Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Early Computer Music

An article from the BBC reports on the oldest recording of computer music, played by a commercial version of the Manchester Mark I computer (read a more technical article here, which includes links to articles about the 50th anniversary and construction of a working replica).

The vintage BBC video of the original "baby" machine in 1948 is priceless!

I love that the program to check if 2127 - 1 (a Mersenne number) is a prime number (it is, as first proved in 1876) took 25 minutes to run.

I also like the image of a computer program written in machine language. That brings back some memories! And a question: Does The Thomas still have a MISTIC simulator? If so, I have a program for it ... somewhere.

There is another anniversary story from the BBC, on 20 June, that has some additional information and another photo of the computer. I had forgotten that it had 128 bytes of memory. (That is not a misprint: 128 bytes, not 128 kilobytes like the earliest PC had. That factor of 1000, actually 1024 if you want to be picky, really limits what you can do when writing a program.)

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