Jack Tramiel

A few days ago Jack Tramiel past away. For most people it’s the his product the Commodore 64 that has them teary eyed in rememberance. For me however it is the Atari ST. When it came out the 520ST not only competed with the Mac it bested it on many fronts and it cost much less. I remember the first time seeing the Atari monochrome screen. People rave about the clearness of the new iPad 3’s screen and like today’s raves for the iPad that Atari screen was something to behold. It was so sharp and clear for the time. In addition the ST had something no other main computer system had: MIDI ports. I used DR T.’s KCS (Keyboard Controlled Sequencer) and later Cubase on a 1040ST. By the way theses were also in my own opinion beautifuly designed machines. Just look at that image above. Like my Apple products today I really loved that machine. It tempted me to create. I did also own an Amiga and loved it as well.

“In 1953, while working as a taxi driver, Tramiel bought a shop in the Bronx to repair office machinery, securing a $25,000 loan for the business from a U.S. Army entitlement. He named it Commodore Portable Typewriter.” – Wikipedia

For more info: wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Tramiel

Atari Video Music

I have been secretly putting together a music video set up. Tungsten softboxes, key & fill lights, iPhone tripod mount, Final Cut X and weird outfits are being collected. Naturally as with my music I need whatever video I create to look like it was from a few decades back. Therefore I have been searching for video synthesizers. I thought I’d share this Atari Video Music unit with you today. You can find these on eBay still. Interesting no?

“It was 1975 and Bob Brown (originator of home Pong) was looking for another consumer (home) product to design. Mega stereo systems (multi-component setups that were usually designed with a mixture of futuristic metal and rec room woodgrain) were all the rage. Bob decided to make another component that would take advantage of Atari’s video display technology and act as a bridge between the television set and the stereo system. The result was the Atari Video Music, which Atari released on it’s own in 1976.” – atarihq.com

For more info: atarihq.com/dedicated/videomusic.php

The Early Days of Software Sequencers

KVR Audio has an interesting article from Chris Halaby where takes us back and shows us the very early days of software sequencers. The story is written from his point of view and I am sure the German companies would slant things differently. I also think Atari’s were rock solid and I never knew anyone who needed to keep a spare around. That said, it’s a great read and I appreciate some of the new info there. Check it out: click here

“Dave’s idea was to use the Mac to replace the dedicated hardware that people like me were using in recording sessions. In November of 1984, he bought a Macintosh, and after learning to program in a GUI environment, wrote the first version of ‘Sequencer’ (a software version of the aforementioned box) in six months. I loaned him my DSX for a couple of weeks so he could make sure that his software would be able to everything the DSX could do. In order to connect to the Mac he designed a simple MIDI interface that could be connected to the printer and modem ports (RS-422) and in a stroke of brilliance made the package narrow enough so that one could screw two separate interfaces to the ports on back of their Mac and get a total of 32 MIDI channels.” – Chris Halaby

Read: The Early Days of Software Sequencers

photo credit: Marco Raaphorst

The Blip Festival set to make noise in Brooklyn.


Blip Festival 2008: The Promo from Richard Alexander Caraballo on Vimeo.

Jenn de la Vega from The Blip Festival sent me an email today asking if I would mind mentioning the bit-crushed bleep fest returning to Brooklyn later this year. I love this stuff and will be in NY this December so I will be there with my Joystick. Uh yeah… I said that.

Archaic game and home computer hardware is recast into the unlikely role of musical instrument and motion graphics workstation in the BLIP FESTIVAL 2008, a four-day event showcasing nearly 40 musicians and visual artists occupying the international low-res cutting edge. The Blip Festival takes place DECEMBER 4—7, 2008 at the Bell House, and is presented by Manhattan art organization THE TANK and NYC artist collective 8BITPEOPLES.

Highlighting the chipmusic phenomenon and its related disciplines, the festival aims to showcase emerging creative niches involving the use of legacy video game & home computer hardware as modern artistic instrumentation. Devices such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Nintendo Game Boy and others are repurposed into the service of original, low-res, high-impact electronic music and visuals — sidestepping game culture and instead exploring the technology’s untapped potential and distinctive intrinsic character.

The Blip Festival assembles nearly 40 practitioners selected from the chipmusic movement’s expansive global underground, taking care to represent as many as possible of the genre’s surprisingly diverse styles, geographical and technical scenes, communities, and traditions. The festival’s concert program will be supplemented by daytime events to be announced, including workshops, presentations, and screenings. The Blip Festival’s intended result is to provide a cross-section of a movement currently in explosive flux, teeming with artistic exploration, and poised at the cusp of global awareness.

For more info: http://blipfestival.org/