[SIGCIS-Members] IBM 1401: The Musical! (almost)

Thomas Haigh thaigh at computer.org
Thu Aug 26 19:59:35 PDT 2010

This odd discovery brought a smile to me on a frustrating day:


http://www.amazon.com/IBM-1401-A-Users-Manual/dp/B000S5AMS2 ($4.95 download)

&s=music&qid=1282877401&sr=1-1 (regular CD)


Summary: Composer Jóhann Jóhannsson has recorded an orchestral work inspired
by and incorporating the sounds of the first IBM 1401 installed in Iceland.
(Perhaps the first computer in Iceland – Petri Paju would know this
) The
title is “IBM 1401 A User’s Manual”. It’s also interesting to see that the
trick of generating music via radio interference long predated the
microcomputers of the 1970s, as the sounds are supposed to have come from
his father’s work in 1971. It’s not actually a musical, but parts were
apparently used for modern dance and there are some spoken passages.


I’m playing the first track (movement?) right now, and it is deeply strange.
This should put everyone in the right mood for the “Materiality and
Immateriality” theme of our forthcoming workshop.


If only more Icelanders back in 2006 had put their quirky ingenuity into
celebrating old technology rather than structuring financial deals





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