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1961 IBM Computer Sings Daisy — Parallax Forums

1961 IBM Computer Sings Daisy

First and best. Kubrick and the rest of us just stood on the shoulders of the Big Blue Giant!


  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230
    edited 2017-08-03 22:56
    Good grief.

    I remember hearing that played on a technology show on BBC radio when I was a kid. We were all mightily impressed.

    That must have been some years after 1961 though. I would have been far to young to be paying attention in '61.

    Recently I was mightily impressed by a demo of a PDP-1 playing Bach at the San Jose Computer Science Museum.

    First done about 1961 I believe.

    Perhaps even more impressive given the limited speed and memory of the PDP-1 compared to the IBM and the programming hoops Peter Sampson had to jump through to get it to work fast enough.
  • How Emic2 like, without investigating any further, it's got to be some correlation there. I guess the whole evolution of text-to-speech.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 23,514
    edited 2017-08-04 00:31
    HAL + 111 = IBM. Coincidence? I think not.

  • Music was also played on the 1949 CSIRAC computer here in Australia.
    It is the only surviving machine of that era and is on display a the Melbourne museum.

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230
    edited 2017-08-04 06:23
    Oh yeah, CSIRAC. That is what I call a computer:,-Melb.-Museum,-12.8.2008.jpg

    Brilliant stuff. Never heard of it before.
  • Heater. wrote: »
    Oh yeah, CSIRAC. That is what I call a computer:,-Melb.-Museum,-12.8.2008.jpg

    Brilliant stuff. Never heard of it before.
    A fabulous beast. A thing of beauty!
    Sadly the kids of today see it as grotesque old junk. :(

  • Cluso99Cluso99 Posts: 18,069
    Nice. I have never seen a valve computer. The first I saw was a Univac 418 with a 1004 Printer. I punched some cards and ran them through the 1004 to print up some sailing results :)
  • I thought I'd share the audio of that, it should be in public domain anyway.
  • In 1967 +- 2, SDS sold a 9300 to replace whatever it was wherever it was (somewhere near Hershey Penn). What I remember most about the machine we replaced was that it used 6L6's as drivers for the core memory.
  • ercoerco Posts: 20,255
    ... it used 6L6's as drivers for the core memory.

    First made in 1936, thr 6L6 remains a great tube in common use and is stillmanufactured today. From :

    The 6L6 has had one of the longest active lifetimes of any electronic component, more than 70 years.

    In that context, the 555 timer is a young buck!

  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2017-08-05 19:23
    I know folks think this is a wonderful thing. But it's hardly the breakthrough people think it is, unless it's put in perspective.

    In the 1930's Bell Labs had already invented the Voder, a keyboard based electronic speech synthesizer. It was played by a human operator and could speak and even sing. That a computer could replicate what a human operator -- and a girl at that! -- was able to press out on a keyboard is hardly earth shattering.

    The real kudos goes to Homer Dudley, who in addition to the Voder, invented to Vocoder, wunderkind of sci-fi movies since (besides cool sound effects, his invention was really intended as a way of cramming a higher quality signal down a low quality pipe). In the the video below they note that the Voder doesn't have commercial application. Obviously they were wrong. And Alexander Bell, everyone's favorite Scotsman, spent his life working on technology to help those with hearing and speech limitations. He would have been quite upset with that sentiment, which in hindsight lacked no foresight at all.

  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 21,230
    I know folks think this is a wonderful thing. But it's hardly the breakthrough people think it is, unless it's put in perspective.
    Oh yes, it's a breakthrough.

    So let's put this into perspective:

    1) The Voder was a bunch of analog circuitry, oscillators, filters etc. With some kind of keyboard input.

    2) To get the Vodor to say anything intelligible required a skilled human operator to provide the input from some weird keyboard.

    I like to think the breakthrough in the IBM speech effort is:

    1) All the analog circuitry is replaced by software. DSP.

    2) The human operator of a keyboard is replaced by software.

    That is a big step.

  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2017-08-06 05:02
    In the modern age early computer programs were stored on punch tape, not unlike the principle of a piano roll. Explain how it's so fundamentally different between a piano being played by a roll (software), and a human. Keyboards are intrinsically binary control devices.

    Though the Voder didn't use a punch tape or cards, it could have been automatically operated by them. That wasn't the aim of the Bell Labs research at the time. There was a notion, stated by some at Bell at the time, that a fully automated system would turn off the public -- today we'd call it Uncanny Valley.

    By its design, the Voder replicated the human vocal tract by electronic means, using principles still in use today. This was the first real work in doing so, the aim of the project, and the award of the patents that followed. The form of the circuitry is plainly irrelevant. In any case, this recording is of Bell Labs technicians using an IBM as part of their research in creating wholly synthesized music and sound.

    It was a fictional movie that popularized the notion that a computer could talk or sing, but machine speech had been demonstrated decades earlier. If you were around in 1939 you might have seen it at the World's Fair where it was demonstrated, or caught it in a theater newsreel. By the 50s and 60s it would would have been old news, and relegated to yellowed newspapers in the library. However, being old news doesn't mean it didn't happen.
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