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First computer-generated music recording found

Pop pickers 1951
Wed Jun 18 2008, 10:50

A RECORDING of the first computer generated music, which was captured by the Beeb in 1951, has been dug out of the archives.

The recordings of Baa Baa Black Sheep and In the Mood, made during a visit to the University of Manchester, are thought to be the oldest known recordings of computer generated music.

The sounds were made by a Ferranti Mark 1 computer, which was a commercial version of the forerunner of all modern computers, the Baby.

Computer music historian Paul Doornbusch told the Beeb he reckons it is the earliest recording of a computer playing music in the world.

The recordings predate those made on an IBM mainframe computer at Bell Labs in the US in 1957. The big blue ones had been thought to be the oldest.

A computer called CSIRAC, in Australia, played Colonel Bogey some months before the Manchester recording but no one stuck the performance on tape.

La Beeb couldn't avoid quoting Chris Burton of the Computer Conversation Society, who said: "Word must have got around that this electronic brain could play music."

The music software was penned by a friend of Alan Turing, Christopher Strachey, who was a maths teacher at nobby school Harrow-on-the Hill at the time. µ



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