Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ferranti Mark 1: the real iPod precursor?

Here is something that for those who now regard computers and music as inseparable - in creation, production and delivery - and a fascinating article from the BBC.
The oldest music "sung" by a computer and of which a recording survives is, owing to a total lack of digital means to do otherwise, an acetate 12" recorded by the BBC Outside Broadcast unit at Manchester University in 1951.
The equipment was rather different to an iPod but it was at least programmable, within its very limited ability, and without physical re-wiring too. It had a 1024-bit memory unless it failed (it often did), or the power went off, or was deliberately turned off for any reason. It had no hard (permanent) memory at all so if any of these things happened absolutely everything had to be reloaded from scratch.
The picture below is merely a fraction of the whole machine; just what we might now regard as the 'user interface'!

The ultimate iPOD ancestor?
It's highlight was a rendition of Baa, baa black sheep, for which this is the link.

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