“Oldest” Computer Generated Music Unveiled

\"Baby\": Grandfather to your Mac

While most of us sit here idling our MacBooks and laptops, let us take a moment to reminisce about a time where computers were housed in separate buildings and took nearly a week to program a simple math calculation. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of “Baby,” a forerunner to all modern computers, the University of Manchester has unveiled the first computer-generated music recordings ever: a scratchy version of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and a truncated version of “In the Mood.” The recordings were captured in the Autumn of 1951 at the University of Manchester and were played on a Ferrari Mark 1 computer, a commercial model of the “Baby” machine. The program that generated the music was written by the late Christopher Strachey, a math master at Harrow and friend to legendary computer pioneer, Alan Turing. So the next time we’re impatiently waiting 2 minutes for our iTunes to load a CD, we can thank “Baby” and Mr. Strachey for our well-founded frustrations.

BBC Video of “Baby”: www.bbc.co.uk