From beeps and buzzes to the charts

Post this page to popular social media

New hands-on computer music display at TNMOC

A new temporary hands-on display about the history of computer music has been created at TNMOC to complement the Music By Programmers fundraising album of electronica.

Compiled by TNMOC volunteer and computer music technology fan, Ben Trethowan, the display traces the origins of computer music from the buzzes and beeps made by the mainframes of the 1950s, through the music software that became available for the consumer desktops of the 1980s, to some of the pioneering mathematical techniques used today. Museum visitors will also be able to experiment with music software on 1980s desktop computers located alongside the display in TNMOC's highly popular PC Gallery.

Visitors will also be treated to samples of the fundraising album Music By Programmers, authentic electronica (available through the usual download websites) created by Jason Gorman and colleagues to help start a programming club for young people at The National Museum of Computing and for parent-child maths workshops run by the Bletchley Park Trust. The album recently entered the Amazon top 40.

Ben Trethowan, who created the computer music display, explained: "Computer music has come a very long way from the first challenges of making noises using computers, resulting in beeping renditions of Baa Baa Black Sheep in the early 1950s, to the computer-aided algorithmic compositions, improvised live coding, and the Music By Programmers album of today. TNMOC's display follows the development of computer music from its origins on the earliest stored-program computers, through the software that gave consumers the ability to create their own music on home desktops of the 1970s and 1980s, to the professional dedicated music systems commonly in use today."

During the summer at TNMOC, the computer music theme will be extended through workshops which will give visitors the opportunity to write their own code to generate music, try out one of the first semi-professional dedicated computer music systems, the Yamaha CX5M, and follow the development of computer music systems from the Acorn to the Apple.

The first computer to play music was CSIRAC, Australia's first digital computer from the 1950s. There was a public performance of the Colonel Bogey March, but no recording is thought to have survived. The first known original recordings of computer music, God Save The King and part of In The Mood amongst them, were made in Britain in 1951 using a Ferranti Mark I computer with software created by computer scientist Christopher Strachey.

Notes To Editors

Music By Programmers fundraising album

Music By Programmers, an album of authentic electronica created by software programmers, has been released to help start a programming club for young people at The National Museum of Computing and to raise money to fund parent-child maths workshops run by the Bletchley Park Trust.

The tracks have been created by Jason Gorman, Chris Whitworth, Yuriy O’Donnell, Peter Camfield, Lance Walton and Brian P Hogan. Biographies and track notes can be found on

The download is available from CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3 and Google Play.

About The National Museum of Computing

The National Museum of Computing, located at Bletchley Park, is an independent charity housing the largest collection of functional historic computers in Europe, including a rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.

Funders of the Museum include Bletchley Park Capital Partners, CreateOnline, Ceravision,, Google UK, PGP Corporation, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, BCS, the Drapers' Foundation, Black Marble, and the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

The Museum is currently open to the public on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm, and on Bank Holidays in spring and summer. Guided tours are also available at 2.30pm on Tuesdays (and Sundays if the Museum is not fully open). There are often additional opening times for the public -- see the website or the iPhone app for updates. Educational and corporate groups are very welcome and possible on any day or evening by prior arrangement.

For more information, see
follow @tnmoc on Twitter
The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+.
A TNMOC iPhone App is also now available from the iPhone App Store.

Media Contacts
Stephen Fleming
Palam Communications for TNMOC
t +44 (0) 1635 299116

Support us

The Museum has not received government or Lottery funding, so your help is needed.

Become a member »
Make a donation »
Become a volunteer »
Sponsor us »

Latest Tweets Follow