Commodore 64 SID-Style Chiptune Music On A Texas Instruments TI-82 Calculator

Sunday Synth Jam: This video, via Tubesockor, demonstrates how you can make a chiptune jam on an old calculator without a sound chip.

Here’s what he has to say about it:

“This is a TI-82 remake of the Commodore 64 soundtrack for the game Warhawk, originally composed by Rob Hubbard in 1986. It is programmed down to the deepest details on a Texas Instruments TI-82 graphing calculator (from 1993) using the tracker software HoustonTracker 2.

The video starts with a tech dive into how sound is generated on Commodore 64 and the TI calculator, as well as 1-bit audio in general. Then the song appears, including a custom-written visualizer to make the insides of the tracker come to life.”

HousetonTracker is a music editor/sequencer for the Texas Instruments TI-82, TI-83/82STATS, and TI-83+/84+/SE. It lets you compose and play multi-channel 1-bit music directly on your TI graphic calculator. HoustonTracker 2 is available as a free (donationware) download.

Topics covered:

0:00 Welcome
0:20 Commodore 64 & SID
0:58 Texas Instruments TI-82
1:27 1-bit audio on TI-82
2:04 Pulse Interleaving
2:57 HoustonTracker 2 overview
3:47 Warhawk background
4:08 HoustonTracker 2 startup on TI-82
5:58 Warhawk performed on TI-82

4 thoughts on “Commodore 64 SID-Style Chiptune Music On A Texas Instruments TI-82 Calculator

  1. Oh man, I wish I had HoustonTraker when I was back in high school with a TI-82. At least I had FastTrackerII on the family IBM AT!

  2. This has to be the worst music making interface. I can’t imagine how tedious it must be to try and program this on a calculator. Do you think he made it in a tracker on the computer and then imported it, or do you think that he made it on the calculator. Great song, great sound, but I can’t think of an interface more distantly removed from the act of making music with instruments.

    1. Hi! I can explain what I did 🙂 100% of it done on the physical calculator, no computer involved. Except for the two drum samples that I mention in the video which was sampled and converted to 1-bit binary data. Ending up in about 1200 numbers that was then entered manually into the calculator. And yes, very tedious! But fun 😀

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