30 May 2016
BUILD IT YOURSELF
Back in 1973, I was looking at a wall. The writing on it said to learn about computers.
So, I took a course in computer repair and never looked back.
1/f Random Tones —
Making Fractal Music
By Tony Scarpelli
My wife bought me a KIM-1 single board computer ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KIM-1 ) for my birthday in
1976; it cost $245. I wrote a KIM-1 program in
assembly language that played 1/f random
notes. I wrote an article about it, and in July
1976 it was published in Personal Computing
called, “1/f Random Tones.” They paid me $400.
It paid for the computer for sure.
During the rest of the ‘70s, I wrote a lot of
programs for it and began writing articles about
the programs. The KIM-1 had 1K of RAM and
2K of ROM. It stored programs on cassette tape,
had a six-character display, and you had to
program it in assembly language using hex
numbers with an ASCII keypad for entry.
Since then, I’ve published many more
money-making articles; at that time, the
computer magazines paid pretty well. After a
couple years, I bought boards to make the KIM-
1 a little smarter which allowed me to program
in BASIC; that would have been “Microsoft
Cassette BASIC.” I was having a problem with it
and called Microsoft. I actually got to talk to Bill
Gates on the phone at the time. What did he
have to say: “Call your vendor.”
I eventually updated my computer life by
getting a Tandy/RadioShack TRS-80
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS-80). I built
an IBM Selectric ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
IBM_Selectric_typewriter) Terminal printer
interface and printer driver that was published in
a British magazine called Wireless World. The
Selectric had solenoids in it to drive all the keys.
Thus, I was able to print all my code and other
writings out in letter quality print. It was slow,
but beautiful. There were many, many computer
magazines on the store racks at the time and I
wrote articles for many of them. Back in 1980,
Nuts & Volts was printed on news stock and
actually looked like a newspaper.
Since we don’t have to use ancient
computers any more in our programming, I
decided to write the 1/f program using an
Arduino. However, let’s first talk a bit about 1/f
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