the world’s first synthesizer was a warehouse of electromagnetic pickups next to large gears spinning at high speed, with different gear frequencies. you could listen to it by calling a phone number. the electric amplifier had not been invented yet, so making everything bigger was they only way they knew to get enough power for all those phones over that distance.
i wonder how many things we might be doing today at a stupid scale in a stupid way, waiting for the right invention

@zens many thanks! In return, another what-if of tech history...

In wartime Germany, television was administrated by the post office. Two way television booths existed in different locations. The olympics and dancers and music were broadcast... and exactly zero speeches by any politician. A whole other consideration of what television was.

And: John Baird invented mechanical television in 1927, with video recordings on disks not long after. The first years of UK television were mechanical.

@zens Hah to be fair I didn't either, but when I saw "worlds first synth" and warehouse-sized it triggered enough of a memory to search those phrases.

I would love to read a book specifically about the impact of the history of miniaturization of electronics and computing in the context of audio synthesis.

@grumpysmiffy yes, same principle, except the hammond has an amplifier in it

@zens @grumpysmiffy

variations on this device were widely used within the telephone network itself for most of the 20th century to generate various call progress tones heard when making a call such as proceed (dial) tone, ringback, engaged, equipment engaged/reorder etc - the electromechanical ringing machine (which also generated ringing voltage and timing signals for other equipment) was around until the late 1990s in most countries..

@vfrmedia @zens I have (somewhere) an optical version of this. Patterned disc, lamp, photocell (tube) and a motor to spin it. If I had an idea of what voltage the motor takes, I might try to get it working.

@zens > i wonder how many things we might be doing today at a stupid scale in a stupid way, waiting for the right invention

Basically every power supply / voltage converter with a transformer
@feld @zens well we don't really do linear power supplies these days do we? switching supplies have a transformer but it's tiny.
@feld @zens there are even transfomerless designs these days.

@zens another system with scalability issues of the early electrical age: the Stockholm Telephone Tower!

@zens As someone who works for a cloud company: "everything"

@zens one day we'll fit an entire computer on a microchip and laugh our asses off at clunky giant 2000s computers

@colabunny imagine: an entire portable computer in your pocket. the entire phonebook and encyclopedia at your fingertips.

@zens I don't really have to I'm using a phone to post this

@colabunny haha so you’re using a dictation service? nice!

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Merveilles is a community project aimed at the establishment of new ways of speaking, seeing and organizing information — A culture that seeks augmentation through the arts of engineering and design. A warm welcome to any like-minded people who feel these ideals resonate with them.