When running some keygens (i.e. applications that generate working license keys for possibly pirated software), low-quality background music is played while the user waits. See this sample YouTube video.

What history contributed to these musical "cracktros" still prevalent in keygens?

  • I edited to make it more clear what you are asking. There is definitely a history here, but the question is pretty broad. It all started with ASCII artists, I think.
    – Brian H
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 0:16

1 Answer 1


Short answer: It's a holdover from the Warez scene, and more specifically around the time of the Commodore Amiga when pirates had ready access to music software.

Back in the day (and less often nowadays), pirates "signed" cracked software with their name or emblem or something to that effect. As more and more pirates entered the scene and piracy became more difficult, a cracker's signature became a source of pride and a show of the owner's technical prowess, as well as a show of professional superiority over other crackers. Think, for example, the needlessly flashy company logos at the beginning of movies or games.

When the Amiga raised the general bar on the graphics and sound capabilities of the home PC, cracktros started becoming art pieces in their own right. Your average pirate now had access to music, dynamic color, layering, and composing tools that didn't exist one generation before. In the spirit of competition between pirates, flashy intros and elaborate music that stressed the technical prowess of the machine and the cracker became a must for cracked software, keygens included. Some famous examples of these "demos" pushed to incredible degrees is Megademo and State of the Art.

Nowadays, some kind of cute intro is often included in modern keygens, although it's less about technical prowess and more of a throwback.

  • 6
    First, you should trace crack scene traditions back to Commodore C64, not Amiga. Second, the kind of art evolved from crack scene is demoscene (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscene) which is now quite powerful kind of art and you simply shouldn't call it 'absurd'. It is no more absurd than for example suprematism or cubism :)
    – lvd
    Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 4:33
  • @lvd The cracking scene did go back to C64, but in terms of when music like the kind sampled on in the link became vogue, I think it's fair to start with the Amiga. Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 5:33
  • 7
    @GGMG - given that I just found an hour-long compilation of C64 cracktros on YouTube, I tend to disagree with several of your assertions: Intro screens were certainly an art form, including sound for many/most of them, even in the C64 days. No question that the Amiga took it to new heights with it's awesome capabilities, but there's no question in my mind that the intros on the C64 were every bit as artistically worthy as the later ones on the Amiga. Commented Jun 29, 2017 at 15:06

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