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AT&T Archives: Incredible Machine


1960 | Ordenador | PIERCE
Personaje: PIERCE, John Robinson.

Fecha del vídeo: 1968.

This interesting short detailing advancements in computer/digital technology, featuring the 'Graphic 1' computer system at Bell Telephone Laboratories.

Includes scenes of:
*Digital musical composition
*Electronic circuit design utilising a digital pen
*Digital movie production
*3D simulation of orbiting satellite
*Conversion of pictures to mosaics composed of tiny images
*Digital voice modulation

The Bell Labs 'Graphic 1' computer system consisted of a Digital Equipment Corporation 'PDP-5' computer coupled with input devices such as the 'Type 370' light pen and Teletype Corporation 'Teletype Model 33' keyboard, married to a Digital Equipment Corporation 'Type 340' precision incremental display backed by 36-bit Ampex 'RVQ' buffer memory capable of storing 4096 'words'. The resolution on the monitor was 1024×1024.

This system was designed to transform the graphics-based input into output to be fed into a IBM '7094' (200 Kflop/s). The entire thing was attached to a microfilm-based recorder - the Stromberg Carlson 'SC 4020', which took hours to read and record the data.

This 1968 short shows some of the ways that Bell Laboratories scientists used computers in communications research. Contains sequences of computer-generated movies, photographs, music and speech. The entire score and main title and credits of the film were produced on a computer - which seems like nothing today, as every film and video in modern production makes its way through a machine - but at the time this was radically early for computer graphics and music.

Bell Labs was responsible for a few computer graphics and music firsts:
*1961: computer performs "Daisy Bell" with music programmed by Max Mathews and speech programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum.
*1962: The first digital computer art was created at Bell Labs by A. Michael Noll.
*1963: The first computer animated film was produced by Edward Zajac at Bell Labs.
*1963: The first computer animation language, BEFLIX, was created by Ken Knowlton.
*1966: first ASCII art was created by Ken Knowlton.

These scientist/artists worked on IBM 704 and 7094 computers:
*IBM 704: The computer these artists and scientists originally worked on in the 1960s had 192K of RAM, 6mb of memory on tape, cost $200 an hour to use and filled a whole room.
*IBM 7094: The earliest computer-generated films, created using an IBM 7094 computer and Stromberg-Carlson 4020 microfilm recorder, cost approximately $500 per minute of output. The 709-series computers were transistorized, and a typical 7094 sold for $3,134,500 in the 1960s.

This film won the CINE Golden Eagle and is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

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