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1401 Music, Sounds, and Movies

Dear Friends,
I have no clue how to "organize" this web page -
- suggestions cheerfully accepted - Ed Thelen ed@ed-thelen.org

Table of Contents

a summery/introduction of ... - added April 27, 2013
p.s. For those who haven't heard this yet, Jˇhann is collaborating with the American film-maker Bill Morrison to create a musical and visual homage to the vintage 1401 (era), featuring an expanded version of his 1401 symphony and even plans for a quartet to tour the US & Europe. Here is a five-minute promotional trailer for the project, filmed at in our CHM 1401 restoration lab in December, featuring Jˇhann, Bill, and myself: http://vimeo.com/57378793

Jˇhann Jˇhannsson's "IBM 1401: A User's Manual" is the only human-composed and performed symphony I know of whose theme is a computer. Its four movements are labeled "1401, 1403, 1402, and 729": http://www.ausersmanual.org/

In a 2007 interview on NPR's The World... NPR interview with Jˇhann Jˇhannsson
... Jˇhann described the piece as a homage to his father, Jˇhann Gunnarsson, IBM's CE for Iceland's first computer, a 1401. At its decommissioning and farewell ceremony in 1971, Jˇhann's father had recorded Icelandic symphonic music using the 1401 AM radio program (which we having runing on our 1401s), the sound of five notes of which Johann overlays in the piece, along with the recorded monologue voice from an instructional maintenance tape for an IBM 421 Tabulator. In interviews, Johann expresses his feelings about his composition: " It's about this nostalgia for old machines, this a sort of tecno-nostolgia in a way, and also a kind of respect for the ancient. If a piece of technology has become redundant, it doesn't necessarily loose its worth."

The symphony is available on Amazon and iTunes:
IBM 1401: A User's Manual symphony on Amazon

compelling five-minute promotional trailer - from Robert Garner, added April 6, 2013
1401ers,

As many of you know, the avant-garde Icelandic composer Jˇhann Jˇhannsson created a symphony dedicated to the 1401 in 2005, called "IBM 1401: A User's Manual." It's the only computer-dedicated symphony I know of written by a human and played by humans.*

Jˇhann is now collaborating with the renowned American film-maker Bill Morrison to create a musical and visual homage to the vintage 1401, featuring an expanded version of his symphony.

Here is a compelling five-minute promotional trailer for the project, filmed at in our CHM 1401 restoration lab in December, featuring Jˇhann, Bill, and myself: http://vimeo.com/57378793

Enjoy,

- Robert

* http://www.ausersmanual.org/
Its four movements are labeled "1401, 1403, 1402, and 729". In a 2007 interview on NPR's The World, Johann described the piece as a homage to his father, Jˇhann Gunnarsson, IBM's CE for the 1401 and Iceland's first computer. At the 1401's decommissioning farewell ceremony in 1971, he had recorded some popular Icelandic symphonic music via the 1401 AM radio program (which we having runing on our 1401s), five notes of which Johann used in his composition, along with the recorded voice from an old instructional maintenance tape for an IBM 421 Tabulator. In interviews, Johann expresses his feelings about his composition: " It's about this nostalgia for old machines, this a sort of tecno-nostolgia in a way, and also a kind of respect for the ancient. If a piece of technology has become redundant, it doesn't necessarily loose its worth."
...
Both Johann and his father greatly enjoyed their visits to our operational 1401s.

A "computer music" trailer - added March 2, 2013
from David Metcalfe, Artistic Director, dm@forma.org.uk
... By the way, if you want to add a link on the CHM site link to the trailer video we made, you can using this link: http://vimeo.com/57378793

Stan's videos and sounds from Stan Paddock
added July 14, 2011,
  • Bob Erickson demonstrating how to reproduce IBM punched cards using an IBM 513 reproducing punch. The video was shot, edited and published by Stan Paddock. The video was shot in the 1401 restoration room in the Computer History Museum.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTrqtd8bR30
  • Stan Paddock doing his adlib presentation of "Data processing in the 1960's". The video was shot by Ron Williams. It was edited and published by Stan Paddock. The video was shot in the 1401 restoration room in the Computer History Museum.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b48uiLsF19s
  • The 1401 restoration group at the Computer History Museum received word there was a company in Conroe Texas that was still using an IBM 402 for their everyday business. We contacted the company, Sparkler Filters, and were invited down to visit. Ron Crane, Ed Thelen, Frank King and Stan Paddock went to Conroe Texas in June of 2010. This video is of that trip.
    The video was shot, edited and published by Stan Paddock, shot on location at Sparkler Filters, Conroe Texas.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iceB7rzlZm0

www.paddockdrayage.com/OneAtATime/IBM1401backinoperation-sorta.wmv an undated happy day -



- collection by Stan Paddock June 2010

Notes from Iceland - from Johann - Jan 30, 2011
The composer you mention was not my grandfather. He was Sigvaldi S. Kaldalons, the grandfather of my friend and coauthor of the 1401 obituary, Írn Kaldalons. He started his career as a country doctor in a remote northwestern corner of Iceland, where now nobody lives. You can browse the environment here:
http://www.panoramio.com/photo/212365
Here is a small piece of information about him, from a small museum concerning this particular part of the country:
http://www.snjafjallasetur.is/kaldalon/english.html

The composition from which our five note theme was taken, Island Ogrum Skorid, is a very popular patriotic song, valued, I think I can say, next to the National Anthem:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-NU_as5ml8

Kaldalons also composet an Ave Maria, quite a lovely piece:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlCauIrNxF0

Hamraborgin is a favorite of every tenor in this country:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLUkjaDXQ1U

You may find more of his works on Youtube. Hope you enjoy these samples.

Regards,
Jˇhann


1401 RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) "music" from Iceland - probably RIAA free ;-))
1401 Music - 3.3 MegaBytes at the Decommissioning & Farewell Ceremony of Iceland's first IBM 1401. Recorded by Johann Gunnarsson, et al.., March 12, 1971 at Klapparstigur 25 - 27 in Reykjavik, at the IBM Service Bureau. This was the last day of operation for a 1401 system in Iceland. We only had 2 of them altogether. (Other than later with the U.S. Navy)

Following posted with permission from Jˇhann Gunnarsson < johg@centrum.is >

A modern composition and choreography by Icelandic composer Jˇhann Jˇhannsson in honor of the decommissioning of an IBM 1401 in 1971, as recorded by his father.

Jˇhann Jˇhannsson's NPR "The World" interview:

NPR interview with Jˇhann Jˇhannsson, & also sounds from the 1401 lab from Robert Garner
Here's Marc Weman of "The World" (on here in Bay Area from 2 - 3 pm) 2007 NPR interview with Jˇhann Jˇhannsson on his IBM 1401: A Users Manual. - 3.3 megaBytes

Robert Garner has been taking some movies and sounds of the 1401 area
Sounds - .mp3 files about 1 megabyte long

Low resolution movies - getting practice ;-))

IBM 1403, 1402, 729, 026 movies at URL http://homepage.mac.com/robgarn/iMovieTheater8.html
(Click on the top line of the black screen, all four movies will down load, then play in sequence.)
local test of 'IBM 1403, 1402, 729, 026 Sounds' of http://homepage.mac.com/robgarn/.Movies/IBM1401SystemSounds.mov

Miscellaneous
IBM 1403, 1402, 729, 026 movies

"Music" from a 1403 printer under control of a 1401 from Ron Mak - .mp3 files
- (about 0.4 to 2.5 megabytes each) - shortest to longest - Performance rights not worked out with ASCAP :-|
- All below known to work with Windows Media Player, one person reported that Nero Media Player did not work for them.

1401 RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) "music" "our" 1401 - probably *NOT* RIAA free ;-))

Michael Mahon writes
Ed,

Many early (handbuilt) computers, like SEAC, SWAC and others built in the late 1940's [delivered in 1950] were built with an audio amplifier and speaker connected to some logic level in the machine--a popular spot was the low bit of the accumulator. If the machine was not designed with a speaker, engineers or students often added them later.

The purpose was to provide audio feedback to the operator or programmer of the behavior of the running program.

I personally found that one quickly became familiar with the audio "rendition" of a program, and could easily recognize the characteristics of different parts of a program, and detect when any abnormality developed--for example, loops were obvious. ;-)

Later it was noticed that most machines in the low megahertz clock range radiated significant RF noise that an AM radio could pick up and render as audio if placed near the console or other high speed circuits.

Many programmers (including myself!) then proceeded to write a program with loops of varying repetition rates to allow the playing of reedy single-voice music over the radio.

By coincidence, I've spent a fair amount of time developing techniques for playing sounds and music on early micros, and the Apple II in particular.

I really enjoy your website!

-Michael Mahon
Computer History Museum member


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