Saturday, 27 September 2008

Music From Mathematics

Last week, I blogged about the Human League, two of whom were computer operators in the days when computers filled an entire room.

This is the IBM7090 mainframe, which was sold from 1959 until 1963. It was the second generation of transistorised computers, and a typical system sold for $2,900,000 or could be rented for $63,500 a month. The picture was taken in the NASA mission control computer room, where a pair of 7090 was used to help America's first manned space flight, Friendship 7, piloted by John Glenn.

In 1961, the IBM 7090 became the first computer to sing and compose music, and have a record released.

"With the development of this equipment carried out at the Bell Telephone Laboratories, the composer will have the benefits of a notational system so precise that future generations will know exactly how the composer intended his music to sound. He will have at his command an "instrument" which is itself directly involved in the creative process. "

If you've ever seen the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" you might remember the HAL9000 computer, and the scene where Dave Bowman dismantles HAL and the computer's consciousness starts to disintegrate.

Eventually, HAL regresses to infancy, and sings the song "Daisy Bell(A Bicycle Built for Two)". That song comes from the IBM 7090, and is Side 1, Track 3 of 'Music From Mathematics'. The IBM 7090 also impersonates a honky-tonk piano.

M.V. Mathews and the IBM 7090 - Bicycle Built For Two

Found at bee mp3 search engine

HAL: "I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you. It's called 'Daisy'..."

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