The word demo can have at least three meanings, but all of them are derived from shortening the word demonstration.
A demo is a demonstration of feelings and opinions on a political issue. Another name for a protest march or a sit-in.
In the arts
A demo can be a way for artists, writers and programmers to demonstrate their work, usually in an inexpensive way.
In music, a demo version or demo of a song is one recorded for reference rather than for release. Many artists use demo versions as quick sketches to share with bandmates or arrangers; in other cases a songwriter might make a demo to send to artists in hopes of having the song professionally recorded. A demo is a way for artists to get their musical ideas on tape, and in most cases, provide an example of the ideas to record labels, producers or other artists.
Many unsigned bands and artists record demos in order to obtain a record contract . These demos are usually sent to record labels in hopes that the artist will be discovered. Usually, large record labels ignore demos that are sent to them, unless they request them.
Many signed bands and artists record demos of new songs before recording an album. It is also common for songwriters to record demos before submitting their songs to artists to record. These demos (or "Songwriter's Demos") are recorded with minimal instrumentation - usually just an acoustic guitar or piano, and the vocalist.
Often demo versions are recorded on relatively crude equipment such as boom-box cassette recorders, or 4-track or 8-track machines but demos often capture the feeling or intent of the artist better than the final version of the song.
These demos are rarely heard by the public, although some artists do eventually release rough demos in rarities compilations or box sets. Other demo versions have been unofficially released as bootlegs, such as The Beatles' Escher Demos . Several artists have eventually officially released demo versions of their songs as albums or companion pieces to albums.
Notable officially-released demo versions include:
(see also Demo Scene
A demo is a way for demomakers to demonstrate their abilities in programming (that's the coding part), music (zik), drawing (gfx), and/or 3D modeling. It is a kind of non-interactive multimedia presentation, the difference with a classical animation being that the display of a demo is computed in real time (like people performing a play compared to showing a movie), making computing power considerations the biggest challenge. For now demos are mostly composed of 3D animations mixed with 2D effects and Full screen effects.
The boot block demos of the 1980s, demos that were created to fit within the small (generally 1024 to 4096 bytes) first block of the floppy disk that was to be loaded into RAM, were typically created so that software crackers could boast of their accomplishment prior to the loading of the game. What began as a type of electronic graffiti on cracked software became, however, an art form unto itself, and demo makers continue to push themselves to the limits of their abilities by making these short demos to this day.
There are three main kinds or types of demos: "4k intros", "64k intros" and "demos", which only differ in terms of size limit. Demos have no specific size limit, whereas intros do. Hence, intros also show off the programmer's ability to squeeze much into little space, often by generating graphic and sound data rather than just reading it from a datafile. Because of the extremely low size limit, 4k intros often have no music.
Restrictions change from one competition to another, depending on the machine on which the programs are run. The demos are now most commonly designed to run on PC, but not that long ago were mostly designed to run on Commodore 64, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga home computers. There are even demos running on such diverse platforms as VIC-20, Amstrad CPC, TO7 , BeBox, RISC PC, Macintosh, Game Boy, GP32 and SONY PlayStation.
Notable demo groups include the Future Crew, Renaissance , the Silents , Cascada , Witan , Triton and many others.
For a more self-explaining definition, see Pouet.net for one of the most active Demo Scene repository.
In computer and video games
In computer or video games, a demo can be a gameplay recording. The term originates in demonstrational recordings used for advertising, but is also used for recordings by players who wish to show off their skills or some feature in a game. See speedruns for more information.
It can also refer to an FRS version of a video (or computer) game that only has some levels available and is released by the game's publisher to help users get a feel of the game before deciding whether to buy the full version.