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Early Computer Music Experiments in Australia and England

  • Paul Doornbusch (a1)
Abstract

This article documents the early experiments in both Australia and England to make a computer play music. The experiments in England with the Ferranti Mark 1 and the Pilot ACE (practically undocumented at the writing of this article) and those in Australia with CSIRAC (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Automatic Computer) are the oldest known examples of using a computer to play music. Significantly, they occurred some six years before the experiments at Bell Labs in the USA. Furthermore, the computers played music in real time. These developments were important, and despite not directly leading to later highly significant developments such as those at Bell Labs under the direction of Max Mathews, these forward-thinking developments in England and Australia show a history of computing machines being used musically since the earliest development of those machines. 1

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Email: pdoornbusch@collarts.edu.au
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1

The definition of a computer here means an all-electronic calculating machine with memory for the data and program; sometimes called a stored-program machine. This definition is expanded upon later, but the Manchester Small Scale Experimental Machine (Baby) from mid-1948 is generally considered to be the first such machine. There were several electronic and electromechanical programmable calculators in the 1940s (e.g. Colossus, the Zeus machines and the original ENIAC), which do not quite make the definition.

Footnotes
References
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Organised Sound
  • ISSN: 1355-7718
  • EISSN: 1469-8153
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