Sunday, January 22, 2017
  1933 MIDI

Programmable mechanisms for entertainment go back a LONG way. Greeks were making water-driven clocks and animals 2000 years ago. Around 1200AD the trend started again with clockwork. Music boxes expanded into orchestras with human-like performers.

Analog electronics didn't join the trend in a major way. Some fountains and carillons were driven by music-box technology through relays instead of gears, but that's not really electronic.

Here's one attempt at a fully electronic music box, found in a 1933 radio journal.



The Talk-A-Lite by Operadio. Clearly not a home consumer product. Chassis to be mounted in some larger setup. Seems to have several switches on the front, Strowger relays inside and a turntable on top. But how does it work?

Fortunately the patent was available, and clearly shows the mechanism.



On the top part of the circuit you can see the turntable, the needle (15), leading to a simple amplifier with speaker (19). This part is just a phonograph.

= = = = =

The system takes advantage of a basic property of hearing. If two signals are ADDED or mixed linearly, we hear them separately. The control signals (big wiggles on the wave) are ADDED to the speech or music (small sharp wiggles). Because the control waves are too slow for us to hear, we don't even notice them. [You'd also want the upper amplifier to be AC-coupled so the speaker doesn't move with the control wiggles. This was default design for tube amps, so the inventor probably didn't think it was worth specifying.]

To demonstrate, I pulled a few seconds from a Ripley radio program that sounds sort of educational, then generated a couple of control pulses typical of the patent's concept.

Separate waves as seen in Audacity:



Hear the Ripley by itself.

Hear the control pulse by itself.

After adding the two waves, you can see the mixing clearly in the waveform.



Can you hear it?

Hear the mixture.

Despite the appearance, you can't hear the control pulses.

= = = = =

The lower part of the circuit leads to the real action, which is described in the text but not shown completely as a schematic. Several tunable circuits pick up the various control tones, and each tuned circuit kicks a Strowger relay forward by one step when it picks up its own tone. You would then tie your lights or solenoids to appropriate outputs of the Strowgers.



The inventors did a good job of imagining a wide range of uses. You could click through a sequence of pictures, or demonstrate some phenomenon or device, or trigger special effects in a theater.

I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work, and it was obviously manufactured and sold. But it didn't succeed, and we didn't get true electronic control until the digital era when MIDI came along.


= = = = =

Sidenote: The Wiki article on Strowger mentions something I hadn't heard before: Alton Strowger sold out of Automatic Electric a few years after he founded it. He decided to take a flat payment of $10k (roughly $200k today) instead of royalties on the patent. Dumb.

The Ripley show mentions that Columbus decided to take a flat annual payment of $16k instead of a 10% royalty on all the gold and resources flowing from America to Spain. Dumb. [Episode not online AFAIK, so here's a longer segment to show what I mean.]

But: as usual, reality wasn't as simple as Ripley. Columbus himself accepted the 10% royalty, then he got crossgrained with the Spanish government, at one point allying himself with some of the Injun tribes (!!!!!!!) against the king. When he returned to Spain he was jailed for a while. Even so, the 10% deal was still in place when Chris died in 1506. His heirs got even more crossgrained, continuously suing for more power and money. The suits were finally arbitrated in 1536, giving the heirs some meaningless titles and 16k ducats per year. This website says a 1500s ducat was about $25 in modern money, so 16k ducats would have been about 20k dollars in the 1930s or 400k dollars today. Ripley was right on the amount, wrong on the sequence of events, wrong on the claim of injustice. Chris got a good deal and accepted it. His heirs got what they deserved for being litigious dickheads.

Moral of the story: Unless you're 100% certain that the company or the contract is going to fail within a year, TAKE THE ROYALTIES. And the unless doesn't even matter. If the company is already failing it won't be able to pay the flat sum anyway. So the rule reduces to TAKE THE ROYALTIES.

Labels: ,

 


<< Home

blogger hit counter
My Photo
Name:
Location: Spokane

Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

My graphics products:

Free stuff at ShareCG

And some leftovers here.

ARCHIVES
March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 / April 2010 / May 2010 / June 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / December 2010 / January 2011 / February 2011 / March 2011 / April 2011 / May 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / December 2011 / January 2012 / February 2012 / March 2012 / April 2012 / May 2012 / June 2012 / July 2012 / August 2012 / September 2012 / October 2012 / November 2012 / December 2012 / January 2013 / February 2013 / March 2013 / April 2013 / May 2013 / June 2013 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014 / February 2014 / March 2014 / April 2014 / May 2014 / June 2014 / July 2014 / August 2014 / September 2014 / October 2014 / November 2014 / December 2014 / January 2015 / February 2015 / March 2015 / April 2015 / May 2015 / June 2015 / July 2015 / August 2015 / September 2015 / October 2015 / November 2015 / December 2015 / January 2016 / February 2016 / March 2016 / April 2016 / May 2016 / June 2016 / July 2016 / August 2016 / September 2016 / October 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016 / January 2017 / February 2017 /


Major tags or subjects:

Carbon Cult
Defensible spaces
Ethics
Experiential education
Grand Blueprint
Гром победы
Heimatkunde
Language updates
Metrology
Natural law = Sharia law
New toys
Skill-estate
Switchover

Powered by Blogger