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Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2000

Oct 14, 2014




::: A Chronology of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2009 :::

A Chronology / History of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2011

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Last updated 20 October 2010 This page is currently being maintained. Please send suggestions and corrections to a subject of 'Chronology' gets my attention.

Copyright 2008-2011* Paul Doornbusch. This is a somewhat extended and updated version based on the same item originally published in The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music late in 2009. When attempting such a chronology or timeline, even one such as this which mostly ignores the commercial music world, it quickly becomes apparent that there is so much activity that it will necessarily be incomplete. It is impossible to list all of the events which have taken place in any locale or time. Given these limitations, perhaps this is still of some limited use as some sort of chronological overview of computer music research and related events, and I welcome suggestions for updates. In general, earlier events are included with somwhat less detail as the focus for this chronology is on later events. Additionally, this concentrates on computer music and includes fewer details of analog electronic music than a comprehensive chronology of analog electronic music might. Please see the references for a more detailed treatment of earlier events and analog electronic music (note 1). Year < 1900 Selected Significant Musical Events Main Technological Events Cylinder and disk recordings are common, as is the telephone. Moving pictures exist, but not with sound. Electronic / Computer Music Events (1 of 69)2/22/2012 6:16:13 AM

::: A Chronology of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2009 :::

1906 First public performances of Thaddeus Cahill's Dynamophone, also known as the Telharmonium (developed in 1897).

J. L. Baird creates the first working (electromechanical) television. Frank Conrad makes the first radio broadcast of audio. Lee De Forest develops the Triode (thermionic valve) or Audion tube, the first vacuum tube, which brought with it electronic amplification. Sigmund Freud's theories of the unconscious and psychoanalysis gain recognition. Albert Einstein publishes the Special Theory of Relativity. Magnetic wire recorders, invented in the 1890s by Valdemar Poulsen, are common but not of high sound quality. The first optical film sound systems emerge. Max Planck's quantum theory gains acceptance (published in 1900). Victor Talking Machine Company releases the (popular) Victrola gramophone and Enrico (2 of 69)2/22/2012 6:16:13 AM

::: A Chronology of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2009 :::

Caruso is recorded. 1907 Bakelite is invented. Ferruccio Busoni publishes Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music, influencing his students Percy Grainger, Luigi Russolo and Edgard Varse.


Disk records, invented and Futurism movement founded by Filippo produced by Emile Berliner become the more Tommaso Marinetti. popular format than Edison's cylinder records. AT&T announces a national tephone system plan.


Titanic sinks, and through morse code becomes the first real-time global news event. Ford assembly line produces the Model T. Kinetophone is introduced, to attempt synchronisation of film with a cylinder record. The Art of Noises (futurist manifesto) by Luigi Russolo is published.


1914 Luigi Russolo and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti give the first concert of Futurist music, complete with 'intonarumori' (acoustic noise generators) in Milan.

Panama Canal opens. World War I starts (ends in 1918). (3 of 69)2/22/2012 6:16:13 AM

::: A Chronology of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2009 :::


Edwin Armstrong and Lee De Forest separately invent an electronic oscillator with the Audio tube.

Lev Termen (Lon Theremin) starts developing the Aetherophone (later Theremin), the first electronic instrument with a unique performance technique.

1920 Stephan Wolpe uses eight gramophones at different speeds in a Dada performance.

Albert Einstein becomes famous for correctly predicting the bending of light by the sun in his General Theory of Relativity of 1916. Darius Milhaud experiments with record manipulation to create music. Rice and Kellog, of General Electric, develop the modern "dynamic" or "moving-coil" loudspeaker, although mechanical and other electrical speaker systems existed earlier. Lev Termen (Lon Theremin) completes the Aetherophone (later named the Theremin).


1924 Ottorino Respighi composes Pini di Roma (for large orchestra and gramophone). George Antheil composes Ballet Mcanique (premiered 1926) in Paris, with the filmmaker and artist Fernand Lger (for player pianos, airplane propellers, percussion and electric bells - with the mechanised instruments providing the "ballet"). (4 of 69)2/22/2012 6:16:13 AM

::: A Chronology of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2009 :::

1928 Fritz Walter Bischoff composes Hallo! Hier Welle Erdball! (optical film playback) using optical recording facilities.

First recordings made specifically for radio broadcast. Magnetic tape recorder developed by Fritz Pfleumer in Germany, it used iron oxide on paper tape. First Neuman microphone, the CMV3 bottle condenser microphone. Harry Nyquist develops analog signal sampling theory. Quantum physics replaces Newtonian physics at the atomic scale. Synchronized sound (often from disks) with films is now common.

Ren Bertrand developes the Dynaphone, a dial operated vacuum tube oscillator instrument. Paul Hindemith and Ernst Toch experiment with electronically generated sounds at the Hochschule fr Musik in Berlin which took an early decision to facilitate a research program in the manipulation of phonograph records. Maurice Martenot builds the Ondes Martenot (first called the Ondes Musicales).

1929 Paul Hindemith and Ernst Toch compose three recorded studies titled Grammophonmusik, but they have been lost. Arseny Mikhaylovich Avraamov and Yevgeny Sholpo draw directly onto optical film using an ink pen to synthesize sounds.

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) starts broadcasting. Edwin Hubble discovers galaxies and red shift, confirming expandinguniverse theory. The phonograph (cylinder) division of the Thomas Edison company closes and Victor Talking Machine Company is purchased by the Radio Corporation of America (5 of 69)2/22/2012 6:16:13 AM

::: A Chronology of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2009 :::

(RCA). The stock market crashes, causing the great depression. 1930 G. V. Alexandroff composes A Sentinemtal Romance (optical film playback) using optical recording facilities. Walter Ruttman composes Weekend (optical film playback) using optical recording facilities. 1931 Jack Ellit composes Journey #1 (for optical film playback) using optical recording facilities. Rouben Mamoulians film Jeckyll and Hyde uses electroacoustic montage moments in the soundtrack. Edgard Varse composes Ionisation (for percussion). Dziga Vertov composes Enthusiasm (optical film playback) using optical recording facilities. Lon Theremin completes the Rhythmicon for Henry Cowell who commissioned it - a machine to play musical rhythms with the same relationships as the Columbia introduce the first 'long playing' record, a overtone series. 12 inch disk with a rotation of 33 1/3 RPM. Alan Blumlein receives a patent for 'stereo' sound recording and reproduction. Empire State building opens. First radio telescope built by Bell Labs. Friedrich Trautwein completes the Trautonium. (6 of 69)2/22/2012 6:16:13 AM

::: A Chronology of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2009 :::

1932 Clara Rockmore performs on the Theremin in concerts worldwide.

Bell Labs records in stereo using a special disk cutter built with two, stacked, turntables and disks keyed with another hole near the centre to maintain synchronization. First magnetic tape recorders developed by Allegemeine Elektrizitats Gesellschaft (AEG) in Germany, called the Magnetophon, but performance was poorer than the wire recorders of the day.

Yevgeny Alexandrovitch Sholpo develops the Variophone, using sound waves drawn onto transparent 35mm film to control the generation of sounds via photo-electric cells. Bauhaus artists Lszl Moholy-Nagy, Oskar Fischinger and Paul Arma experiment with modifying the physical contents of record grooves.

1933 Max Steiner uses a theremin for dramatic effect in the film King Kong.

EMI, using Blumlein's stereo patents, cut a stereophonic master disk with both channels in one groove at 90 degrees apart. Laurens Hammond develops the Hammond Electric Organ.

Edgard Varse writes to both the Guggenhaim foundation and Bell Labs attempting, unsuccessfully, to secure funding for an electronic music studio.



Percy Grainger and Edgard Varse separately experiment with record manipulation to create music. Edgard Varse publishes his manifesto, The Liberation of Sound. (7 of 69)2/22/2012 6:16:13 AM

::: A Chronology of Electronic and Computer Music and Related Events 1906 - 2009 :::

1937 War of the Worlds (radio drama) was directed by Orson Welles and deceives its audience that a Martian invasion had begun.

First radio telescope dish antenna built by amateur astronomer Grote R