February 4, 2003 8:19 PM   Subscribe

The IBM 1403 Printer (1964) playing music. This may change your life.
posted by the fire you left me (23 comments total)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:26 PM on February 4, 2003

Hey, PDP-1 music! Sounds from the world's "first" minicomputer.

I'm ashamed to admit that the Passacaglia recording was what really turned me on to Bach.
posted by tss at 8:40 PM on February 4, 2003

you people are really lowering the meta-bar here......
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:43 PM on February 4, 2003

Who else can only see Paul Newman being chased by a big printer instead of a bull now?

Thanks a lot, fire.

great post
posted by lazaruslong at 8:50 PM on February 4, 2003

that rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is blazing. I want one!
posted by eddydamascene at 8:56 PM on February 4, 2003

I'd like the see the printed result of playing these tunes. The underlying drone of what I assume to be the paper feed makes the tunes reminicient of bag pipe music to me.
posted by adamt at 9:03 PM on February 4, 2003

While we're at it, the RCA Mark II synthesizer. Effort spent trying to play the weird mpeg audio file is worth it, IMHO. Or there's this recording (can't listen, don't have Real, but it's 12-tone music so no great loss). Here's something equally unlistenable. Finally, here's the first link, cleaned up a bit...

Early music synthesis is k-rad. OK, enough derail...
posted by tss at 9:22 PM on February 4, 2003

How about a symphony of printers?
posted by Diddly at 9:29 PM on February 4, 2003

Oh my god that was amazing. wonderful post.
posted by ac at 9:31 PM on February 4, 2003

Bah! My Commodore 64 could do this with it's 1541 floppy disk drive. You can listen for yourself here.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:38 PM on February 4, 2003

I'm enjoying all the links - thanks fire & co.
posted by snez at 9:42 PM on February 4, 2003

Banks of hard drives, acting as speakers. Complete with videos of the 3-drive action.
posted by nicething at 9:49 PM on February 4, 2003

Reminds me of the days when my best friend in high school would play Pink Floyd basslines on his Chevette's ailing power-steering system.
posted by Vidiot at 10:29 PM on February 4, 2003

Reminds me of the brilliant Epson E-card by Carbonated jazz - creating bouncy holiday music from Printer sounds
posted by cinderful at 11:04 PM on February 4, 2003

This is the coolest, dorkiest thing ever.

Consider my life changed.
posted by hippugeek at 11:40 PM on February 4, 2003

Fab post and follow-up. Thanks everyone.
posted by Dick Paris at 3:40 AM on February 5, 2003

That was really, really cool.

For some reason I am reminded of these plastic strips I had once - they looked almost like the rings you peel off from around a milk bottle cap, and they had strange ridges pressed into them.

When you ran your thumbnail along the ridges quickly, holding the strip taut with your other hand, it would speak a phrase. It was freaky cool. Ohhh, a link to the Talking Ribbons!

Thanks for that link, fire. I really enjoyed that.
posted by wells at 6:26 AM on February 5, 2003

is good.
wells - these talking ribbons, they vibrate?
posted by asok at 7:17 AM on February 5, 2003

Uh-oh. There goes the first part of my morning. Very cool!n
posted by carter at 7:18 AM on February 5, 2003

My brother, who has fixed many a 1403 (Model N1s) for IBM, says "It seems to me I heard of a computer system playing the Star Spangled Banner in 4-part harmony while a picture of a flag was printed out on the printer."

Urban legend? True? Sounds like something quonsar would mention, if so.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:39 AM on February 5, 2003

Sometimes when it is very quiet in my office, I swear I can hear the computers singing to themselves.....

(neat link, I wish the museum itself had an actual live demo of this)
posted by briank at 1:39 PM on February 5, 2003

I guess the Talking Ribbons are like mini vinyl records, really, except in one long strip instead of in a disc shape.

Your thumbnail is the needle, and the resulting 'voice' is the vibrations from running it along the strip.
posted by wells at 1:46 PM on February 5, 2003

I was reminiscing about this at random, the other day. I'm sure I saw a tv programme about printers doing this, once upon a time. That urban legend sounds similar (at a stretch) to something aphex twin was playing around with.
posted by walrus at 1:46 PM on February 5, 2003

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