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Music Media

Symphony For Dot Matrix Printers 171

nico_DNS writes: ""The Symphony for dot matrix printers is a work which transforms obsolete office technology into an instrument for musical performance. The Symphony focuses the listener's attention on a nearly forgotten technology: the dot-matrix printer. Specifically, it employs the noises the printers make as the sole sound source for a musical composition. Leaving the constituent elements untouched, the process imposes a new order upon them, reorganizing the sounds along a musical structure. ""
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Symphony For Dot Matrix Printers

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  • by YASD ( 199639 )

    Yow! Just imagine
    Beowulf cluster of these!
    (Ouch! Karma deathwish.)

  • I wonder if Verese saw this coming? Late at night our local college radio sometimes plays 'music' that includes fax machines, line printers, and anything that can be recorded.

    Since I'm stuck at work w/o the soundcard can anyone verify if this sounds good?
  • We used to play music with our commadore 64 and epson dot matrix... well... more beats and rythms than anything else... you couldn't vary the speed.


  • by matticus ( 93537 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:45AM (#979970) Homepage
    reminds me of the HP Scanjet Easter Egg-

    set scanner to SCSI ID #0
    boot system while holding down Scan button

    you will hear "Ode to Joy" as Beethoven intended it-with the scan motor's whine :)

  • It isn't over until the fat 'matrix sings?

    (Sorry, have a fever, should be sleeping.)
  • heroic spent ribbons winter dance of death out of ink or song? It's not haiku, but I felt like doing it anyway
  • Some one has way too much time and old hardware on their hands? I wonder if version 2.0 will include support for scanners? One of the older HP Scanjets already has an easter egg that will play "Ode to Joy" with the scanner head.

    Wonder what other computer components could be used to make music? Hard disk spinning up/down or acessing, removable media drives, cd-rom trays going in/out, tape drives running, etc... :)
    ---------------------------------------------- ------------------------------

  • It would be even cooler if it used other computer noises... typing, fan noise, HD grinding (fsck), monitor degausing(sp?), ink jet, mouse clicks... on second thought maybe that would just sound like my office...
  • Since I'm stuck at work w/o the soundcard can anyone verify if this sounds good?

    Unfortunately, no. It appears to be Slashdotted.


  • I like 'em. Reminds me a lot of tribal drumming. There are a couple pieces on The Big Bang that are sort of similar.
  • by Snarfangel ( 203258 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:50AM (#979977) Homepage
    I can hardly wait. Now if they would only add a daisy-wheel percussion section, we'd be all set.
  • by toast- ( 72345 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:51AM (#979978)
    Such as a permanent logging facility.

    Send the outputs of /var/log/secure, /var/log/messages, or any of your other favourite logs to the line printer.

    Hard logs. Good securrity. Hackers: Try erasing these puppies. Better bring a lighter!

    Now, Dot Matrix printers to Music would be interesting. They could probably use a few old DEC line printers for good bass.

    Later models (24 pin) would be good for higher-pitch sounds.

    I suppose old 'typewriter like' printers don't count?
  • by dragonfly_blue ( 101697 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:52AM (#979979) Homepage
    I downloaded these last week, I think somebody around here had pointed them out.

    There is something extremely peaceful and soothing to these songs. I looped them back-to-back for an hour or so, and I swear it was among the most transcendant experiences I've had this year.

    They also have a distinct 20th century edginess to them; whoever arranged these had quite the mastery of rhythm. ;-)

  • That's what I was trying to remember. Thank you!

  • I can hear it now. Beethoven's symphony in Screech-Major.

    Other uses of old dot matrix printers include:

    Cheap alarm clock alternative

    80 movie props

    prop doors open

    small boat anchor
  • This reminds me of the "disk drive music" tricks for the Commodore64. (Reference Here) [oldskool.org].

    But the history of this very cool idea goes all the way back to one of the old kit-computers where you toggled in the entire program using switches and got results from a couple of LEDs. It produced a different frequency whine depending on how hard the processor was working. Somebody got it to play "Mary Had A Little Lamb" at a meeting of an early Homebrew Computer Club. I can't remember which computer or club specifically, though.

  • I remember reading _years_ ago (when dot matrix printers weren't obsolete equipment!) about someone writing a concerto for dot-matrix printer and orchestra. Even got it performed with a real orchestra. Basically the printer starts out just making noises and attempting to get in on the musical act, and by the end of the piece it is harmonising with the rest of the orchestra. The piece finishes with a wild dot-matrix printer cadenza!

    Anyone know any more about this? I've tried a couple of web searches but not found anything. We are talking about 10 years ago if I recall right.

  • You mean the DFX 8,000 ?

    When *that* matrix sings it usualy brings the
    house down.
  • I downloaded it and tested it but there must have been a bunch of noise on my cabling: my SETI@Home suddenly reported that it found Beethoven living on some obscure planet. Highly unlikely.
  • I don't have a dot-matrix anymore, is there an emulator I can use with a regular soundcard?

    Duh! Heh!

  • When I was at school someone was up to it on a Commodore PET + 4022 printer.
    Any advance on that?
  • I'm ashamed to admit that I've found myself tapping my foot to the rhythm of the printer more than once. They've got more sense of rhythm than the average white boy, that's for sure.
  • I remember many many years ago listening to a song being played by the grinding noises of a 5 1/4 disk drive in an old IBM (then brand new) machine.

    I used to have the program but I hardly ever used it. I was always afraid of damaging such an expensive piece of equipment!

  • Can't get on the site, but I wonder if Epson MX-80 printers were used. They were nice, but the noisiest pritners ever.

    Was it the Diablo series of printers that had their own soundproofing case?
  • This is all nice and interesting, being a new musical form, but how many people are actually going to listen to it?

    However, I can imagine musicians sampling this into their own recordings.

    My $.02

  • And I thought boy bands were bad!
  • Hmmmm. I just squeaked in right before the server seemed to bow to the traffic. I did manage to get the three mp3's however. Very interesting stuff. I wonder how these things are controled and synchronized and all that? Unfortunately, I couln't grab the documentary quicktime clip or get and pictures to load.
  • I love it. This is what printers were meant to be; 150lb steel behemoths that send men to their deaths; that scare bystanders when they start printing a job; that suck up paper by the 20 pound boxful in an hour. I got mine from the dumpster at my University when they threw it out. Cleaned it up, WD-40'd the hammer array, replaced a couple of burned out bulbs in the buttons, and it's worked fine for the last 5 years and counting. It was hell hauling up the stairs, though. I remember puting a fake arm and leg in the printer at school one halloween. Freaked out a freshman! Tee hee! God, do they still make line printers like this anymore?
  • Wierd...I can still get to them just fine.

    I have the mp3's downloaded. Want me to mail them to you? I'll give them to anyone who wants to mirror.
  • Isn't this old news? The sites were posted in an earlier thread.

    The link is posted in this comment. [slashdot.org]

    Does this mean we can all be karma whores and submit user posts as news?


  • Telling technocrap collectors like myself about a project like this one gets me thinking. I personally have an Epson LQ 500, and at my office we've got a couple OTC 850s, and Oki 320, and a Fujitsu 3300, all collecting dust. Now, I'm sure I can create a nice dot matrix quartet or quintet. Now throw in an Epson Stylus 800, though it's an inkjet, it's actually got a rythmn to it when it's charging it's printheads.
  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @06:58AM (#979998)
    Stuff like this almost makes me wish I could go back in time to the beginning of the century, so I could hunt down all the minimalist composers and kill them.

    (by stabbing them over and over again... for several minutes... in the same location... with almost imperceptible variations to my rhythm... until those listening to the murder would fall into a trance-like state of understanding the structure of what I am doing.)

  • We set up AM radios next to our Apple II's -- before FCC mandated EMI shielding -- and use processor RF harmonics to play tunes.
  • Mirror Mirror

    On the Wall

    Who has the fastest Mirror

    Of them All?
  • Okay, I looked it up. It was an Altair 8800 at the Homebrew at the Peninsula School. The whine was picked up as radio interferance, and the first song done this way was "Fool On the Hill" by the Beatles. It was also predated by a "music" program for the PDP-1, but this was the first one for a "home" computer.

    This is all out of Steven Levy's excellent book "Hackers: Heroes of The Computer Revolution." Most of it is available online here [stanford.edu].

  • I remember using the tape drive switch on a BBC B microcomputer to make music and you could even make it make speech-like noises of you clicker it on and off at the right frequency.

    It was a fairly heavy duty switch but one had to replace them every now and then doing that...


    The BBC would also sing to you as it operated, you could tell what it was doing by the electronic noises it made :)

  • I remember people writing music routines for mechanical scientific calculators, the old
    monsters made by Marchant and others.

    We used to have rooms of these things for statistics classes when I went to college, although I can't remember anyone doing a multipart score. Maybe someone at MIT?
  • Yeah, no kidding I remember that and I still have that old IBM pc under the guest bed, never damaged it and played the old floppy drive for all of my friends. Ahh revilee on a floppy drive, can't beat that.
  • Paul P. did this much earlier (mid 80s if I recall correctly)... you can find it on CD at better record stores (look under the 20th Century Composers section if they have one, if not, get out of Sam Goody) -- He did it manually instead of over a network, but the sound and "message" remained the same.

  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @07:03AM (#980006) Homepage Journal
    It's the new TLD for cyberscifi and classical music.

    Coolasmovie.matrix , Wagner.matrix

    And they thought jello could start fires....
  • I never thought of having logs print "real-time". That's cool and all, but it sounds like a tremendous waste of paper...but I can;t really tink of anything right now that would be as cracker-proof. (as if anything is. I guess you could re-direc5t the queue, but you'd have to think of that) As far as line-printers for music....that is SICK. Although I'm into tech as much as any /. reader, there are certain things about my life that I can't stand... One is staring at a monitor all day, and two is the sound of dot-matrix printers! I was happy to see those things go!
  • Anyone have a mirror ? Or someone email the files and I'll put up a mirror.
  • I downloaded these and listened to them a few days ago.

    Unfortunately, the MP3's on the web site seem to be just short excerpts of the the whole symphony.

    Now, I listen to a lot of music, from classical to rock to various electronica. I was impressed by this - I had expected it to be kind of a gimmick, or kind of a joke. But what I heard actually sounded musically interesting. Better than a lot of modern music, anyway. If I saw the whole thing available on CD I would buy it.

    Your opinion, of course, may vary.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • I dunno about the emulator for the sound card, but IMAO, you wouldn't get the same ambiance of an old dot matrix printer and it's printhead sliding back and forth. You can probably pick up a printer at a junk store for no more than $5-$10, so it won't be that big of a loss of fundage
  • mirror here [michaelcreasy.com]

  • When I was little ( i.e. when I was 30 yrs. old in 1977) , there was a program that did this on an HP 2108 CPU with a paper tape reader. I don't remember the tune now tho'...

  • They could probably also use many current Epson ink jet printers. Mine plays a little tune every time I turn it on.
    I've never understood why those printers make so much noise. The whiring and buzzing seems to last for about 30 seconds! My HP deskjet doesn't make any sound at all on power-up.
  • Well, if we're gonna talk about non-printers making music, then I may as well plug my VT100 Oddities page [rt66.com], since a VT100 can make music too. Sort of.

  • by Calloravion ( 83881 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @07:10AM (#980016)
    And I thought my printer only hummed because it didn't know the words...

    Now if only they could synchronize your hard drives to the printer music, so you could get a higher range. Throw in the fans and the modem and you could do a quartet.

  • Thanks, moderators
    Glad you appreciate art
    Won't repeat offense

    How much karma have I?
    That, my friends, is The Question
    Dent knows The Answer


  • When I worked for an unnamed analytical instrument company, we were working on a new solid state spark source that was called "DIVA" (and I can't remember what it was an acronym for). It had distinctly different pitches depending on the power output of the spark and the VP of engineering (who was very old school) wanted to have the firmware drive the source to play the Star Spangled Banner on powerup as an embedded pun on the name.

    We never did do it, though.

  • Let's not forget the one application for impact printers that ink-jets and lasers will never fill: multipart forms.

    "Copy 7 - Destroy"
  • Another note:

    What this reminded me of most was parts of "Selected Ambient Works Volume II" by Aphex Twin. Tape loops and noises that sort of come together, much more than the sum of the parts, and induce a trance-like state... mmmm.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • Dot-matrix nearly forgotton? Not quite. It may not be used too much on the desktop anymore but dot-matrix printers are still very widely used for largescale print jobs. The company I work for has several very large Printek and IBM dot-matrix printers used for printing invoices, house bills, and ton's of other stuff off our AS/400. Nothing else can match their speed or flexability. Nothing can top them when it comes to printing on forms. It just pumps out hundreds of them out nonstop for hours. Many of them have multiple tractors allowing different types of forms to be printed on a single printer without changing paper. Printek's new printers are capable of doing barcoding on dot-matrix. Dot-matrix technology is developing, not disapearing.
  • Nothing like paying a little extra for firmware logic that causes wear and tear on your hardware. :) The dotmatrix symphony uses the technology as it's meant to work, so does (arguably) the HP scanner hack. But what about hard-drive races?? (I wish I had the link handy.. it's probably in the Jargon File somewhere.)

    Next: New from Nvidia, a graphics driver that sets your monitor sync out of range, to the tune of "Flight of the Bumblebee".

    Really, it makes me wonder. Are these Easter Eggs the reason why most software is late? Or do they just get written out of boredom when someone else drops the ball, and coders have nothing better to do.
  • Yes, I remember that well. I'm pretty sure it was by a Winnipeg native composer by the name of Victor Davies. He also did a symphony using car horns, which I saw performed on TV once. Very well done, very musical.

    A small description of that concert is available here [socan.ca].

    Victor Davies' website is at http://www.goodmedia.com/vdavies/ [goodmedia.com]. I recommend you check some of his music out. He is a phenominal composer.
  • "There are a couple pieces on The Big Bang that are sort of similar."
    Yes, those musical pieces using the creation of universes as instruments are impressive. Great bass, but there's this annoying hiss that never seems to end.

    I don't know when the next new performance around here is, as I don't know the tour schedule.

  • Now that I saw this thread, I'm starting to regret sending my MX-80 to the Goodwill. Thing was loud, cranky, and beeped like a VW when you sent a ^G to it. I'm serious, write a file that only has a ^G and echo it to your printer port, you'll swear a car's honking at you.
  • They are taking donations [mailto], you know :-)
  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @07:16AM (#980027) Homepage Journal

    Anyone got an mp3 of this, for those of us without the magical musical hardware?
  • Am I the only one who finds this mildly disturbing? Sure the idea is creative and unique, but dot matrix music? Well, whatever floats their boat.

  • You're right ... someone else pointed that site out just this past Sunday in the Computers and the Noise they Make [slashdot.org] article.

    Aha! There's the comment [slashdot.org]!
  • John Hughes the third Used a dot matrix printer for percussion and ambience on his band Bill 'Ding's Trust in god, but tie up your camel' Cd. The concept has always intrigued me. it's great to see the concept expanded upon. next step?
  • What you really have to wonder about is the code review process which has an approval method for Easter Eggs. I can see it in games where there's a market for publications with game secrets, but why make a word processor larger with them?
  • I went on a tour of an FAA air traffic control center many years ago. They had a line printer that could play the "Can-Can." Millions of dollars of machinery and thousands of lives hanging in the balance, and that's the most vivid memory I came away with...
  • Don't forget PC Speaker! I remember playing old SSI games (ages ago), which used the PC speaker for sound effects. Actually sounded pretty good (at the time).
  • Personally, I think this is great--a creative, imaginative way to recycle!

    . . .something the world could use a lot more of

  • From "Mechanical Music Digest(tm) Archives":
    http://www.foxtai l.com/Archives/Digests/199812/1998.12.15.09.html [foxtail.com]

    I heard that some joker put a print file in the hopper which contained the image of the print chain. When _all_ the hammers struck the chain at the same instant it dislodged from its drive wheels and flew through the plastic window of the machine. The repairman muttered, "I've seen this problem before. Wonder what causes it?" Even then there were "viruses" running around to wreck havoc upon the unsuspecting. -- Robbie

    Except that was probably someone trying to do a cannon shot...

    (Also from the same source): Introduction & Line Printer Music [foxtail.com].

    Since I can't seem to find anything really good on line printer music, I'll share some anecdotes which were shared with me.

    The "chain" on line printers (which holds the letters) used to have all the characters in ASCII (or EBCDIC, I presume) order. Notably, A-Za-z was present in unadulterated form. The problem with this is that anyone printing A-Za-z (interpolate for yourself, please) would fire 52 solenoids at once, frequently blowing the power supply (Or as mentioned in an article linked above) firing the chain out of the printer. The solution was to move the characters around the chain and have the printer translate by means of a lookup table (presumably). In any case, some people did go through the effort to figure out where the characters had been moved to on some printers, but this effectively killed line printer music. How do you do a good cannon shot without being able to fire them all at once?

    In any case, it's much the same as using a dot matrix printer; You fire off combinations of characters to generate different sounds. The thing here is that making music with line printers dates from the early seventies if not sooner; Since I'm from the late seventies, it predates me. People were making music with line printers before dot matrix printers existed.

    It's worthwhile to never forget your roots.

  • "Remember the dot-matrix"?

    Hell, I can remember many a Monday I didn't want to get up for school, as Dr. Demento was on at 1AM on monday mornings. I distinctly remember a piece entitled "Symphony for full orchestra with a typewriter" - how's *THAT* for old-school tech producing music?

    If anyone knows who that's by, or how to find a copy of it, please mail me - it's been lingering in my mind and I've been waiting for an appropriate time to mention it.
  • Maybe, but there's still a problem with that:

    Oh no, I think we've been cracked! Let's go look at the logs. Lesse, 2000 lines on my log (that's almost 34 pages full of information), and now I need to find all instances of the IP address hmm...

    How do you grep on a dot matrix output? (Or, if you're like me, just do a pattern search via less on paper?)

    Hmm, line 324 - access from .. nope, not right... next line... access from no, still not right... hmm...

  • Are they going to use C# for the programming? It seems oddly appropriate.

    Quick, hide! They're arming themselves with fruits and vegetables!
  • Sheesh, what a loud thing! In fact, I used it during my whole four years in college (1994-1998). My roommates and neighbors could hear it! Haha!

  • One of my dorm-mates once used his dot-matrix printer to get back at some rudeness on his roomie's part. Said roomie had stayed on the phone till about 2 AM arguing with his girlfriend, and my friend was trying to get some sleep before an 8 AM exam. Didn't work out too well.

    So my friend waits till a night when the roomie comes home drunk. He lets the roomie sleep for about an hour, then sends a half-megabyte text file to the printer.

    All bolded.

    With the printer set to half-speed mode.

    That was the last time the roomie kept my friend needlessly awake.


  • Take a look at this story [] from The Payphone Project [sorabji.com]!
  • How long before someone figures out how to stick a MIDI port and hardware on it for fun MIDI action? I can see it now...

    "Why are you hooking your printer up to your SoundBlaster MIDI port?"
    "To make it sound better."
  • Does anybody out there have a copy of LONE.EXE? I have searched for it on the web in vain.

    This was a program that played "The Lone Ranger" music through the PC speaker. The really impressive thing about it was that it was supposedly written on a pre-PC computer that used a similar instruction set and architecture to Intel (can anybody cite an example of that?).

    Anyway, another really impressive thing about this program was that it was only 4k for something like 5 minutes or more of music, albeit in an electronic sounding format. I had a copy of this on my old 286, and I saved the hard drive. Unfortunately, it used an interface standard that predated ISA. I've been told it's possible to adapt the drive, but I have neither the time nor the money to look into it, and it may not be on there anyway.

    This is also of some historical interest, as it is possibly one of the earliest "PC music" programs. It may even be 25 years old or more, so until I find it, I'll just have to make sure that nothing damages the old hard drive because it may be a "historical artifact".

  • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @08:02AM (#980059)
    Stuff like this almost makes me wish I could go back in time to the beginning of the century, so I could hunt down all the minimalist composers and kill them.

    What will you do for the 50 or so years between the turn of the century and the advent of minimalist composers?

  • Years ago (1970's) I heard a computer play Rimsky-Korsakov's "The Flight of the Bumblebee" at a museum of science in Paris. The audio device was a cheap AM transitor radio held close to a mainframe.

    This computer normally emitted radio waves during operation, and the "program" that was running during the demonstration was written especially to emit radio waves that played "The Flight of the Bumblebee".
  • by SMITHEE ( 26773 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @08:07AM (#980063)
    Correct -- these things have been around for ages. I first saw chain printer music demos on an IBM 360 in 1966, and they were already old and famous at that time. In roughly that same time frame I saw an IBM 1401 program which played music through a radio sitting on the CPU cabinet. I saw the CDC device referenced in the article some years later, but I believe it worked via a third mechanism. I think a speaker was hard wired to a D/A converter fed from one of the CPU registers.
  • If you were inhumanly patient and had a decent ear, you could write programs in FP Basic that would make an Apple II+ play tones out of the speaker. I remember a popular tune at our ComputerLand franchise was Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring."

  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @08:16AM (#980066)
    What will you do for the 50 or so years between the turn of the century and the advent of minimalist composers?

    I guess I would use the end of my knife to pluck Middle C on a piano until 1935, when Terry Riley is born... then I'll start with him.

    Why would I wait for them to grow up and start writing? That would defeat the purpose of going back in time. If I just wanted revenge, I could take it out on Brian Eno.

  • Not everyone has a strict code review process for every little bit of code that goes into a product. I suspect the environment at Microsoft development is a lot less rigid than a lot of people would initially think. You gotta realize that if you turn everything into a huge formal production, you'll never get anything done. And Microsoft has really been spewing in recent years, so I can't imagine a whole lot of formal code review going on.

    I myself added an easter egg to a program I've worked on (not at Microsoft). A Mandelbrot generator in an RTF print preview program doesn't take that much space. One other developer has found it for himself (in the code) in the 1.5 years the code has been out... and that's because of the blatantly obvious out-of-place "mandel.c"... sticking out right there in SourceSafe. I did it because, at the time, I had nothing better to do, and have always wanted to make an easter egg in a commercial product.

    Silly me, I forgot the point of easter eggs (at least the Microsoft ones you see) and neglected to even include my name.

    BTW, Ctrl-Alt-Shift-NumPad*
  • One of the most vivid memories I have of my C64 is a little program which played "kung fu fighting", in clear AM quality audio. It was amazing for its time, I could hardly believe it.

    -- iCEBaLM

  • at the end of 'ringfinger' (the last track on 'pretty hate machine') there is a twisted guitar (that's what i've heard it claimed to be) which sounds almost exactly like a dot matrix.

    to me anyway..
  • by orpheus ( 14534 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @08:40AM (#980075)
    Symphony for Dot Matrix?

    Man-oh-man, it must be Friday, 'cuz I read something totally different

    Sympathy for Dot Matrix
    (to the tune of "Sympathy for the Devil" By Mick Jagger/Keith Richards)

    Please allow me to introduce myself
    I'm a past that you must face
    I've been around for a long, long year
    Stole many a man's soul and faith

    I was around when TRS-80s
    Had their moment of dubious fame
    Made Damn sure that Tandy
    Washed their hands and sealed your fate.

    Pleased to meet you
    Hope you guess my name
    But what's puzzling you
    Is the nature of my game

    I stuck around in adding machines
    When the computer saw the time to change
    I handled carbons and NCR's
    As the lasers screamed in vain

    Built like a tank
    Held a general's rank
    When line printers raged
    And the toner stank


    I watched with glee
    While compatibility
    and the price you paid
    Were the laser's grave

    You always knew
    What screwed your CRT
    It was EMI
    From the DMP

    Let me please introduce myself
    I'm a past that you must face
    And I'm the best for preprinted forms
    That can't be filled in any other way


    Just as every box is a terminal
    Most of your print queue is text
    I'm noisy as Hell
    Just call me Lucifer
    'Cause for some jobs I'm still the best

    So if you meet me
    Have some courtesy
    Have some sympathy, and some taste
    Use all your well-learned politesse
    Or I'll lay your forms to waste.


    Tell me baby, what's my name
    Tell me honey, baby guess my name
    Tell me baby, what's my name
    Tell you one time, you're to blame

    Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- who
    Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- who
    Oh, yeah

    What's my name
    Tell me, baby, what's my name
    Tell me, sweetie, what's my name

    Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- who
    Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- Ooo, who -- who
    Oh, yeah
  • I wanted to write a filk: "Listen to the rhythm of the line printers".

    Hey, Bubbala, for a fellow /. er, anything.... after all, Orpheus (in Greek Mythology) was not just the guy who snagged the rad Eurydice, he was a mega-jammin' musician first

    Listen to the Rhythm of the Line Printer
    To the tune of "Rhythm Of The Falling Rain" by The Cascades

    Listen to the rhythm of the Line Printer
    It giving me a terminal headache
    I wish that I had thought before I hit 'Enter'
    Cause the feedpath screws up when I 'Break'

    The user queue is lengthy for for the batch laser,
    And management won't buy a broken part.
    So I'm stuck with this Goliath of a Line Printer
    That grew up drawing ASCII art.

    Hey, please tell me now does that seem fair?
    The sysops all are underpaid, but they don't care
    I can't track a cracker when log output takes half a day

    The user queue is lengthy for for the batch laser,
    And management won't buy a broken part.
    So I'm stuck with this Goliath of a Line Printer
    That grew up drawing ASCII art.

    There's Pain in my temples and it just won't go.
    I'm going to light the paper, set this place aglow
    Take the mainframe apart, then maybe our budget will grow

    Listen to the rhythm of the Line Printer
    It giving me a terminal headache
    I wish that I had thought before I hit 'Enter'
    Cause the feedpath screws up when I 'Break'

    Oh listen to the falling rain
    pitter-patter, from the sprinklers, ooo-oo-oo
    Listen, listen....
  • by iota ( 527 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @09:22AM (#980085) Homepage
    The HP ScanJet 4C actually came with a program called 'Jukebox' (i think?) that played ode to joy, when the saints come marching in, and a few other similar songs. I think it had a total of 5 tunes (quite a jukebox!) and it froze the rest of the computer while using it, but everyone always got a kick out of hearing the scanner buzz out 'It's a Small World' with its scan head motor.

    Quite interesting. I tried to figure out the file format, but to no avail... I think if I could feed MIDI files to my scanner, I wouldn't need any MP3's! :)

  • Happen sometimes as test code. I've worked on several embedded systems projects that had easter eggs in them. One time the folks working on the display driver and keyboard/joystick input board wrote a marching line of "pacMan" (tm) munching the screen clear, then took that to an actual pacman game.

    They were testing the hardware drivers, and they were ready ahead before anyone else needed their section.

  • The radio on top of the CPU cabinet was just picking up RFI on the AM channel. There is no wired connection into the computer. You could also get music by putting an AM radio next to a HP programable calculator and running a program.
  • Make a beautiful musical team. Just watch out for head knocking on the 1541.
  • by ArcticChicken ( 172915 ) on Friday June 23, 2000 @09:50AM (#980094)
    You know, *every* time someone here on Slashdot talks about an old freeware or public-domain program for the PC and how they wish they still had it, I've found the program within about 5 minutes.

    Hey, all you nostalgics! Go here:

    OAK Software Repository [oakland.edu]

    Right from the main page, go to the section called PC/Blue Disk Library [oakland.edu], and go to the PCBLUE subdirectory. Then download the big master index (pbcat.zip). Find the archive file that holds the software you're looking for (trust me, they're all in there), and enjoy!

    In your particular case, you're thinking of the "PianoMan" software. There were actually many, many different tunes available with that program, not just the William Tell Overture (a.k.a. the Lone Ranger's theme song). The PianoMan program had the ability to generate COM files from the included music (MUS) files. That's why the Lone Ranger song got distributed so much more than the entire PianoMan package.

    Rest assured, if you download Volume 216 from the above archive, and then spend about 2 minutes reading the PianoMan documentation, you'll be able to re-generate that Lone Ranger tune/program.
  • Thanks!!!

    The WILLTELL.COM file that it generated was 33k, but perhaps my memory exagerated this. This must be it, because it had a very memorable sound to it.

    Thank-you very much for solving one of those "nagging little things" and now I probably won't have to fuss with the old hard drive.

    This also explains why my searches were fruitless. Now, if somebody builds a search engine smart enough to index into compressed files, and even subindex into compressed files in formats as obscure as ARCX, I will be very impressed.

    ArcticChicken should be moderated up Informative.

  • I watched Cube [imdb.com] the other day, and noticed that the soundtrack featured either a dot matrix printer or a really good simulation. I was idly thinking that it would be neat to a whole piece based on it, but these guys have obviously beat me to the punch.

    I also have a Graphtec X-Y plotter, which makes neat sounds, especially from programmatically generated images, such as a cardioid. I've been hacking it to do pencil and watercolor images, with promising results.

    Oh well, back to paid hacking now.
  • There are also large high-speed laser printers for this sort of thing. A company that I worked at a few years ago had several 300ppm laser printers for printing medical bills. It was truly impressive to see them spit out a pile of paper (quite noisy, however).
  • When I was in high school in 1981, we had a "computer room" which was a classroom with four DecWriter II terminals and 300 baud acoustic modems. (Knocking on the side of the modem to get line noise was fun all in itself!)

    They had this program they would run every now and then (like during lunch hour) which generated endless pages of math problems (like four digit addition, two digit multiplication, etc.) for the remedial math students. At 300 baud, the program made this unmistakable sound between the digits (with one or two spaces in between) and the lines under the problems. skritch, skritch, skritch, skritch, thunkswoosh, skritch, skritch, skritch, skritch, thunkswoosh, bzzzzz, bzzzzz, bzzzzz, bzzzzz, thunkunkunkswoosh...
  • Then they can write a script whose only goal is to create the most verbose log messages. As someone else said, it's hard to grep a stack of paper. But it's even harder to do it when someone is deliberately making your job harder by diluting the stream.
  • Good thing I read all the way through the responses before I posted about this. I remember this vaguely from the 80's. My maniacal best friend told me about them, along with his copy protection breaking software.

    Anybody remember "Impossible Mission?"

  • by babbage ( 61057 )
    Wow cool, this was an exhibit at the Institute for Contemporary Art in London a year or so ago, but being in Alabama I couldn't exactly attend and I was never able to find a decent web site &/or sample of the music. I'm looking forward to listening to this.

    You might be interested to know that Man or Astroman? [astroman.com] are using the same trick on their new album, in a track called -- fittingly, A Simple Text File [slab.org]. Supposedly there's an mp3 of it laying around, but I haven't heard it yet.

    Friends of mine are all into this kind of music. I remember hearing about one that did more or less the same as this dot matrix stuff, only with a room full of hard drives and very precisely accessed text files & a bit of perl magic. If you find this sort of thing interesting, you might want to listen to (void).mp3 [slab.org] by Alex MacLean [generative.net], which was 100% generated with a perl script and the logs of a mailing list, and generative.net [generative.net], where people that are in to this sort of stuff congregate and exchange ideas about what art really is [generative.net]. All very fascinating stuff...

  • At last! Lotus releases a version of Symphony [bton.ac.uk] that works with dot matrix printers, not just those Selectric-style line printers! Now I can use the spreadsheet-that's-a-graph-and-word-processor-too to print out my love letters, pie charts, AND budget projections! I've been waiting for a new version since before Prince was The Artist Formerly Known As!

    One important question: do you need an 80386SX computer with 1MB of RAM to run it? Otherwise I'm out of luck. Blasted MS-DOS 3.3! What if I run Desqview -- is it Quarterdeck certified? It doesn't conflict with Sidekick or other TSRs, I hope. Can't live without those.

    I hope it fits on a single app floppy. I hate having to swap floppies just to run a program. 720K ought to be big enough for anything.

C Code. C Code Run. Run, Code, RUN! PLEASE!!!!