death in October 1993. The group died when main members Mindcrime and Executor joined Excess.
* They had a large war with fellow Germans X-Rated. Mostly caused by Vagabonds comments on Count Zero's cracking ability (L'trimm crossed over to X-Rated as a result).
* They sent out billions of "Vagabonds" stickers, printed out by Morac and Firefly. There were so many stickers that it is reported they landed in places like NASA, Buckingham Palace and more!
WOD 1933 was founded by Marc on the 25th of February 1987. Only a handful of cracks but a memorable pillar of the cracking scene with members like Mr. Lee, Dirk and Walter.
The group died when Seven Eleven was born in June 1988 with most members joining.
* Got to love Sebastian's "Demo Maker De Luxe" released by Digital Marketing in 1988! Also, did you know that Harry had one eye only?
Founded by Marc, Mike and Wander (R.I.P.) in 1987 the group lasted a whole decade in the scene with around 300 releases.
The group was pretty much all-round, demos, magazines, tools, cracks and even some first releases from time to time. It died in 1993 but was rebuilt by X-Raffi and Danzig in 1995 mainly with guys from TRSI. After a few more cracks and demos the group died again sometime in 1996.
Mike: "In 1990, I stopped because I was caught by the police. They couldn't prosecute me because the crime was committed when I was 13. The rest of X-Rated continued for some years, and that made me very happy because X-Rated released some nice demos and became a sure-fire success."
Whilst X-Ray was known for their schnapz drinking cracking power, they also had a strong magazine presence through the classic Bild Zeitung magazine.
First releases came out under X-Ray also, with trading partners such as NEC and TSM to help spread their wares to the states. Wares like X-Out, Second World and Gremlins 2 (one-filed with autostart/fast loader, one of the earliest if not the first of its kind). Also, who could forget the intros attached by Trigger & Jatagan?
All good things do eventually come to an end. The Arrogance and some others like Raze and Major-X left to rebuild Success in 1991 and in February 1992 X-Ray dissolved when key members left to build up Enigma.
Other members that should be mention include: The Excellenz, The Elegance, Rygar, Rap and Driver (The Majesty).
* The Fleet was more of a sub-group, all members of X-Ray released stuff using the handle The Fleet, including others that joined X-Ray after the crew's inception.
* Also, Heatseeker/Crest met up with The Arrogance in Stuttgart at Zoolook's place. Crest did not send out Heatseeker's cracks as Goldrush said they were too old. The Arrogance had a different opinion and asked Heatseeker to join X-Ray. Heatseeker did not want to leave Crest, so it was decided he should have double membership with the handle The Ignorance as there was already The Arrogance. This started a "the"-trend in X-Ray, with all members some months later having "the" at the start of their handle. Moving on - the fake label of X-Ray was Lutschers (The Ignorance was Schnullerbacke and Chrysagon was Ernst Eiswuerfel also Basuka Joe & Axel Sweat was Trigger & Jatagan).
* The Arrogance was two people, Thorsten aka Reptil and Thomas aka TJ Lazer. aka The Capitalist.
Lonely on the Top
Yeti Factories were part of the "New International Standard". During the Danish Gold party in July 1987 some guys got together and figured that there needed to be a standard in the cracking scene as far as terminology is concerned and the naming of the releases in the directory (e.g. "gamename-/group" or "gamename+3 101%/group" etc).
Yeti was there to come to an agreement that was to change the cracking scene on the C64 forever. Others involved in the agreement were 1001 Crew, Danish Gold, Fairlight, Raw Deal Inc., Relax and Triad.
After over 150 releases, Yeti Factories started to break apart with some members joining the newly founded Beastie Boys. The crew died in December 1987 when Yeti left to take a break from the scene (he later returns in 1989 to join Lotus).
Well, the FRG is such a big entity I cannot forget to include some others like...
- Actual Cracking Entertainment (ACE) - The Silents were a sub-section later on for them too!
- AEK Crackware - based in Essen, later to become The Fanatic Duo and the umbrella group The Worlds Greatest Importers (TWGI).
- Cyberpunx (CPX) - one of the original "oldie" cracking groups founded by Count Zero. Unfortunately many of their cracks are missing!
- The Lightforce (TLF) and The New Fashion '77 (TNF).
...also a scener to mention here was Delta/Exact. He was in fact Delta/TCC/RSI on the Amiga - remember his "RSI Megademo"? :D
You have just skimmed through a treasure-trove of information, much of which was directly obtained from the sources involved.
The Deutschland cracking scene holds the crown when it comes to being the pioneers in the European scene. Thanks to some of those legends, the scene was shaped in a way that is unforgettable and this segment pays homage to that fact.