About Scene Letters


There have been many attempts to chronicle the history of the Demo Scene. But there has been one key element of that history that has never really been shown before.That is the life of the Mail Swapper/Trader. In the Pre-Internet days, these brave souls would be the bastions on which the scene ecology survived. They were the people in the forefront of the Scene Distribution.

These swapping days were very addictive. It was common for people to have over 200 contacts. Everything went through the mail system, with the software coming directly from the creators/crackers. The only other way the software was distributed in those days was via the humble BBS (Bulletin Board System) with the speedy 2400baud speeds!.The idea was to supply the newest software before any one else has it. It was very important to supply disks with stuff the other person didn't have. If you supplied only old stuff, then there would be a low chance of the person replying back to you.

I recently found my whole collection of Letters that I received when I was mailtrading, and thought it would be a fascinating idea to show people what it was with a little documented area of the Scene. A lot of these letters are just random musings of teenagers, whilst others are a long discussion of something important at the time. There way be some rude drawings/words amongst these letters. You have been warned! I also have redacted the addresses, and other naughty things :). I also have opened up the site, so that if, you were a swapper as well, you can upload the letters that you have received. There is also a section for items that where sent besides the letters.

The thing you'll see in a lot of the letters is a reference to "Stamps Back". The problem with having all these contacts is that it cost a lot to send the packages (and these packages could consist of up to 50 diskettes! - sent overseas!).  The problem was that a lot of people where just teenagers, and thus, had a lack money.  What was common at the time (and AFAIK it doesn't work anymore), is gluing over the face of the stamps, so that the recipient just cuts the stamp off the letter. With a gentle rub, the postmark stamp comes right off with the stamp ready to be reused once again.  I know i was buying around 100 stamps a week to keep up with sending the stuff.

Once important thing to note, is that the language used at the time is different to that of now. For example, the word wares/warez. In the 90's, it meant ANY software, legal and illegal, whereas today, it has a illegal connotation. Speaking of the letters sent to me, there are some mentions of me swapping videos and music tapes. I myself never did it, I had some friends that were after all those kind of thing. I couldn't copy any of that stuff anyway as I only ever had one VCR recorder.

Do you have any letters that you received when you Mail Traded? if so, please register an account, and Upload your letters. I want to incorporate letters from other Mail Swappers/Traders as well. Don't forget, that you can also comment on any of the Letters. (But you need to be registered into the site to do that)

Welcome to Scene Letters and I hope that you enjoy your stay.

Tony Hasselbacher (The Heavyweight)