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Johan Johannsson: IBM1401 A User's Manual
A real oddity, but one of considerable charm. The composer's father was maintenance engineer on Iceland's first computer, an IBM 1401 mainframe, in the mid-1960s, and he learned how to make the computer make music. As part of the computer's decommissioning in 1971 a last recording was made, and that's at the heart of this modern orchestral composition. Check the website for many more stories about this unique music.
Best Listened To While: Helping develop the IBM 1401 emulator software.
Much loved at ZDNet UK Towers, the gentle bearded baron of eight-bit showcases his work from Bletchley Park. Not only does the work include samples of sounds from a variety of vintage hardware, the very structure of the piece includes calculations made on the selfsame kit. Elsewhere, Mr h8 is busy writing music composition software and exploring the boundaries of what you can do with a dead Spectrum and a glint in your eye. Our kind of guy.
Best Listened To While: Fitting a new PP3 to your Sinclair Enterprise calculator.
[The User]: Symphony for Dot Matrix Printers
There's always been a fine line between performance art and music — and in this case, it's precisely one pixel thick. With care, software and good timing, dot matrix printers can pulse their pins fast enough to make a wide variety of nearly musical noises, and they've got natural ribbon...er, rhythm. This is created by a Canadian artists' collective, and it shows.
Best Listened To While: Trying to calm down after finding out how much a new inkjet cartridge will cost.