It is 104 years since the First War began, this month – and a century, this year, since it ended. The nations involved in it had all variously been involved in longer wars before. And the main combatants fought a longer war later: the Second World War, which pitted the same major nations against each … More Echoes of the guns of August – why we remember the First World War so poignantly
Back in the 1950s the British rocket programme – revolving partly about their ‘Blue Steel’ missile – was in a bit of trouble. This Mach = 3 stand-off weapon was designed to arm Britain’s V-bombers but had a repute as the ‘public servant’ of missiles. You know, it didn’t work and couldn’t be fired. This … More I want some British MUSTARD with my rocket
I tried to buy a piece of tech gear the other day. I didn’t know whether it would do one or two things that I needed – the online documentation wasn’t clear. But I was sure the tech shop I went to could help. The discussion (with a certain amount of hyperbole) went something like … More How to buy technological gadgets, Part 486
When I was a kid I was deeply impressed by a music video shot in a snow-bound Montreal Olympic stadium. It was the British super-group ‘Emerson, Lake and Palmer’, performing their version of Aaron Copland’s ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’, which was basically his three-minute piece split by a six-minute solo section of their own. … More Fanfare for the common transistor
We’re in the middle of yet another revival of 3d movies at the moment – and I can’t help thinking they look a bit rubbish as 3d. Just like they did the first time round, over 60 years ago. Back in the 1950s, TV was going to kill the movies stone dead. Yup, movies were … More So this is why 3D movies never take off
These past few months I’ve been getting my collection of vintage synthesisers going. I’ve got a lot of work to do. So far I’ve tested my 1976-vintage Micromoog s/n 2177 – which I picked up for $50 in 1988. This still works but the particle-board base that holds everything together has crumbled, which means I’ll … More Switching on – well, it’s not really Bach…
These days synthesisers are amazing instruments, often using technologies derived from computing – or existing only as software with the only hardware being a separate keyboard controller. That wasn’t always so. The commercial synths of the 1960s were built around analog hardware that played just one note at a time, like a wind instrument. By … More When was the first fully polyphonic synthesiser released?