A Scanner, a Calculator, an Atari, and a Hard Drive Walk into a Karaoke Bar…

Music Technology
A Scanner, a Calculator, an Atari, and a Hard Drive Walk into a Karaoke Bar…

…and after several rounds of zinc whiskers, take to the stage for a rousing if slightly off-key rendition of The Animals’ 1964 version of The House of The Rising Sun. From Vimeo user PURETUNE, who writes:

For this video i recorded each instrument separately with a decent stereo mic and i also used a mixer to adjust the audio levels. i would like to point out that absolutely no sampling or audio effects were used.


a. HP Scanjet 3P, Adaptec SCSI card and a computer powered by Ubuntu v9.10 OS as the Vocals. (hey, the scanner is old)
b. Atari 800XL with an EiCO Oscilloscope as the Organ
c. Texas instrument Ti-99/4A with a Tektronix Oscilloscope as the Guitar
d. Hard-drive powered by a PiC16F84A microcontroller as the bass drum and cymbal

i would like to give a shoutout to James Houston who (i think) was the first person to use multiple legacy computer equipment in conjunction to make a song. Be sure to take the time to view his YouTube video “Big ideas: Don’t get any – Radiohead cover by James Houston”.

[Thanks, Dale!]

Update: It has been brought to my attention that a TI-99 is not a calculator (at least not in the common sense of the word) but an early home computer. Woops! Sorry, folks.

20 thoughts on “A Scanner, a Calculator, an Atari, and a Hard Drive Walk into a Karaoke Bar…

  1. Adam says:

    I love the hard drive

    1. Debbie says:

      Thanks for the heads up on this Adam I enjoyed it.

  2. Ted Meyers says:

    Eh, A TI 99/4a is not a calculator. Other than that, a good headline.

    1. Sean Ragan says:

      Gee, that is sorta an important detail, isn’t it? Thanks, Ted. Sorry, all.

      1. critter42 says:

        too young to remember this wonderful piece of equipment? the Extended Basic, the Assembler Module, the PE-Box, and who can forget Parsec (especially if you had the Speech Synthesizer)? I am old :(

  3. Havalandırma says:

    Yes I love the hard drive

  4. w richard stark says:

    This is a very nice composition. However the [mis]use of computer equipment as musical instruments is not new. In the early ’60s I worked my way through the University of Kentucky as an IBM360 operator. My predecessors had saved the 1620 in a back room. There programs composed of DO-loops created EM fields corresponding to classical [especially Bach] tunes. To hear it: place your SONY transistor radio near the ALU and tune until the music was clear.

  5. Various old hardware play music | XRobots blog says:

    […] There have been several examples of playing music with stepper motors in printers and with floppy drives. Here is a particularly good example of some old hardware playing House of the Rising Sun. Via Make. […]

  6. Emil says:


  7. Rich says:

    Thank God some people have too much free time on their hands or the world would be a boring place. :P

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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