Music made by computers has been commonplace for many years now. All but the most lo-fi of recordings are going to go through a computer in some fashion, and oftentimes computers are doing all the work. However, perhaps you would be surprised to find out that the first computer music was made 65 years ago. Now, thanks to some intrepid researchers at the University of Canterbury, you can hear the first music ever made by a computer yet again.
Alan Turing, yes the same guy played by Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, programmed a couple massive computers that could create series of clicks that could make the sound of a tone. Computer scientist Chistopher Strachey then took those tones and programmed the computer to play some songs, including “God Save the Queen,” naturally. In 1951, the computer was recorded “performing” by the BBC, but the recording was very poor.
Professor Jake Copeland and composer Jason Long found the recording, and decided to try and clean it up and make it sound the way it was supposed to. They were able to figure out the proper speed and pitch for the song to be played at, and also cleaned up extraneous noise on the recording.
Now, you can listen to the new, cleaned up version of music made by a computer in 1951. It doesn’t go completely swimmingly, and in the recording you can also hear BBC engineers giggling at some of the issues with playing the recording. However, it’s still pretty cool to hear computer made music that’s 65 years old.