Alan Turing’s First Ever Computer-Generated Music Recovered By Researchers


alan-turing-machine-musicShort Bytes: Jack Copeland, along with composer Jason Long, from the University of Canterbury, have restored the first computer-generated music. The audio, recorded on a 12-inch disk by BBC, was created by computer scientist Alan Turing in 1951 on the same machine he used to break Enigma code.

The English computer scientist – the beaker of the Nazis’ Enigma code – Alan Turing is known as the father of computer science. He created the Turing Machine and contributed to the fields of computer science, mathematics, cryptanalysis, etc. An unknown fact about the great pioneer is that he was also an electronic musician.

“Alan Turing’s pioneering work in the late 1940s on transforming the computer into a musical instrument has been largely overlooked,” said the researchers from the University of Canterbury who have successfully restored an old music recording of Alan Turing.

In 1951, the first-ever computer music was made on the same gigantic machine Turing created for breaking the Enigma. The recording of the music was done by a BBC unit at Computing Machine Library, Manchester, England.

While analyzing the 12-inch disk, Jack Copeland and composer Jason Long found that the audio on the disk was distorted. “The frequencies in the recording were not accurate. The recording gave at best only a rough impression of how the computer sounded,” the researchers said.

They made the necessary change to get the music right. “It was a beautiful moment when we first heard the true sound of Turing’s computer.” The restored recording features God Save The King, Baa Baa Black Sheep, and In the Mood jazz song by Glenn Miller.

Jack Copeland is a professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury. He has authored several books on Alan Turing and his life.

Turing wasn’t concerned much about the fact that the sound he was creating could be called as a tune. Christopher Strachey took the job of doing so. Turing’s response was “Good Show” after he heard the music.

As per an inquest, it is believed that Turing committed suicide on June 8, 1954, by eating cyanide. He was found dead by his housekeeper. A half-eaten Apple next to his bed is assumed at the mode of cyanide intake. However, many people still don’t believe the suicide death theory including Copeland.

Jack Copeland came up with a different theory which ruled out the possibility of Turing committing suicide. He said that Turing used to keep an apparatus setup for gold electroplating spoons for which potassium cyanide is used. He noted that the inhalation of cyanide was apparent than ingestion in the post-mortem report. He also pointed out Turing’s daily habit of eating an apple before bed as a probable reason a half-eaten Apple was found.

Listen to the first ever computer-generated music by Alan Turing:

via The Guardian

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Also Read: 10 Historic Computers That Changed The World Of Computing And Technology

Aditya Tiwari

Aditya Tiwari

Aditya likes to cover topics related to Microsoft, Windows 10, Apple Watch, and interesting gadgets. But when he is not working, you can find him binge-watching random videos on YouTube (after he has wasted an hour on Netflix trying to find a good show). Reach out at [email protected]
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