Max Mathews, often called the father of computer music, died on Thursday in San Francisco.
Mr. Mathews wrote the first program to make it possible for a computer to synthesize sound and play it back. He also developed several generations of computer-music software and electronic instruments and devices.
He was an engineer at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., in 1957 when he wrote the first version of Music, a program that allowed an IBM 704 mainframe computer to play a 17-second composition of his own devising.
Because computers at the time were so slow, it would have taken an hour to synthesize the piece, so it had to be transferred to tape and then speeded up to the proper tempo. But the experiment proved that sound could be digitized, stored and retrieved.
“The timbres and notes were not inspiring,” Mr. Mathews told a conference on computer music at Indiana University in 1997, “but the technical breakthrough is still reverberating.”
The implications of Mr. Mathews’s early research reached popular audiences through the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” in which the HAL 9000 computer sings “Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two)” as its cognitive functions are dismantled.
The science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke had visited Bell Laboratories in the early 1960s and listened as a vocoder, or voice recorder synthesizer, developed by John L. Kelly, sang “Daisy Bell” to a musical accompaniment programmed by Mr. Mathews. He incorporated the innovation into the novel on which the film was based.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!
Maker Business — Global shipping still hasn’t righted itself
Wearables — Tear it all apart
Electronics — Disable unused channels!
Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: MicroPython 1.16 is out and more! #Python #Adafruit #CircuitPython @micropython @ThePSF
Adafruit IoT Monthly — Toddler Clock, Predictive Weather Station, and more!
Microsoft MakeCode — Arcade Beginner Skillmap
EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey
New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — JP’s Product Pick of the Week — 4pm Eastern TODAY! 6/22/21 @adafruit @johnedgarpark #adafruit #newproductpick
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.