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CRACKERS I: The Gold Rush

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Software piracy in the ’80s and ’90s. The first book in the CRACKERS series. Digital visions and copy parties, intrigues and industrial espionage, disk traders and pirates. Elitism, escape and persecution: The mysterious life of crackers and their scene organisations shaped the computer age. 

  • Revised Hardback Edition + free PDF
  • 170 × 230 mm portrait format
  • 336 brilliant colour pages
  • 130g/m² Art Silk Plus paper
  • Fine print
  • Surface laquer sealing
  • UV-resistant and abrasion-proof

From USA to Europe. A narrative journey back to the last century when data was stored on floppy disks, computer games became entertainment and the law was unprepared for what happened next.

In a mixture of oral histories and media reports, the trail of one of the most secretive underground IT societies is uncovered: What distinguishes a cracker from a hacker? Why were they considered a threat to the entire games industry? Captivating anecdotes, historical depictions and hundreds of pictures bring this exciting software episode back to life.

The book series not only exposes the machinations of the underground, but also takes an in-depth look at the contemporary games industry, press relations and the limits and possibilities of the various national laws. But CRACKERS does not stop there. We calculate production budgets, let game makers have their say and put in a word for the development of cracker and demo groups.

Special Features
 and articles on Hagbard Celine (Illuminatus!) // Hacker vs. Cracker // Radwar Party 2 & 3 // Was (Not Was) // Cracking the Industry // The Crackers Deal (mimetic entrepreneurs) // Cult of The Circle // Blue Boxing // GNU license // Hackers in the Movies // WD1772 (Atari floppy controller) // Bootsector Messages (Thalion) //  Dragonflight (uncrackable protection?) // Manual Protection // Game Extensions (value enhancement).

Featuring: Radwar, German Cracking Service, B.O.S.S., MCA, Hotline, Dynamic Duo, 42-Crew, Copy Service Stuttgart, Troll & Co, ST Computer Service, The Blade Runners, The Medway Boys, Pompey Pirates, Automation, LSD, The Corporation, BBC, Cynix, The Replicants, Delight, The Exceptions, The Union, The Lost Boys, TCB, The Empire, Elite, Tristar & Red Sector, Thalion, Eclipse, Magic Bytes, Factor 5, Rainbow Arts, Argonica, Acornsoft, Graftgold, Firebird, Ocean, U.S. Gold, Magnetic Scrolls, Bullfrog, DMA Design, Mastertronic, Codemasters, Kingsoft, Erbe Software, Epyx, Electronic Arts, Ubi Soft, Infocom, Brøderbund, Microprose, Sierra, Lucasfilm Games, FAST, APP, Copylock Software, Gravenreuth & Syndikus… and many more.

CRACKERS: The Gold Rush takes the reader a crucial step deeper into a highly organised illegal European network that acted like a corporation ahead of its time. Key industry figures such as Rob Northen make their point. Former codebreakers on Apple II, BBC Micro, Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, C64, Amiga and especially Atari ST reveal the truth of a unique computer youth.

Interviews with the protagonists and contributors are available in the sequel: The Data Storm


135g/m² semi-matt paper, silk gloss

Delivered contents

Book/s + PDF/s, bookmark/s, postcard/s


170 × 230 mm

Production quality

Hardback edition, reliable binding, UV-stable offset printing, varnish-protected pages

Customer Reviews

Based on 7 reviews
Beautiful Book

A beautiful book about a subject I was living as a kid. Highly recommended if you grew up with a Commodore 64, Amiga, or ST.

A walk down memory lane

Really fun to read, interessing stories from insiders, brought back memories of the "good old times"

Marc Hofstee
Kindheitserinnerungen und deren historischer Hintergrund

Machen wir uns nichts vor: Dieses Buch bedient eine Nische. Da muss man schon sehr spezielle Interessen haben, um überhaupt auf dieses Thema aufmerksam zu werden. Und doch, dieses Buch ist ein Feuerwerk! Es beleuchtet eine Zeit, die ich höchstens am Rande mit bekommen habe und deren Haupterinnerung bei mir die Iron Maiden-Motive der Ladebildschirme an meinem Atari 1040 STe waren und die grausam krächzende Melodie von Secret of Monkey Island, die sich für meine Ohren damals doch so wundervoll anhörte. Der einzige Wermutstropfen ist, dass das Buch bislang nur auf Englisch erschienen ist, aber das ist kein Minuspunkt. Wer auch nur ein wenig Interesse an den Spielen der späten 80er hat, selbst einen Home Computer hatte und möglicherweise auch ein oder zwei kopierte Disketten - der sollte diesem Buch auf jeden Fall eine Chance geben!

Teenage heros

No other books depicts my teenage heros and their underground activities. It's fun, accurate, anectodes filled, unique and in a gorgeous graphic form.


Great book

Capture the unique spirit of the 80s gaming industry

CRACKERS takes a bold look into the valleys of the floppy disk trade in Europe. US game production cast its shadow ahead and a game began that not only the illegal scene used to its advantage.

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