Graphic 1

The Graphic 1 is a hybrid system (hardware and software) for graphics communication between user and computer. It was developed by William Ninki at Bell Labs in 1965. The system, designed for engineering purposes, it was used by Max Mathews in combination with the Music IV in order to define graphically the notes values.

Premises – The use of the Graphic 1, for music, it binds to two factors: on the one hand, in general, the exchange of information between user and computer, with graphics mode, faster communication. On the other hand, specifically, in the Music N programs, enter the values of a sound with alphanumeric mode is a process rather tiring, as Mathews himself recognizes at the beginning of his writing.[1] The first reason has pushed William Ninki, like many colleagues from other centers, to develop a system that allowed graphic communication. The second, however, has led Mathews to use, in the music context of its software, a system designed for other purposes.

Hardware – The whole system was divided into two main units: the first consisted of a PDP-5 computer and some control devices for data input. The second unit consisted of a DEC Type 340 Precision Incremental display which was associated with a RVQ Ampex buffer memory by 4096 and 36-bit. The monitor allows a rapid conversion of data in graphic form in a grid of 1024×1024 points.[2] The first unit was used for input, the second for output. The latter, to be clear, task of converting the data in memory in graphic form displayed on the monitor. A main computer IBM 7094 was added at these two units. The data for the conversion could be prepared either by the Graphic 1 input system that through the IBM 7094. They had not been provided storage devices. Only the IBM 7094 was equipped with a SC 4020 recorder that can store on microfilm. It was necessary to wait two to four hours to complete the registration process.[2]

Lawrence Losler e Max Mathews di fronte al terminale video del Graphic 1.

Lawrence Losler and Max Mathews in front of the monitor of the Graphic 1.

Interface – The two main units, which we have just mentioned, were connected through an interface designed for the passage of control signals and other information from one device to another. The same interface also allows communication between the PDP-5, the buffer memory and the IBM 7094.

Input devices – As an experimental project, the Graphic 1 was equipped with various devices: a Light Pen Mar Type 370, a sensitive light pen (sensitive to light, but does not emit),[2] a ASR 33 Teletype keyboard, two track ball for the two-dimensional placement, four switches and a DEC Type 451A card reader. This was to identify the device that best suits your needs. In his music application Mathews decided to use the light pen.

Software – As for the software side there are three main units: a post-processor developed in IBM 7094 FAP-MACRO assembler, useful to generate, combine and link programs for the PDP-5, a postprocessor for the monitor, also developed in MACRO-FAP for the IBM 7094, and GRIN software that allowed the passage of information between the Graphic 1 and IBM 7094.

Grin – This was the most important software for the needs of Mathews. Later it was also supported by Grin94, its own evolution.[1] GRIN stands for Graphical Input,[2] was a software suitable for situations where you had to manipulate in real-time graphical information on the console. Since the Graphic 1 was used to prepare data on the frequency, amplitude and duration of each sound or group of sounds; Grin took care to divide the monitor console in two areas: one set of light buttons and a grid in wich draw music functions. The most important was this grid. Abscissa shows the duration values, expressed in beats or any other arbitrary units, but proportional to the time provided. On the two ordered, however, the frequency values reported were expressed according to the Anglo-Saxon terminology (left ordinate) while on the right ordinate values of amplitude, expressed in traditional music terms (pp, ff, fff, etc. ..) Once made the score graphic and after recording it on microfilm, all data were converted to alphanumeric notation, so you can manage and synthesize through Music IV.[1]

Graphic 2 – In 1967 was developed a new version of this graphical system. Using a PDP-2 computer and Grin 2. At the moment there aren’t examples of its use in the field of music.[3]



[1] Max Mathews, L. Losler, Graphical Language for the Scores of Computer-generated Sounds in Music by Computers, edited by Heinz Von Foerster and James W. Beauchamp, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1969.
[2] William Ninke, Graphic 1: A Remote Graphical Display Console System, Proceedings of Fall Joint Computer Conference, Vol. 27, 1965.
[3] Joseph Ossanna, The current state of minicomputer software, Spring Joint Computer Conference, 1972.

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