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Photo of Bell Labs
Bell Labs was instrumental in developing computers.

Computers and Music

photograph of a microchip
Microchips are the reason why computers shrank from
room sized machines to devices carried in a pocket.

Although computers do not make their biggest impact on electronic music until the 1980s and beyond, in this decade we see nascent development of computers and music. The first computers did not run in real time, taking hours or days to run their programs. This era ushered in inexpensive digital chips and micro-computers, putting the power of the computer into the hands of the many. As digital chips begin to diffuse through electronic devices, their power is utilized by more people and more electronic artists.
source: Wikipedia


photo of CSIRAC
In 1950 or 1951, CSIRAC was used to play music,
the first known use of a digital computer for the purpose.

CSIRAC, the first computer to play music, did so publicly in August 1951. One of the first large-scale public demonstrations of computer music was a pre-recorded national radio broadcast on the NBC radio network program Monitor on February 10, 1962. In 1961, LaFarr Stuart programmed Iowa State University's CYCLONE computer (a derivative of the Illiac) to play simple, recognizable tunes through an amplified speaker that had been attached to the system originally for administrative and diagnostic purposes. An interview with Mr. Stuart accompanied his computer music.
source: Wikipedia

Language of Sound

photo of max matthews
Max Mathews

The late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s also saw the development of large mainframe computer synthesis. Starting in 1957, Max Mathews of Bell Labs developed the MUSIC programs, culminating in MUSIC V, a direct digital synthesis language (Mattis 2001).
source: Wikipedia

The Electric Americans

In America, live electronics were pioneered in the early 1960s by members of Milton Cohen's Space Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan, including Gordon Mumma and Robert Ashley, by individuals such as David Tudor around 1965, and The Sonic Arts Union, founded in 1966 by Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, and David Behrman. ONCE Festivals, featuring multimedia theater music, were organized by Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma in Ann Arbor between 1958 and 1969. In 1960, John Cage composed Cartridge Music, one of the earliest live-electronic works.
source: Wikipedia

Birth of the Moog

photo of moog synthesizer
The 1st commercial Moog synthesizer (Stearns 2035)
commissioned by the Alwin Nikolai Dance Theater of NY in 1964.
Now it is part of Stearns Collection, University of Michigan.
Posted by twitter.com/AngryChad

During the 1960s, the evolution of electronic musical instruments continues, most notably in 1964 when Robert Moog introduced the Moog Synthesizer. It will be later, when the Minimoog is introduced, that Moog's device makes its greatest impact on electronic music.
source: Wikipedia