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Atari Video Music – Wikipedia

Atari Video Music – Wikipedia

2023-10-29 12:05:18

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

First digital music visualizer

Atari Video Music

The Atari Video Music

Developer Robert J. Brown
Producer Atari, Inc.
Kind music visualizer
Launch date 1977; 46 years in the past (1977)
Introductory worth $169.95; equal to $821 in 2022
Video output of Atari Video Music, recorded in 2021

The Atari Video Music (Mannequin C240) is the earliest industrial digital music visualizer launched. It was manufactured by Atari, Inc., and launched in 1977[1][2] for $169.95.[3] The system creates an animated visible show that responds to musical enter from a Hi-Fi stereo system for the visible leisure of customers.[4]


A pattern of output (with out sound enter)

By deciphering an enter musical waveform, the Video Music interprets the degrees of musical depth and mellowness into colours and shapes which might be output to a graphical show. The console is connected to an audio supply after which operated by an adhesive-backed swap field that’s glued to the again of a tv show. Audio sign visualizations take the essential type of a two-part diamond. The outer half represents the left audio channel whereas the precise channel is represented by the internal half. Various colours and shapes present all kinds of patterns, designs, and pictures relying on the audio pattern performed.

After the unit is powered on, a toggle swap could also be used to pick out between “TV” (music visualization inactive), and “Sport” (music visualization energetic). When within the “Sport” place, visible knowledge is broadcast on VHF channel 3 by default, however could also be set to channel 4.[5]: 76  In contrast to Atari’s earlier online game methods, the Video Music system’s swap field featured a 75 Ohm pass-through F connector permitting the television antenna or cable to stay connected and thereby eliminating the tiresome means of detaching and reattaching the cable each time the consumer switched from watching regular tv broadcasts to utilizing the visualizer.[6]: 64–66  Any audio supply could also be used for visualization together with Atari’s online game system audio,[5]: 76  and visualizations can both be watched “reside” on a tv display screen or recorded on a VCR by utilizing a balun converter.[6]: 66 

Technical particulars[edit]

The Video Music hooks as much as a TV via an RF switchbox. The opposite hook ups are left and proper RCA jack inputs that hook as much as an audio amplifier’s RCA outputs. The face is a brushed metal plate and the perimeters are particle board with walnut veneer. The unit is turned on by pushing an influence button, and visualization is managed by 5 potentiometer knobs and 12 extra push-buttons.[5]: 76 

The knob controls are as follows:[6]: 66–67 

  • Acquire: Two knobs controlling the left and proper audio enter indicators power. These improve the scale of the visible sample.
  • Colour: One knob controlling colour. This will increase the variety of accessible colours from a strong colour to a rainbow of colours.
  • Contour: Two knobs controlling the left and proper audio enter indicators visible representations shapes from smooth to geometric. These act to melt shapes or improve geometric complexity of the design.

The push button controls are as follows:[6]: 67 

See Also

  • Energy: Turns unit on and off.
  • Form (strong): Any Form or Picture that’s displayed shall be strong
  • Form (gap): One stereo channel controls the surface with a gap within the heart managed by the opposite stereo channel.
  • Form (ring): Each stereo channels will characterize two define shapes that retain their thickness with the heart beat of the music
  • Form (auto): The system mechanically cycles at random between the totally different Form settings in addition to the following eight buttons:
  • Horizontal 1: Shows one generated picture.
  • Horizontal 2: Shows two horizontal generated photographs
  • Horizontal 3: Shows three horizontal generated photographs
  • Horizontal 5: Shows 5 horizontal generated photographs
  • Vertical 1: Shows one generated picture
  • Vertical 2: Shows two vertical generated photographs
  • Vertical 4: Shows 4 vertical generated photographs
  • Vertical 8: Shows eight vertical generated photographs

The final 4 buttons have an auxiliary operate when the “Auto” button is pushed. On this mode, three of those buttons characterize Strong, Gap and Ring. When the unit is in auto, it should retain the form of a type of three shapes. The fourth button is “Auto All”. This sends the unit into semi-automatic mode, biking via form, horizontal and vertical choices however not affecting the user-set achieve, colour or contour settings.[6]: 67 

Improvement historical past[edit]

Developed below the codename Challenge Temper, the Video Music unit was designed by Robert Brown,[7] a developer of the house model of Pong. In response to Atari design engineer, Al Alcorn, when Atari was on tour selling the system, a Sears consultant requested what the builders have been smoking after they invented it. With that, a technician stepped ahead holding up a lit joint.[8]

In March 1978, the unit was described in a patent below the title “Audio activated video show”.[7] It’s thought-about to have been commercially unsuccessful and manufacturing was discontinued after just one yr in the marketplace.[citation needed]


The Video Music system was reviewed in Video journal as a part of a particular “VideoTest Report” in 1978. The reviewers gave it gentle however optimistic protection, describing it as “a well-constructed machine and an fascinating element for use as an adjunct to stereo sound,” however warning that “as soon as the novelty wears off the show can develop into considerably monotonous.” The identical report beneficial it for “those that discover it enjoyable, stimulating, or therapeutic to look at psychedelic displays.”[6]: 67 

Look in common tradition[edit]

  • Devo used a Video Music display screen as a background within the video for “The Day My Child Gave Me a Shock”. It seems once more, linked to a vocoder, within the music video for “Stunning World”.
  • Daft Punk used a display screen of their video “Robotic Rock”.[citation needed]
  • The diamond sample visuals from Video Music might be seen in a number of scenes from the 1979 film Over the Edge the place the mute character Johnny watches the visuals in his bed room.
  • The diamond sample visuals from Video Music appeared in an episode of The X-Files (Season 1 Episode 7, “Ghost in the Machine“) as a part of a video surveillance system.[citation needed]

See additionally[edit]


  1. ^ Tape/Audio/Video:High Technology Hits CES Audio Scene, Web page 52, 29 Jan 1977, Billboard, Atari, … premiered Video Music,….Anticipated to retail for below $200…
  2. ^ Techmoan (2017-04-26), RetroTech: Atari Video Music – The Migraine Machine, archived from the unique on 2021-12-15, retrieved 2017-04-26
  3. ^ “ATARI Inc.; Enterprise Is Enjoyable (the whole historical past of Atari)” Quantity 1, by Marty Goldberg and Curt Vendel
  4. ^ The Atari Video Music is a trippy, psychedelic rarity from the 1970s, By Benj Edwards, 2016-01-28, PCWorld
  5. ^ a b c Kaplan, Deeny, ed. (Winter 1978). “Video Music”. Video (Purchaser’s Information). Vol. 1, no. 1. Reese Communications. pp. 74–77. ISSN 0147-8907.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Kaplan, Deeny, ed. (Summer time 1978). “VideoTest Report Quantity 7: Atari’s Video Music”. Video. Vol. 1, no. 2. Reese Communications. pp. 64–67. ISSN 0147-8907.
  7. ^ a b US 4081829, Brown, Robert J., “Audio activated video show”, printed 1978-03-28, assigned to Atari Inc. , Summary:An interface unit for offering visible colour show of objects on an unaltered TV receiver that are immediately related to the music on an audio supply. Audio vitality is derived from separate channels of a stereo system. This audio info is introduced on the display screen within the type of objects in varied preparations. Colour is derived based mostly on the zero crossing charge of every channel. Every channel has its personal colour related to it. Objects could also be strong, or rings, or one could also be “subtracted” one from the opposite. If desired, the totally different arrays could also be chosen mechanically in a random method. A spectral colour modulator utilizing section shifted methods is integrated.
  8. ^ Bloom, Steve. “The incredible, incredible story of Atari — from a $500 lark to a $2 billion business in 10 short years“. Landley.internet reprint accessed 28 April 2015.

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