Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Muzix81 Computer Music System From Socialist Hungary

Muzix Greg Lőrincz writes, "Here's everything I could find out about the most advanced computer based sequencer / sampler / audio processor / audio interface from the early 80s (OK, the CMI Fairlight and PPG Wave were more advanced, but Muzix81 cost a fraction as much).

In 1981, Hungarian musician and physicist Andras Szalay visited Sinclair in Cambridge where he bought a Sinclair ZX81 kit and built a computer at home. He designed an interface called the Composer, the first part of the powerful Muzix81 system, in 1982.

The Composer was a pre-MIDI sequencer software with a dedicated hardware interface for synthesizers and drum-machines. It used control-voltage. The interface featured two CV outputs and two inputs for both the Roland and Yamaha implementations (in other words, any synthesizer could be connected to the interface, be it Moog, Arp, Korg, Roland, etc.) The Composer software enabled the user to record, edit and play sequences. The sequences could be arranged into a song. A cassette recorder attached to the interface stored the songs or sequences. The Composer software could also randomly delay certain notes to add swing/shuffle/humanize to the sequence.

Another piece of software called Drummer was aimed at users with drum-machines. As I understand, the notes were represented as numbers and letters. Swell.

Muzix81 in action Later Szalay and his brother, Sandor (Alex) designed a digital audio interface / effect processor / sampler (1982!) for the ZX81 called Audio Processor. The interface used a 37 kHz sampling rate and was a standalone effects processor with delay, reverb and pitch-shift. Patches were stored on cassette. With the Simulator program, the interface enabled the musician to record sound on the ZX81 (Digidesign, the manufacturer of Pro Tools systems came up with a similar system at the end of 80s). Also, connecting a keyboard to the CV inputs of the interface enabled the user to play recorded sounds (in 1982!). Simulator featured autolooping, graphical representation of the samples and tuning.

Musical hacking, circa 1982 Simulator later evolved into MultiSim, which could assign 1-6 samples to any keys of the keyboard. DigiSynt, another program written for ZX81 could generate waveforms and samples with Fourier-components.... Frikkin mental.

The Szalays rewrote the existing software and designed new programs for ZX Spectrum. The new note- and drum-sequencer apps used MIDI. The most interesting piece was called Notewriter which converted audio signals to MIDI... In other words, you could simply plug a mic to the interface, play an instrument (or simple plug a synthesizer into the input) and the program decoded the notes. It did not work well with guitar and piano but could handle vocals.

Keep in mind that this system was way more sophisticated than the Emulator or the Ensoniq Mirage and the price was a fraction of any sampler at the time. Also, it was designed and manufactured behind the iron curtain. No Moogs, Rolands, Emus, we’re talking about a socialist country where ‘western’ music, computers, synthesizers, drum-machines and samplers were available only for a chosen few (very, very few actually).

p.r.computer The system was manufactured in Debrecen, Hungary and units were sold in Germany and the UK. The Szalays met the producer of Boney M who was enthusiastic about the system and wanted to work with them. For unknown reasons, the plan feel through. From 1983 to 1985, the Muzix81 was presented at Musikmesse in Frankfurt and about 300 were made. Alex Szalay is now a lecturer at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

The Szalay brothers played in a successful folk/ethno/prog-rock band called Pantha Rhei, influenced by King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The album ‘P.R. Computer’ was produced using the Muzix81 system and sold an impressive 80,000 copies [free mp3 download]."


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