Teaching A Vintage Line Printer To Make Music, All Over Again

Sit subsequent to any piece of equipment lengthy sufficient and also you get to are aware of it through the sounds it makes. Think concerning the sounds coming from any Three-D-printer or CNC system; it’s simple to understand with out taking a look when the G code is operating during the sines and cosines had to hint out a circle, for example.

It used to be the similar again within the day, when bored and shiny instrument engineers heard note-like sounds coming from their tools and wrote systems to show them into crude song machines. And now, [Ken Shirriff] main points his efforts to revive a antique IBM 1403 line printer’s musical talents. The large 1960s-era beast is an irreplaceable museum piece now, but if [Ken] and his buddies on the Computer History Museum unearthed stacks of punch playing cards classified with track titles like “Blowin’ In the Wind” and “The Blue Danube Waltz,” they made up our minds to provide it a cross.

The 1403 line printer has a singular chain-drive print head, the internal workings of which [Ken] main points aptly in his publish. Notes are performed through understanding which personality sequences are had to get a specific frequency given the mounted and exactly managed pace of the rotating chain. The method is fairly very similar to that utilized by musical tools similar to the Floppotron, or when coercing song from on a regular basis pieces together with electrical toothbrushes.

Lacking the supply code for the song program, [Ken] needed to opposite engineer the compiled program to know how it really works and to peer if taking part in song would injury the chain pressure. The video beneath presentations the printer safely going via just a little [Debussy]; audio clips of songs at the beginning recorded again in 1970 are to be had too.

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