Datamation, May 1972

Josh Dersch derschjo at
Thu Nov 17 15:08:58 CST 2016

On Thu, Nov 17, 2016 at 12:44 PM, Kyle Owen <kylevowen at> wrote:

> On Thu, Nov 17, 2016 at 10:10 AM, Paul Koning <paulkoning at>
> wrote:
> >
> > 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.
> >
> I'd be very interested in any sound samples, if anyone has any...I guess
> that's perhaps unlikely. And on that note (heh), are there any other
> computer music albums out there? I know of the First Philadelphia Computer
> Music Festival, the two Unplayed by Human Hands, and it looks like the
> University of Melbourne had an electronic music album too. There's a 45
> entitled Computer Composites that featured several IBM systems,
> I'm finding it rather difficult to find LPs that are assuredly produced by
> a digital computer versus by other electronic means, like early
> synthesizers, etc.

I have an LP, "Electronic Music from the University of Illinois" (1967 or
If I recall, they used the U of I's ILLIAC IV in the recording.

It's somewhat interesting but the electronic parts of it are sometimes hard
to discern :). Looks like someone's digitized it here:

I digitized an 45 of music generated by an Orchestra-80 (TRS-80 4-channel
synth), it's called "Classical Mosquito!" -- you can grab it from here:

As an aside, I've been (slowly) working on emulating Ted Kaehler's organ
keyboard / FM synth for the Xerox Alto (c. 1974) in ContrAlto.  I have just
enough technical information and code listings to make it possible, but
there's just enough information missing to make it difficult...

- Josh

> Thanks, Al, for the scan upload! I've enjoyed reading that.
> Kyle

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