Thanks Bob Gelman for this beautifully preserved SX-64. You can jump right to the photos of the SX-64 here or read Bob's story behind this machine below.
At age five, my father gave me a huge shortwave radio, a gift that was my first window to far-flung languages and cultures. When I was nine, we were the first on our block to have a color television set. At twelve, he brought home a huge box that was what we've come to know as the original "cassette recorder," (supplanting the reel-to-reel audio tape machines). This is just a clue as to how he earned the nickname, "Mr. Gizmo" and how I developed a love of certain consumer electronic technologies.
He had only a high school diploma and an electronics education gleaned from the U.S.Air Force during WWII. But he not only loved playing with these gizmos, he could build them, fix them, and demonstrate them with a passion that seems to have been passed on to me.
Visiting my Los Angeles home in 1984, he pulled a briefcase sized device out of his trunk and set it up on my dining room table. He plugged it in to the 110 VAC and then he pulled the cord out of my telephone and plugged that into it. In a few minutes, I was watching him chat in realtime online with others like him who subscribed to something called "Quantum Link." This early online service is widely known to have evolved into what is today America Online. It was my first exposure to digital networks. My life was immediately and forever changed.
Sidney died a couple of years later, and the fateful net terminal came into my possession. I was more than ready to push its capabilities. I had been learning about MIDI as a way of controlling a number of digital musical instruments (I owned and operated an independent record label at that time), and I was anxious to bring my ideas to fruition. As a drummer, I had previously relied on others to play the melodic parts. With the Commodore 64, Steinberg 24 MIDI sequencing software, and a crude MIDI interface (shown in images 13 and 14), I was playing multiple drum and keyboard parts along with my live (acoustic) drums which were equipped with piezo-electric triggers. These triggers acted as switches which played notes on other MIDI channels mapped through the sequencer. I was a one-man band.
That year, I was invited to perform at the SIGGRAPH show which was being held in Anaheim, California. In collaboration with visual artist/technologist Ed Tannenbaum and dancer/innovator Marci Javril, we presented one of the first live interactive performances in which realtime digital effects were produced and displayed via projector-and-screen, while live and recorded music and improvisational movement all jammed together. It was awesome, at least by the standards of the day. Ed has gone on to be a well-known artist-in-residence at the San Francisco Exploratorium, and he and Marci toured the world over several years and various versions of the system described above.
Through years of use at home and on the road, the SX-64 continued to be my faithful servant, rarely crashing and always performing beyond its specs. Pretty amazing actually, for a little box with no hard drive and only 64k of RAM!
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