Datamation, May 1972

Paul Koning paulkoning at
Thu Nov 17 10:10:56 CST 2016

> On Nov 17, 2016, at 10:26 AM, Kyle Owen <kylevowen at> wrote:
>> I wish...but there may be an alternative.  There is a 1970 book called "The
>> Computer and Music" containing 21 articles and documents on the subject.
>> Edited by Harry B. Lincoln.  It is very possible that the Datamation
>> article drew content from this book and you might find the book for sale on
>> online..
> Thanks Bill. Just ordered a copy from Amazon.
> I just picked up "Unplayed by Human Hands" (the first album, from 1975) and
> wanted to learn a little more about how it was done. I do know it was a
> PDP-8 and Model 33 ASR connected to a pipe organ, and there are bits and
> pieces referencing it online.
> For instance, I found this project:
> But, alas...there doesn't seem to be any snippets of actual code from the
> album there.
> The code is described in some detail here too:
> Again, no actual code. Bummer.

Interesting.  From around 1975 or so, and worth learning about is the music synthesizer developed on the PLATO system at the University of Illinois by Sherwin Gooch.  The hardware is described in great detail (including full schematics) in US Patent 4,206,675.  The software includes a music code compiler, using a code somewhat like the one you referenced but different in details.  I don't know if one borred from the other or if they are independent inventions.  (Sherwin might remember.)

A few years later PLATO added a 16 channel waveform synthesis device, controlled by the microprocessor in the terminals.  It had a similar music code, plus support for a piano keyboard (with key velocity sensing) for music input with real time display of the score, as well as score printing.  Not long after, Lippold Haken created a keyboard that's continuous rather than discrete (think of a keyboard like the fingerboard of a violin); a successor of that is still sold today.


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