I was 13 years old when this episode of The Computer Chronicles aired. This means I was logging onto BBS’s and CompuServe with my TRS-80 Color Computer. $9.99 of a floppy disk with a low res christmas card on it!
“The Computer Chronicles was an American television series, broadcast during 1981-2002 on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) public television, which documented the rise of the personal computer from its infancy to the immense market at the turn of the 21st century.” – wikipedia.org
Mini Organs are Japanese collectables that come in a wide variety. Check on eBay and you will find often they sell for $200+. I really like this detuned turntable guy the Panasonic SG-123. Honestly I almost can’t believe so much of this weird stuff ever existed.
“Simply great! Listen to your own favourites and play to them. A masterpiece of a time where mothers were happy and children were creative!” – miniorgan.com
In my continual effort to make my music studio into an 80’s time machine I picked up a Boss DM-100 bucket-brigade analog delay and chorus. Similar vintage units have been used on vocals by the Stray Cats and Richard 23 of Front 242. You could spend a lot more on new tape delay pedals such as the Moog 104Z but they aren’t as noisy and sleezy. In fact, a quick forum search on the DM-100 shows this unit is quite coveted. I like that the DM-100 has the input and outputs on the front which will make it quick to get drum machines and iPads through it and back into Ableton. If your not familiar with this type of device watch the video above at 20 seconds in to be impressed. If you want to stay in the box check out Audio Damage’s DubStation or Fabfilter’s Timeless plug-ins.
“The DM-100 uses is together with the compact DM-2 Boss’s first BBD based delay. The DM-100 is also making use of the Roland FCF (Frequency Controlled Filter) to produce its delay sound. The FCF gradually rolls of higher frequencies as the delay time increases. With the mode switch the user can choose whether to use the Delay Machine as a delay or chorus. The intensity of the chorus is adjusted with a control on the back and the effect can be turned on or off with a footswitch (not supplied with the DM-100).” – bossarea.com
I really want one of these vintage Telefunken Echomixers. I’m not sure they are worth Sonic Circus’s price of $2650. It’s definitely a piece you want if your building a musical time machine. What a sweet distortion and spring reverb from Germany.
“Telefunken Echomixer, a great vintage piece form 1960 years with old discrete comoponents (old transistors, no tubes) It is a Mixer + an amazing spring reverberator. the first A channel is dry, and on B and C you can select the spring reverb amount between the two lower sliders. Great unit for a unique sound and collector.” – soniccircus.com
Here’s some samples and photos from my latest eBay splurge. There’s something special about a vintage drum machine. I can’t place what it is but the sound and groove is just “it”. The recorded waveforms have more valleys and peaks than ITB synthesized drums. Panning seems wider. This Yamaha RX11 from the early 80s is really large, heavy and built like a tank. Pure joy for $50.
“The RX11 was one of Yamaha’s early drum machines (maybe even their first?) and as you can see from the panel cosmetics, it comes from the same era as their DX synths. At the time, it was a marvel – a (relatively) low-cost programmable drum machine with 29 ‘real’ drum samples and no less than 12 individual audio outputs.” – hollowsun.com/vintage/rx11/
A full room of oscillators and vintage tape machines on your Mac for less than $20. My favorite example of electronic music from the early days is the soundtrack to the movie Forbidden Planet (Amazon link).
“Between the 1950s and the mid 1960s, long before Robert Moog and Wendy Carlos injected electronics into pop-music (with a few exceptions like the Barrons and Raymond Scott), electroacoustic music was pioneered by european radio laboratories and US universities. Composing with tapes and electronics was a serious painstaking and expensive affair, prerogative of a restricted elite of contemporary music composers and adventurous sound engineers…. Berna is a software simulation of a late 1950s electroacoustic music studio. Oscillators, filters, modulators, tape recorders, mixers, are all packed in a easy-to-use interface with historical accuracy.” – gleetchplug.com
My first computer was a TRS-80 CoCo. Short for Color Computer the CoCo had a Motorola 6508e microprocessor. The 6508e was in some ways the predecessor to the 68000 which found it’s way into the original Mac and Atari ST machines. I had my CoCo hooked up to a television and I wrote a few small programs using Basic. I remember I created my own address book that would randomly pick a friend to call. I still have some of the old cassettes to which my programs are saved. I can barely make out the handwriting on the tapes scribbled in my thirteen year old handwriting. I frequented a local TRS-80 user group run by a guy named Larry Bank who I believe today works at IBM. We would trade games like “Donkey King“.
Believe it or not I was going online way back then. There was a local BBS called Mnematics Videotext I use to log into. To be honest I can’t remember what I even was discussing or downloading. Whatever it was it could not have been all that thrilling because in the early 80s download speeds were at about 300 baud. A slow stream of text would jump out of multi-colored cursor across a bright green screen. I have fond memories of my TRS-80 with the exception of his chicklet style keyboard which was universally panned as being cheap. I think it’s pretty funny the new Mac Laptops have a similar keyboard but no one has made a reference to the old CoCo.
My flashback was all triggered by some photos uploaded today on flickr by rach_thegoat. Apparently her parents gave her some old CoCos. Included in the happy gift was a Cartridge for something called “Stereo Music Synthesizer”. I never owned that Cart and I sure am jealous! Her photos are set to “All Rights Reserved” so I won’t post them here but you can take a look at her score here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rach_thegoat/sets/72157610837576228/