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IBM 1401, A User's Manual
February 26, 2007 5:21 PM   Subscribe

"In 1964, a computer - the IBM 1401 Data Processing System - arrived in Iceland, one of the very first computers to be imported into the country… The chief maintenance engineer for this machine was Jóhann Gunnarsson, my father. A keen musician, he learned of an obscure method of making music on this computer - a purpose for which this business machine was not at all designed… When the IBM 1401 was taken out of service in 1971, it wasn't simply thrown away like an old refrigerator, but was given a little farewell ceremony, almost a funeral, when its melodies were played for one last time. This "performance" was documented on tape along with recordings of the sound of the machine in operation." The whole story with samples, pictures and video at Jóhann Jóhannsson's site. [via]
posted by tellurian (15 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, tellurian. This is great. Thanks for the link. I love this record--this site makes me enjoy it even more. One of the pitfalls of emusic is that you don't always know stuff like this exists.
posted by kenneth at 5:44 PM on February 26, 2007


Gunnar Someonesson -> Jóhann Gunnarsson -> Jóhann Jóhannsson

Do they still do the last name from father's first name in Iceland? If so, by naming your son the same as you, aren't you setting up a potentially dangerous infinite loop?
posted by Meatbomb at 5:44 PM on February 26, 2007


Do they still do the last name from father's first name in Iceland?

They do indeed.
-- Maxwelton Meatbombson
P.S. My mom's husband regrets the tips he gave you as our paperboy.
posted by maxwelton at 6:00 PM on February 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I also have this CD :)

Everything that emanates from Iceland is way cool.

The women seem to follow a similar naming rule - every Icelandic woman seems to be called soandso soandsosdottir.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:23 PM on February 26, 2007


Awesome. Thank you.

Icelandic names
posted by motty at 6:49 PM on February 26, 2007


[Bong!]
posted by steef at 6:52 PM on February 26, 2007


Whoa! I was listening to Part II when I saw this post!!
The album's on emusic. Also full-length mp3
posted by pantsrobot at 7:02 PM on February 26, 2007


From motty's link:

Icelandic citizens are not allowed to take their spouses' family names or surnames.

So. Fucking. Cool.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:18 PM on February 26, 2007


"I love this record--this site makes me enjoy it even more."

"I also have this CD :)"

"I was listening to Part II when I saw this post!!"


Typical. I'm always the last to hear about cool stuff.
posted by tellurian at 9:57 PM on February 26, 2007


You probably need to spend more time online.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:21 PM on February 26, 2007


some tidbits:

the album is out on the 4AD label, which for many should automatically denote almost-guaranteed quality.

graphic design is by v23 (formerly 23 envelope) - responsible for the classic 4AD visual (& tactile!) style throughout the 80s & 90s.

the "thanks" section in the liner notes places georges perec alongside charles babbage & alan turing.

(guess who buys cds by their covers?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:35 PM on February 26, 2007


the album is out on the 4AD label, which for many should automatically denote almost-guaranteed quality.

People have really thought this in the last fifteen years?

Mmm, gotta get me some, er, Minotaur Shock... and some, uh, Spirea X... Hope Blister? Cuba? ... Scheer?

Oh, never mind, We're just going to license all the hip music from America, then...
posted by mykescipark at 1:27 AM on February 27, 2007


This makes so much sense, if you've ever listened to much of Johansson's music (which I mean completely as a compliment). I mean, there doesn't seem to be much of a way to pin him down -- he does whatever he thinks he needs to. Guess it runs in the family.

On naming: I gather the "patronymic" naming has started to take an interesting trend as people become less concerned about identifying the father of an illegitimate child -- so you are starting to see more people with "matronymics". E.g., you might meet a guy named 'Ilsasson'.

But then, the guy who told me this could be full of shit. We've got a bunch of Icelanders here, so I'm sure someone will correct me.
posted by lodurr at 9:49 AM on February 27, 2007


Is the recording of the music actually made by the 1401 on the site anywhere?
posted by the jam at 9:57 AM on February 27, 2007


People have really thought this in the last fifteen years?

True. 4AD's heyday is long past.

Mmm, gotta get me some, er, Minotaur Shock... and some, uh, Spirea X

Your point being? Minotaur Shock are actually pretty good. *Chiff-Chaffs & Willow Warblers*, in particular, is a nice album of quirky, glitchy electronica. I'm sure I have some Spirea X here somewhere, too. *Ferrets around in piles of CDs obscuring every flat surface of cubicle*. Never actually realised that they were on 4AD, tho. More power to the label :) *Ferrets further* Hm, Neil Halstead (formerly of Slowdive)...maybe I see what you're getting at...Slowdive being so monumentally great that they surely *must* have been American...
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:53 PM on February 27, 2007


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