The Future Of MIDI Music – In 1986!


This episode of The Computer Chronicles, from 1986, is just about the best thing ever.

Not only does it explain how to “Get Funky With MIDI”, but it’s sponsored by Leading Edge, where you can get Hayes-compatible 1200 baud modems.

The show is 30 minutes long and takes a fairly deep look at technology which, at least in 1986, was cutting edge.

Give it a view and let me know what you think! And let me know if you’ve used any of these systems!

Guests: Chris French, Music Software; Bob Moore, Hybrid Arts; David Schwartz, Compusonics; Chris Potter, Mimetics; Curtis Sasaki, Apple; Gary Kildall, Digital Research; Gary Leuenberger, Midi Revolution Products/Demos: Casio SK-1 Synthesizer, Atari ST, Activision’s Music Studio, ADAP Sampler, DSP-1000, Apple II GS, Ensoniq Sound Chip, Soundscape, Commodore AmigaEZ Track, Kidnotes.

via FailedMusic, Logan 5

27 thoughts on “The Future Of MIDI Music – In 1986!

  1. still…it would have been nice to hear his rendition of Axel F without Stewart cutting him off so quickly….well done peace of nostalgia, though and thx to the uploader of the vid…btw, Casio SK-1 still rocks!

  2. I think this is a marvelous post. Also take good note of some of the comments there; one of their computers had an internal memory of 8Mb (we now usually have 4Gb, often even 8 (a factor 1000 more)) and yet it provided software which could do sampling and some (minor) synthesis..

    It may look old fashioned but I dare say that those guys were in general better programmers than the ones we now have. Simply because at that time you had to carefully think and plot what routines to use and most of all; how to make sure that everything would fit in. Whereas now you simply start writing and the last thing you need to worry about is the room which the program itself occupies. Nowadays those are mere details which are left to be handled by the OS itself (like swapping and such).

    What also struck me is that in general there isn't much changed. Take Live for example.. Sure; it can do /more/. But the essence is still the same.. I send in midi, I send out midi and I can sample either small samples to use and mangle or simply record entire songs.

    Sure; now we have USB, memory sticks, etc. to work with. But at the bottom its still the same thing.

  3. yeh alot of oldtimers still use Atari ST computers for MIDI sequencing, because the overhead is so very low, there is practically zero jitter… in other words, it sounds "tighter"

  4. Computer Chronicles was a great show, especially with Gary Kildall. You can't produce such a show nowadays with all the news sites, blogs and what not, which is kind of sad.

  5. It is a law of the computer hardware market:
    Every time machines become powerful enough to play video, someone adds a layer or changes the implementation to make them 3-10 times slower and resource-hungry.

    We're now editing text through a network of Java-controlled plugins, and playing video through Javascript interpreter in a Flash plugin to the webpage viewer written in messy C++ using DirectX as a plugin to the mostly-C++ OS.

    It's the only way to make everybody upgrade every 3 years.

  6. They cost less than the computers, but the synths were still expensive. Remember to allow for inflation. Personally I think the hardware is much cheaper now. Everyone is much better off with what is available today.

  7. Funny thing is that demoed computers seems so obsolete, while synths and drum machines look still very cool after 25 years. And you can take them and easily plug them into our todays super power computers – just connect midi + audio cables and play.

  8. CDRW Medium at around $100! (see the Compusonics part of the video) Amazing how the prices can drop. I still remember upgrading a Quadra 950 with 16MB of RAM for over $500. This is a great little video find. I remember watching this program when I live in SV.

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