Digger | Video, 2012
KC 85/3, T2i, Cubase, Avid

When in 1986 the KC 85/3 home computer came out in East Germany, it barely reached any household due to its high pricing and great demand in the industry and educational institutions. But it wasn’t until the revolution of 1989 when the East German computer industry collapsed that one could easily get his hands on one of those machines. Fortunately, my friend Dr. Evil saved a unit from destruction and kept it in his basement.

Back then, software was stored on regular audio cassettes, which meant that you had to deal with tape jam, non-functioning programs and the permanent risk of data loss. Despite these difficulties, programs – most of them plagiarisms – were happily exchanged, copied from the magazine ‘rd’ (rechentechnik / datenverarbeitung) and recorded from the radio station DT64.

The KC 85 systems still have an active fan base that provides appropriate information and a large software archive. There you’ll find one of the most famous and successful ports for the system: The arcade game Digger. In this addictive pile of code the player navigates through an underground maze while collecting emeralds and gold. But how are you getting this thing to work? For example, the tool KCLOAD by Henrik Haftmann can be used to transfer programs via audio onto the KC 85 hardware. The PC acts as a comfortable tape drive and produces an audio signal from the saved KC files, which is sent to the sound card output and then fed into the KC 85. Et voilà. You’re finally able to play the game.

Of course you can also use the hardware as a sound source. One day, Dr. Evil came over and handed me a sequence of tones recorded directly from the KC 85/3. I added a few tracks in Cubase and proposed to shoot some close-ups from the screen for illustration.