Re: [linux-audio-user] old school

From: Dave Phillips <dlphillips@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Sun Jul 17 2005 - 19:45:35 EEST

John Mulholland wrote:

> Does anyone have any info on the early open source audio software and
> its compatible hardware? I have been looking around for a history type
> page but not found anything yet.

That history remains to be written, but here are some notes towards it:

    Almost all the early UNIX-based software sound synthesis languages
were (and many still are) open-source. Such programs include Csound,
cmusic, Common Lisp Music, and most of the other MusicV-derived
languages. In addition, many tools such as Snd, Rt, and MiXViews were
open-source before Linux existed.

    During the MIDI boom of the 1980s some DOS music/sound applications
had source code available, though rarely. More typically the authors
would respond to requests for sources, especially after cheap compilers
made it possible for desktop users to build their own binaries (I'm sure
that darned few of them did though). IIRC the RAVEL language included
its source code, and possibly some of the smaller utilities included
sources (or made sources available on request). The Atari seems to have
had a lot of people writing MIDI freeware, its again possible that
sources were available for some of that stuff too. Alas, the Mac ("the
computer for the rest of us", as long as you could afford one) situation
is unknown to me, but given its designed hostility towards hackers I
doubt there's much open-source history there for music and sound
software (I look forward to clarifying responses).

    When I started using Linux in the mid-90s I was happy to find a lot
of source code for music/sound apps for SGI hardware. With much
assistance from people like Niccola Bernardini and Richard Kent I was
able to successfully port many of those apps to Linux. These programs
included Mix, Sono, Ceres, and other software from Oyvind Hammer at
NoTAM, the DAP editor by Richard Kent, and MiXViews by Doug Scott. Many
other open-source apps were available for SGI iron, but not all could be
ported to Linux.

  I suggest writing to Bill Schottstaedt, Paul Lansky, and John ffitch
for a heads-up on Ye Olde Days. Those fellows are extremely knowledgable
about the early UNIX sound software. Brad Garton, Eric Lyons, and Dave
Topper can give you more info regarding later developments.

  You can also reference Curtis Roads' great Computer Music Tutorial,
it's loaded with historical stuff, including some wonderful photos of
ancient gear. The book's a bit pricey, but you might score a good deal
for it on eBay.


Received on Sun Jul 17 20:15:08 2005

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