Holger Gehrmann

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Holger Burkhard Dirk Gehrmann
Holger Gehrmann - 05.jpg
Gender Male
Born 1968-05-06
Birth Place
Nationality German   Germany.svg
Died 2008-02-11 (Aged 39)
Aliases Studiomusic
H. Gehrmann

Holger Gehrmann was a German programmer, composer and computer game producer. His label reLINE Software is best remembered for Oil Imperium and Biing!.

As a child, Gehrmann sang classical and other music in a choir. In 1979, before he could afford an own computer, he started walking into department stores which had a Commodore PET 2001 to program in BASIC. On the VIC 20, he programmed his first music drivers in BASIC, entered songs as numbers, and spread them on cartridges in 1983. Between March and August, he switched to the Commodore 64, spread tools, songs and games in machine language, and got a soft scrolling routine in BASIC printed in Happy-Computer 4/84.

For about 6 months, Gehrmann worked at Verlag Heinz Heise in his hometown of Hanover, who tasked him with converting their radio jingle to the C64. It was used in their INPUT 64 magazine from issues 3/85 to 9/85. From issues 6/85 to 1/86, he wrote and programmed a course on the SID chip.

Still in 1985, Gehrmann had his friend Uwe Grabosch make graphics for Top Secret (C64). Meanwhile in Duisburg, Dieter Eckhardt and his older brother Wolfgang were running Gebr. Eckhardt Computersoftware. When Dieter saw Gehrmann's tool Disk Exerciser, he decided to phone him. The company published a newer version of Top Secret, but was abandoned as Wolfgang married. On April 1, 1986, Dieter and Gehrmann founded Golden Games which developed, bought, published and licensed games. During this time, Americans called and mispronounced Dieter, which much later inspired the name of Dyter-07. Unfortunately, licensees did not pay, and Gehrmann left in 1987 to found reLINE Software with Grabosch.

Gehrmann mainly developed fast functions, script languages, user interfaces, and employed Karsten Obarski (then also in Hanover) for over 4 years. In 1992, he got conscripted for 12 months. In 2001, he was getting into DirectX and Direct3D and testing other companies' applications. In 2003, he was programming for an airline and did not have time to compose anymore.

His favorite games were strategy games, specifically Command & Conquer (DOS), Command & Conquer: Red Alert (DOS), adventures by LucasArts, and Pinball Fantasies. He collected pictures of actresses and liked all kinds of good music, but admitted preferring Italo Disco, and that his C64 music resembled some early music by Chris Hülsbeck (himself an Italo Disco fan). Gehrmann loved some of Hülsbeck's pieces and met him circa 1989. He liked nostalgia, felt honored that his compositions were still liked and remixed, found music composition more interesting than audio quality, but also was glad when game soundtracks could be in MP3.

Sadly, on February 11, 2008, Gehrmann fell off a 6th floor and died instantly. The funeral was on February 15. On May 4, Eckhardt confirmed that they were on the phone a few days earlier and it was not murder, but also recounted that they found German society to be quite cold in the 1980s already and blamed mudslinging in the industry. In 2012, Obarski wanted to know how Gehrmann was doing and have a chat. He wrote and performed a musical obituary.

Audio Development


Gehrmann used SOPROL and Soundcontrol. The step from the C64 (with its analog synthesizer) to the Amiga (with its support for samples from any synthesizer) was his biggest.

He considered Karsten Obarski's Oil Imperium (AMI) and Centerbase (AMI) milestones and has remixed the latter.

Atari ST

Gehrmann reprogrammed SOPROL in K-Seka and explained its workings for ST NEWS Volume 2 Issue 3.

Commodore 16

Gehrmann used his own driver.

Commodore 64

In 1984, Gehrmann developed Soundcontrol 2 in a machine language monitor. In 1986, he designed SOPROL (sound programming language) and wrote a compiler and driver in an assembler.

Among his favorites are Rob Hubbard (especially Commando (C64)), Gyruss (C64), and besides the classics, Floating Point Action (C64) (which "only a hardcore programmer can compose") by Oliver Klaewer, Apricot by Kenneth Jonsson, Church, Crooner, Square Out (C64) (all by Thomas Mogensen), and among his own, Hollywood Poker (C64) and his conversion of action2 - Oil Imperium (AMI). He loved the possibility of pulse width modulation and the filter, but disliked the small number of channels, glitches on short attacks and short decays, and especially the inconsistency of the filter.


Gehrmann wrote drivers for the Tandy sound chip (which "really sucks"), the Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card, Sound Blaster and General MIDI.


Released Title Sample Notes
1983-??-?? Galactic Meteors (C64)
1984-??-?? Action on Protection (C64)
1985-??-?? Top Secret (C64)
1986-0?-?? Operation Hongkong (C64)
1987-01-?? Hollywood Poker (C64)
1987-??-?? Emerald Mine (AMI)
1988-01-?? Clever & Smart (AMI)
1988-10-?? Graffiti Man (C64)
1989-08-?? Oil Imperium (C64) All but reLINE jingle composed by Karsten Obarski.
198?-??-?? Graffiti Man (AMI)
198?-??-?? Graffiti Man (AST)
198?-??-?? Hollywood Poker (CP4)
1990-02-?? The North Sea Inferno (C64) Main.
1990-0?-?? Legend of Faerghail (AST) With Karsten Obarski.
199?-??-?? Biing! (AMI)
199?-??-?? Biing! (DOS)

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