Charles Petzold

Adventures in Electronic Music

September 29, 2011
Roscoe, N.Y.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I designed and built several electronic music instruments, including a computer-controlled digital synthesizer capable of generating 80 simultaneous sine curves combined into 40 simple-FM voices.

This was a hobby. It was entirely for my own amusement and I had no interest in creating commercial products. But as a hobby it was rather fruitful: This was how I learned digital electronics (which later allowed me to write Code), and 8080 assembly language (so leaping to 8086 assembly language wasn't too difficult when the IBM PC came out).

Two summers ago I attempted to gather some artifacts from those electronic-music projects — including photographs, documents, scores, memories, and over 4 hours of virtually unlistenable "music" ripped from reel-to-reel and casette tapes — and put them on a web page. At the time, I thought it would be fun to code a bunch of Silverlight 2 utilities to help with the presentation of this material, and I guess I got hung up on the code and never finished getting the page in shape.

Recently I decided to forget about the Silverlight utilities and do the whole web page in straight HTML 4. And so I did and here it is: