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Breakin’ The Borders – The Atari ST and the Creative People vol. 1

1984–1990: From digital underground magicians to magical game developers. Our digital identity began with the computer youth of the 80s. This is the compelling story of a European swarm intelligence struggling with a truly limited 16-bit machine and creating exceptional digital art to launch their own pixel business with Thalion.  


  • Hardback Edition, Offset printing, Sewn binding
  • 230 × 170 mm Landscape format (12" Atari screen size)
  • 400 pages Atari- and Demoscene history
  • 135g/m² matt coated paper
  • Extra fine raster print with vivid colours
  • Multi-page specials with 500 screens, more than 40 demos exposed
  • 420 historical plates of adverts, photographs of developers, etc...
  • Double sided illustrations and compositings
  • 30 Features / Flashbacks with sidekicks and behind-the-scene facts
  • Tools of the makers and the programming story
  • Popculture integrated: influencial music, movies and inspiring artists 
  • Thalion classics with international press analysis
  • 40-pages Interview appendix with the makers
  • Sync scrolling & Fullscreen special by guest author Troed Sångberg
  • Explanations on techniques like Bit-blit, Antialiasing, Dithering, etc....  


With a foreword by Prof. Dr. Gundolf S. Freyermuth, co-founder of the Cologne Game Lab. In BREAKIN' THE BORDERS, the author of numerous publications on our digital age talks about the roots of “demoscenes”.      


A narrated journey through the Atari ST demoscene – an important subcultural phenomenon in the era of home computers. For the first time, the fast movement designs are recorded on paper. A book in the format of a 12" Atari screen with film-like sequential tableaus presenting over 500 demo screens. How do you combat limits and system requirements? How about making something possible that a machine really doesn’t allow? What challenges did these 16-bit computer freaks face? What did they learn? What are they doing today?


Memories of Makers from The Exceptions (TEX), The Carebears (TCB), The Lost Boys (TLB), Overlanders (OVR), Gigabyte Crew, TNT-Crew, Level 16, The Respectables, ST NEWS, Delta Force, Omega, 2-Life Crew, Nordic Coders, SYNC, AAC, Flexible Front, Phalanx, Vector, Total Vision Inc., and many more ...


With Erik Simon (ES), Jochen Hippel (Mad Max), Michael Bittner (Hexogen), Richard Karsmakers (Cronos), Michael Raasch (Daryl), Timothy Moss (Manikin), David Moss (Spaz), Michael Schüßler (Sammy Joe), Stefan Posthuma (Digital Insanity), Stefan Kimmlingen (Tyrem), Niklas Malmqvist (Tanis), Anders Cedronius (AN Cool), Marc Rosocha (Thalion), Michael Grohe (Thalion), Monika Krawinkel (Thalion), Holger Flöttmann (Thalion), Celal Kandemiroglu (Thalion), Mike Mee (Mug UK), David Mistouflet (Dim) and Patrick Bricout (Mr. Bee) ...


Demo classics: B.I.G. Demo, Cuddly Demos, Delirious Demo 2, European Demos, Life’s A Bitch, Mindbomb Demo, Overscan Demos, SoWatt Demo, Syntax Terror Demo, Union Demo, and many more ... 


Thalion/Eclipse games: Chambers of Shaolin, Dragonflight, Leavin’ Teramis, Seven Gates of Jambala, Warp, Wings of Death, To be on Top, Ninja Remix.


BREAKIN’ THE BORDERS goes back to the time when Atari ST and Amiga were still revolutionary mouse control devices and DTP and interactive design still meant the future. The book unveils the founding of Atari Corporation, touches on the marketing of Atari Computers and explores the origins of the Atari ST demoscene, whose creative people were on a rollercoaster ride into the thriving digital entertainment industry.

Limited Hardback Edition

39,90 €

  • 1,3 kg
  • Sold Out

Visual storytelling

The most impressive demos of the 80s printed in a book as if they were moving on paper. More than ten multi-page specials with hundreds of demo screens on 400 pages. 

BREAKIN’ THE BORDERS looks behind the scenes and follows the creative path of the young people. Experience the fascination for rapid screen movements in a new way. 

Making of digital tools

Back to the 80s

A journey through the thriving 16-bit industry of the 1980s: the book shows Atari’s worldwide marketing, the roots of the Atari ST demoscene and its way into business. 

BREAKIN’ THE BORDERS contains the development of the most important Thalion games until 1990. Read about the everyday life of a software company founded by the digital underground. 

development of the Atari ST

Interviews with the Makers

Scene members and Thalion game designers look back on their time of life. Exclusive interviews reveal their thoughts on pioneering 16-bit computers and how they broke into the early game industry.  

New thoughts on an unforgettable digital age of creative computing, by Jochen Hippel, Michael Raasch, Marc Rosocha, Erik Simon, Niklas Malmqvist, Tim Moss, David Moss, Richard Karsmakers and Holger Flöttmann – to name but a few.

More than meets the eye ...

About the project

The demoscene has developed into an international computer subculture. How did the bedroom coders of the ’80s overcome hardware boundaries? How were pixel art and microchip music made? What was it like to be part of this digital avant-garde? 

The Atari ST and The Creative People is a narrative series of books about Atari’s 16-bit era and its digital underground scene. This project was made possible by the commitment of many old scene members and the Cologne Game Lab.

Cologne Game Lab
Cologne Game Lab