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date: 15 July 2020

(p. 557) Appendix: A Chronology of Computer Music and Related Events

(p. 557) Appendix: A Chronology of Computer Music and Related Events

Pre-1980 events are included with less detail as the focus for this volume is on later events. In addition, this concentrates on computer music and includes only those details of analog electronic music as are important for computer music or to set a context. Please see the references for a more detailed treatment of earlier events and of analog electronic music.1

Acknowledgments: Many colleagues and friends have assisted in this chronology; they include Clarence Barlow, Natasha Barrett, Richard Barrett, Paul Berg, Phil Burke, Max Burnet, Warren Burt, Nicolas Collins, Perry Cook, Nick Didkovsky, Richard Dudas, Tom Erbe, Ricardo Dal Farra, Kelly Fitz, Adrian Freed, Christian Haines, Paul Lansky, alcides lanza, Mats Lindström, Cort Lippe, Jean Piché, Larry Polansky, Miller Puckette, Curtis Roads. Jo Scherpenisse, Andrew Sorensen, Ken Steiglitz, Kees Tazelaar, Peter Thorne, Matt Wright, David Zicarelli, and the editor of this publication, Roger Dean—my gratitude and many thanks to everyone for helping to make this as complete and accurate as possible.

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Computer Music Chronology, 1939–2009


Selected significant musical events

Main technological events

Computer music events


John Cage performs Imaginary Landscape No. 1, the first performance to include live electronics.2


High-quality, stereo, magnetic tape recorder.3


Grainger-Cross Free Music Machine (graphical, optical control of synthesis) developed by Percy Grainger and Burnett Cross.


German, high-quality, tape recorder technology spreads to the rest of Europe and the United States.


Bell Labs develops the solid-state transistor.

Hugh Le Caine begins developing the Electronic Sackbut electronic instrument.


Pierre Schaeffer creates Étude aux chemins de fer, the first piece of musique concrète.4

Manchester Mark 1 (Baby)—first stored-program computer.

Harry Chamberlin builds tape-playback instrument, a precursor of the modern sampler.

Music for Magnetic Tape project created by Louis and Bebe Baron in New York.

Norman McLaren painstakingly draws optical waveforms on film soundtracks.


John Cage starts working on Williams Mix (for multichannel tape).

Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry compose Symphonie pour un homme seul (for spatialized playback of multiple analog disks).

CSIRAC (0.0005 MIPS5) plays in real-time some standard, popular, tunes of the day—the first computer to play music.6

Ferranti Mark I computer plays music (popular melodies) and is recorded by the BBC—the oldest surviving recording of a computer playing music.

Groupe de Recherches de Musique Concrète (GRMC) founded at the RTF, Paris.

Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) founded in Tokyo by Joji Yuasa, Toru Takemitsu, and other composers and artists.

WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk—West German Radio) studio founded in Köln, Germany.


Karlheinz Stockhausen composes Studie I.

IBM 701 shipped (its first large computer based on vacuum tubes) and its first magnetic tape device.

Les Paul commissions Ampex to build an eight-track tape recorder.

GRM organizes a festival of mostly electronic music, named the First International Ten Days of Experimental Music, at UNESCO, Paris.


Mauricio Kagel uses sounds and tape as part of his sonorization for an industrial exhibition in Mendoza.

Karlheinz Stockhausen composes Studie II.

IBM 704 introduced with the first IBM operating system.

IBM completes the specification for the first high-level computer language, FORTRAN (FORmula TRANslation).

NHK studio established in Tokyo, Japan.


Toshiro Mayuzumi composes Music for Sine Waves by Proportion of Prime Numbers, Music for Modulated Waves by Proportion of Prime Numbers, and Invention for Square Waves and Sawtooth Waves (all for tape).

Edgar Varese's Deserts (for wind, percussion, and tape) is premiered.

Iannis Xenakis premieres Metastasis (for orchestra).

Iannis Xenakis publishes The Crisis of Serial Music, criticizing serial composition.

Ampex releases the first commercial eight-track tape recorder.

Hugh Le Caine builds the Special Purpose Tape Recorder, a multitape playback instrument, a precursor of the sampler; it had six tapes, later expanded to ten.

Columbia University Electronic Music Center established by Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky.

Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson start work on the Illiac Suite—first computer composition experiments.

NKH Electronic Studio is founded in Tokyo by Toshio Myuzumi.

Studio di Fonologia Musicale of the RAI in Milan is founded by Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna.


Louis and Bebe Baron produce Forbidden Planet (tape, for film).

Karlheinz Stockhausen completes Gesang der Junglinge (for five-track tape, later reduced to four tracks).

Ampex releases the first commercial videocassette recorder.

IBM 704 mainframe released (0.0064 MIPS).

The Centre for Electronic Music is established at the Philips Research Laboratories.


Kid Baltan composes Song of the Second Moon (for tape).

G. M. Koenig composes Essay (for tape).

Karlheinz Stockhausen premieres Gruppen (for three orchestras).

Iannis Xenakis premieres Pithoprakta (for orchestra)

IBM introduces the first compiler for FORTRAN.

Columbia University receives the RCA Mark II Synthesizer (with digital control of analog synthesis).

Max Mathews writes MUSIC I—first computer sound synthesis program.

Lejaren Hiller and Leonard Isaacson complete the Illiac Suite.

Taller Experimental de Sonido (Experimental Sound Workshop) established at the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile.


José Vicente Asuar composes Variaciones Espectrales (for tape).

Luciano Berio composes Thema—omaggio a Joyce (for tape) and Sequenza I (for flute).

Film Forbidden Planet is released with an all-electronic soundtrack.

Philips Pavilion opens in Brussels with Edgar Varese's Poeme electronique (for tape) and Iannis Xenakis's Concrete P.H. (for tape).

Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) founded.

First integrated circuits developed at Texas Instruments.

LISP language developed.

BBC Radiophonic Workshop founded by Daphne Oram and Desmond Briscoe.

Mostly famous for the electronic sounds in television shows such as Doctor Who.

Cooperative Studio for Electronic Music is privately established at Ann Arbor, Michigan, by Robert Ashley and Gordon Mumma.

Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center founded.

Toru Takemitsu composes Dialogue (for tape).

Vladimir Ussachevsky composes Linear Contrasts (for tape).

Estudio de Fonologia Musical of the University of Buenos Aires founded.

Studio Fur Elektronische Musik founded in Munich by Siemens AG.

University o f Illinois Electronic Music Studio founded.

Jose Vicente Asuar founds the Electronic Music Studio in Chile.


Luciano Berio completes Visage (for tape) and Momenti (for four-track tape).

John Cage completes Cartridge Music (for amplified small sounds).

Luigi Nono composes Omaggio a Emilio Vedova (for four-track tape).

Karlheinz Stockhausen completes Kontakte (two versions; for electronic sounds and sound projection and for electronic sounds, piano, and percussion).

Vladimir Ussachevsky composes Wireless Fantasy (for tape).

AT&T announces its Dataphone, the first commercial modem.

IBM 7090 ships (fully transistorized mainframe).

Studio voor elektronische muziek (STEM) is founded in Utrecht University with the gift of the Philips studio.

Raymond Scott developes the Electronium analog composition machine.

University of Toronto Electronic Studios opened.


Merce Cunningham premieres Aeon (ballet) with music by John Cage.

Gyorgy Ligeti's Atmospheres is premiered (for orchestra).

Max Mathews composes The Second Law (for computer synthesized tape), a study using pitched and unpitched noises for the first time.

The first industrial robot, UNIMATE, began work at General Motors.

Israel Center for Electronic Music opens at the Hebrew University, founded by Joseph Tal.

Max Mathews uses physical modeling synthesis in MUSIC to create Daisy Bell (a.k.a. Bicycle Built for Two) vocal synthesis on an IBM 704.

Robert Moog and Herbert Deutsch develop an analog

James Tenney composes Analog #1: Noise Study using computer synthesized noise.

Horacio Vaggione composes Ensayo sobre mezcla de sonidos, Cemeronia, and Cantata I (for tape).


James Tenney, a recognized composer, joins Bell Labs to work with Max Mathews.


G. M. Koenig composes Terminus 1 (for tape).

Luigi Nono composes Djamila Boupacha (for soloists and orchestra).

Iannis Xenakis completes the ST series of works (for string quartet, ensemble, and orchestra) using his stochastic composition computer program.

Iannis Xenakis completes Bohor (for eight-track tape).

Students at MIT develop the first interactive computer game, SpaceWar.

James Tenney writes the PF2 program, used to write his Four Stochastic Studies.

Iannis Xenakis completes a program for stochastic music composition on an IBM 7090.


Pierre Henry composes Variations pour Une Porte et Un Soupir.

Toru Takemitsu composes Arc (for piano, orchestra, and electronic sounds).

Compact Cassette (analog tape format) introduced by Philips.


Milton Babbitt completes Philomel (for soprano and tape).

Luigi Nono composes La fabbrica illuminata (for voice and tape).

Giacinto Scelsi composes String Quartet No. 4 (for string quartet and electronics).

La Monte Young completes A Well Tuned Piano (for just-intuned solo piano).

Karlheinz Stockhausen composes Mikrophonie I (for instruments and live electronics).

ASCII standard introduced.

BASIC computer language is developed at Dartmouth College.

First computer mouse is prototyped after being invented the previous year by Douglas Engelbart.

IBM introduces the System/360.

G. M. Koenig takes over STEM in Utrecht (with Frank de Vries), giving it a new direction, and writes Project 1, for aleatoric serial composition.

Laboratory of the Centro Latinoamericano de Altos Estudios Musicales (CLAEM) oftheDiTella Institute, Argentina, is founded by Alberto Ginastera.

McGill University Electronic Music Studio (EMS) founded in Montreal by Istviin Anhalt.

Stockholm Elektron Musik Studion (EMS) is founded.

Robert Moog and Don Buchla separately release modular analog synthesizers.


Mario Davidovsky composes Electronic Study No. 3, In Memoriam Edgar Varese (for tape).

Steve Reich composes It's Gonna Rain (for tape).

Karlheinz Stockhausen composes Solo (for melody instrument and feedback loop).

DEC PDP-8 released.

Dolby A noise reduction system introduced.

Hi-Fi equipment commercially released.


Dave Behrman completes Wave Train (piano resonance with feedback).

Luciano Berio completes Sequenza III (for female voice).

Herbert Bran composes Non Sequitier VI (for tape).

Luigi Nono completes A floresta e jovem e cheja de vida (for soprano, three recitants, clarinet, copper plates, and eight-track tape).

Karlheinz Stockhausen completes Hymnen (for four-track tape).

Iannis Xenakis completes Terretektorh (for large orchestra spread out inspace).

E-mail applications arrive for users on closed, proprietary, networks.

Center for Electronic and Computer Music (CECM) established in Paris and at Indiana University, by Iannis Xenakis.

Electronic Music Studio founded at Victoria University in Wellington.

Estudio de Fonologia Musical of Instituto Nacional de Cultura y Bellas Artes (INCIBA) founded in Venezuela.

G. M. Koenig writes Project 2, allowing greater control over the composition process.


Iannis Xenakis completes Polytope de Montreal (for four small orchestras and show for Expo 67).

Hugh Le Caine builds the Serial Sound Structure Generator, a complex analog sequencer for serial music.

Electronic Music Studio founded at the Royal College of Music, London, by Tristram Cary.

STEM at Utrecht University changes its name to the Institute of Sonology.

STEIM is formed in Amsterdam. (continued)


Robert Ashley completes Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon (for tape).

John Cage and Lejaren Hiller compose HPSCHD (for up to seven harpsichords and up to fifty-one tapes).

Wendy Carlos releases Switched on Bach (record).

Luigi Nono composes Contrappunto dialettico alia mente (for tape).

Karlheinz Stockhausen completes Stimmung (for six amplified vocalists).

Leonardo Journal of the Arts, Science, and Technology first published.

MUSIC V released and written in FORTRAN so it is ported to many computers.

Jean-Claude Risset at Bell Labs creates a catalog of sound synthesis with MUSIC V instruments.

Lejaren Hiller joins the Computer Music Studios in the University at Buffalo (State University of New York).


Luciano Berio composes Sinfonia (for eight amplified voices and orchestra).

Toshi Ichiyanagi composes Tokyo (for tape).

G. M. Koenig composes Funktion Blau, Funktion Indigo, Funktion Violett, Funktion Grau (for tape).

Bruno Maderna composes Quadrivium (forpercussion quartet and orchestra).

Iannis Xenakis composes Kraanerg (dance work for orchestra and four track tape).

First ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) links between the University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah and also including the (private) Stanford Research Institute.

First of the DEC PDP-15 family released.

Digital tape-recording experiments begin.

RS232 serial communication standard developed.

UNIX developed.

CEMS (Coordinated Electronic Music Studio) system installed in the Electronic Music Studio at the State University of New York at Albany.

Electronic Music Studio established at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

Max Mathews builds the GROOVE synthesizer, the first digital control of analog synthesis.

Peter Zinovieff uses a PDP-8 to control analog synthesis in MUSYS III.


Cesar Bolauos composes Sialoecibi (for piano and one reciter-mime-actor), and Canaan sin palabras (for piano with two performers and tape).

Mario Davidovsky composes Synchronisms No. 6 (for piano and tape) and is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1971.

ARPANET expands with more connected locations.

First of the DEC PDP-11 family released.

The first version of the UNIX operating system runs on a DEC PDP-7.

Lexicon releases the first digital delay unit.

Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) is founded and planning started.

Electronic Music Lab established at Mexico's National Conservatory of Music.

Princeton “Underground Laboratory” Electronic

Charles Dodge completes Earth's Magnetic Field (for tape), mapping data into musical parameters.

Kraftwerk emerges as the first fully electronic pop band.

Alvin Lucier completes I Am Sitting in a Room (for tape).

Iannis Xenakis completes Hibiki-Hana -Ma (for twelve-track tape).

Music Studio established by Godfrey Winham and Ken Steiglitz.


Emmanuel Ghent completes Phosphones (for tape, on GROOVE).

Karlheinz Stockhausen completes Mantra (for two pianists, sine wave generators, ring modulators, and tape).

Iannis Xenakis completes Persepolis (for eight-track tape).

C computer language is developed by Kernighan and Ritchie of Bell Laboratories.

DEC PDP-11/ 45 released (0.76 MIPS).

Denon demonstrates 18-bit PCM (pulse code modulation) digital stereo recording with a video recorder.

First microprocessor is developed, the Intel 4004.

Electronic Music Studio at the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem founded by Tzvi Avni.

SSP (sound synthesis program) implemented by Koenig for real-time digital instruction synthesis.

University of Natal, Durban, South Africa Electronic Music Studio opens.

Barry Vercoe ports MUSIC 360 (a derivative of MUSIC IV) to the PDP-11 and improves it, creating MUSIC 11.


Charles Dodge completes Speech Songs (for computer synthesized tape).

György Ligeti composes Double Concerto (for flute, oboe, and orchestra).

Iannis Xenakis completes Polytope de Cluny (for eight-track tape with a computer-controll ed light show), and it opens in Paris.

ARPANET widely introduced.

First e-mail is sent and an open e-mail application demonstrated.

IBM introduces the 8-inch floppy disk.

Intel 8008 introduced, first commercial 8-bit microprocessor.

Barry Truax develops POD4 and POD5 (fixed-waveform synthesis) for the PDP-15 at the Institute of Sonology.

Centre dʼEtudes de Mathematiques et Automatiques Musicales (CEMAMu), is founded near Paris by Iannis Xenakis.

Centro de Investigaciones en Communication Massiva, Artes y Technologia (CICMAT) established in Buenos Aires from CLAEM studio.

Herbert Brün starts work on the SAWDUST stochastic synthesis software.


David Tudor creates Rainforest IV (for spatially mixed live sounds of suspended sculptures and found objects).

Ethernet developed at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

First ARPANET connection to Europe.

Part of UNIX is rewritten in the C language.

Estudio de Fonologia Musical of Instituto Nacional de Cultura y Bellas Artes (INCIBA) re-established in Venezuela.

Gmebaphone (tape music spatialization system) created at GMEB, Bourges, France.

W. Kaegi and Stan Templaars develop VOSIM synthesis at Sonology.

Barry Truax develops POD6 for real-time digital FM synthesis.

MIT Electronic Music Studios (EMS) established, to become part of MIT Media Lab in 1985.

STEIM focuses on electronic music performance with the arrival of Michel Waisvisz.


Pauline Oliveros completes Sonic Meditations (for voices and other sounds).

Giacinto Scelsi composes Aitsi (for electronically prepared piano).

First International Computer Music Conference, Michigan, USA.

X.25 networking common in U.K. universities.

TCP (network protocol) proposed as common network transport, first use of the word “Internet.”

Xerox PARC designs a computer with a mouse.

Mellotron is built, first commercial instrument “sampler” with a keyboard playing loops of analog tape.

Acousmonium (tape music spatialization system) created at GRM, Paris.

Ambisonics (spatial audio reproduction) developed by Michael Gerzon, Peter Fellgett, and Duanne Cooper.

Electronic Music Studio at the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel-Aviv University established by Yizhak Sadai.

Yamaha licenses frequency modulation synthesis from John Chowning.

Curtis Roads implements granular synthesis with MUSIC V.


Milton Babbit completes Phonemena (version for soprano and tape).

Luciano Berio completes Chants parallele (for tape).

Altair 8800 microcomputer released, first mass-produced microcomputer and computer kit.

EMT releases the first digital reverb unit.

Homebrew Computer Club formed in San Francisco.

Micro-Soft (later Microsoft) founded.

MOS Technology (later Commodore) KIM-1 microcomputer released. (0.2 MIPS)

Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) founded at Stanford University.

Electronic Music and Video Studios established at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.

Princeton “Underground Laboratory” becomes the Winham Sound Laboratory.

Synclavier prototype of working all-digital synthesizer.


Luciano Berio composes Coro (for forty voices and orchestra).

Herbert Brün composes Dust (for computer-generated tape).

Brian Ferneyhough completes Time and Motion Study II (for amplified cello, tape delay system, and modulators).

Philip Glass premieres Einstein at the Beach (an opera for ensemble, chorus, and soloists).

Steve Reich composes Music for 18 Musicians (for ensemble and four female voices).

Barry Vercoe composes Synapse (for viola and computer).

Iannis Xenakis composes Psappha (for solo percussion).

Apple Computer Company founded.

Digital Equipment Corporation introduces the DEC VAX ii/78o, a popular minicomputer.

Dave Behrman uses a KIM-1 in performance of On the Other Ocean at Mills College.

Paul Berg develops the PILE synthesis language for real-time instruction synthesis on a PDP-15 at the Institute of Sonology.

Fairlight CMI prototype, Quasar M8, working.

Giuseppe Di Giugno develops the 4A synthesizer at IRCAM.

Jim Horton uses a KIM-1 in performance at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Laurie Spiegel creates the VAMPIRE system for real-time video and sound.


Luc Ferrari completes Presque Rien N°2 (for tape).

György Ligeti composes Le Grand Macabre (opera).

Gareth Loy composes Nekyia (for four-track tape, rendered on the Samson Box).

Alvin Lucier completes Music on a Long Thin Wire (for amplified wire and electromagnetic excitor).

Trevor Wishart completes Red Bird (for tape).

David Wessel composes Anthony (for tape).

Iannis Xenakis completes La Legende d'Eer (for seven-track tape).

Apple II released (0.23 MIPS).

BSD UNIX released.

Commodore PET microcomputer released.

Tandy announces the TRS-80 microcomputer.

The Computer Music Journal is first published in Menlo Park, California.

Digital control of analog studio at the Institute of Sonology.

IRCAM is opened.

George Lewis plays with an improvising KIM-1 at Mills College.

Peter Samson completes the Systems Concepts (Samson Box) digital synthesizer, a MUSIC IV implementation in hardware.

Iannis Xenakis develops functioning UPIC at CEMAMu.


Paul Lansky composes Six Fantasies on a Poem by Thomas Campion (for computer-synthesized tape).

Luigi Nono composes Con Luigi Dallapiccola (for percussion and electronics).

Iannis Xenakis completes Mycenae-Alpha (for tape) on the UPIC and opens Le Diatope in Paris.

Atari 800 microcomputer released.

5.25-inch floppy disks become an industry standard.

Stereo PCM audio adaptors for VCR tape recorders introduced.

TCP splits into TCP/IP, and allows for the creation of UDP (User Datagram Protocol), a network protocol designed low delay and useful for streamed data.

William Buxton has the SSSP software on a PDP-11 controlling sixteen digital oscillators.

Di Giugno completes the 4C synthesizer.

League of Automatic Music Composers formed.

Synclavier enters production.


Robert Ashley completes Automatic Writing (for tape).

Iannis Xenakis completes Pleides (for six percusionists).

CompuServe offers electronic mail to personal computer users.

Motorola 68000 microprocessor introduced.

The International Computer Music Association is founded by Thom Blum, Curtis Roads, and John Strawn.

Fairlight CMI I released.

F. Richard Moore founds the Computer Audio Research Lab at the University of California at San Diego, and also develops the software CMUSIC.


Clarence Barlow completes Çogluotobüsisletmesi (versions for piano and computer rendition).

John Cage composes Roaratorio (for electronic tapes, speaker, and Irish folk musicians).

Charles Dodge composes Any Resemblance Is Purely Coincidental (for piano and tape).

Trevor Wishart completes Anticredos (for six amplified voices and percussion).

EMT releases the first commercial digital hard-disk audio recorder.

Multitrack digital tape recorders introduced.

Sinclair ZX80 microcomputer released.

TCP/IP accepted as superior network protocol for the Internet.

Technics 1200 turntable released and becomes the standard DJ turntable.

FOF formant synthesis developed at IRCAM.

The Computer Music Journal moves to the MIT Press, legitimizing computer music research.


Larry Austin composes Canadian Coastlines: Canonic Fractals for Musicians and Computer Band (for instruments and tape).

Pierre Boulez premieres Répons (for ensemble and live electronics).

Herbert Brün composes i toLD You so! (for computer-generated tape).

Nicolas Collins composes Second State (for microcomputer-controlled feedback).

David Rosenboom completes Departure (for SATB voices).

MTV starts on commercial television.

IBM PC introduced.

First optical storage disk system introduced by Philips.

3.5-inch floppy disks released by Sony.

Electronic Music Studio founded at Seoul National University.

Estúdio da Glória established in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Giuseppe Di Giugno completes the 4X synthesizer.

Yamaha GS1 and GS2 digital synthesizers released.


Nicolas Collins composes Is She/He Really Going Out With Him/Her/Them (for circuits, radios, prepared tapes, and computer controlled mixer).

G.M. Koenig composes 3 ASKO Pieces (for Small orchestra).

Luigi Nono composes Donde estas hermano? (for two sopranos, mezzo- soprano, and contralto) and Quando stanno morendo (for female voices, cello, bass flute, and live electronics)

Dennis Smalley composes Vortex (for tape).

Acorn BBC Micro computer released.

Commodore 64 computer released.

First CD released.

Sony releases the PCM-F1, a consumer adaptor for VCRs for high-quality (CD-quality) stereo digital recording.

Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre (BEAST, tape music spatialization system) is created.

Emu-Emulator commercial sampler synthesizer released.

HMSL (Hierarchical Music Specification Language) music programming language released (for an S-100 computer controlling a Buchla synthesizer).

Laboratorio de Investigatión y Productión Musical (LIPM) established in Buenos Aires from the CICMAT studio.


Jean-Baptiste Barrière composes Chréode (for computer-generated tape).

Francois Bayle composes Le Sommeil d ʼEuclide (for tape).

Luigi Nono composes Omaggio a György Kurtáig (for contralto, flute, clarinet, tuba, and live electronics) and Guai ai gelidi mostri (for two voices, ensemble, and live electronics).

Roger Reynolds completes Archipelago (for large ensemble and eight-channel computer-generated tape).

Jean-Claude Risset composes L ʼautre Face (for soprano and tape).

Karlheinz Stockhausen completes Samstag Aus Licht (opera).

Tamas Ungvary composes Gypsy Children's Giant Dance with Ili Fourier (for ensemble and computer sounds).

ARPANET converts to TCP/IP protocol—the modern Internet backbone is created.

ARPANET splits into MILNET (for military communications) and ARPANET (for civilian applications).

Fiber-optic cable is used for long-distance audio transmission.

First CD players released worldwide.

IBM PC/XT released (0.25 MIPS)

MIDI 1.0 specification released.

First MIDI synthesizers appear.

Yamaha releases DX7 FM synthesizer—first mass-market all-digital synthesizer, with MIDI.


Luciano Berio composes Sequenza X (for trumpet and piano resonance) and Orpheo II (opera for voice, orchestras, and tapes).

Paul Lansky composes Idle Chatter (for computer-synthesized tape).

Mesias Maiguashca composes Fmelodies II (for ensemble and tape).

Luigi Nono composes A Pierre (for contrabass flute, contrabass clarinet, and electronics).

Bernard Parmegiani composes La Creation Du Monde (for tape).

Apple Macintosh released (68000 processor, 0.5 MIPS).

CD-ROM computer storage introduced.

William Gibson's Neuromancer novel is published.

TCP/IP starts spreading to Europe.

Roger Dannenberg and Barry Vercoe demonstrate automatic accompaniment at the ICMC.

Paul Lansky develops Cmix.

Platypus workstation plug-in DSP card completed.

Steinberg releases Pro-16 multitrack MIDI sequencer.

Yamaha releases the CX5M Music Computer (Z80 based), with built-in FM synthesis modules and composition software.

Michel Waisvisz develops The Hands controller.

MIDIForth MIDI composition software released.

Waseda University (Tokyo) designs WABOT-2, a piano playing robot that reads scores.


Lars-Gunnar Bodin composes Anima (for female voice and tape).

Luigi Nono completes Prometeo (for multiple orchestras, two conductors, narrators, spatially placed groups of instrumental and vocal soloists, and live electronic sound distribution).

Pauline Oliveros composes Wanderer (for accordion orchestra).

Jean-Claude Risset composes Sud (for four-track tape).

David Rosenboom completes Zones of Influence (for percussion and electronics).

Kaija Saariaho completes Jardin Secret I (for tape).

Giacinto Scelsi composes String Quartet No.5 from Aitsi (for string quartet and electronics).

Denis Smalley composes Clarinet Threads (for amplified clarinet tape).

Horacio Vaggione completes Thema (for amplified bass saxophone and computer-generated tape).

Atari 520ST released (0.5 MIPS).

Commodore Amiga 1000 computer released (0.5 MIPS).

Digital mixing consoles are released.

Microsoft releases Windows 1.0.

Les Ateliers UPIC is founded near Paris by Iannis Xenakis to promote the research of CEMAMu, especially the UPIC System, and to teach professionals and amateurs alike to use the UPIC.

Barry Vercoe creates Csound from the MUSIC 11 base at MIT.

Kyma environment released for Platypus.

Ensoniq Mirage sampler released.

The Hub computer network ensemble formed.

George Lewis starts work on Voyager for the Macintosh.

Laurie Spiegel develops Music Mouse.

MIT Media Lab is founded.

Electronic music labs established at the Escuela Superior de Música del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA) and at Centro Independiente de Investigacion y Multimedia (CIIM), Mexico.


Richard Karpen composes Eclipse (for computer-created sound).

G. M. Koenig composes

Beitrag (for orchestra).

Trevor Wishart completes Vox 5 (for tape).

Dolby SR noise reduction system introduced.

R-DAT (digital audio tape) specification released and machines released in Japan.

First RISC (reduced instruction set computing) computers introduced by IBM and MIPS.

Akai S900 sampler released and becomes a mass-market sampling module.

Music Box MIDI algorithmic composition software released.

Nicolas Collins creates Trombone Propelled Electronics, trombone-based DSP controller.

Composers Desktop Project (CDP) started with porting CMUSIC to an Atari ST.

The Computer and Electronic Music Studio founded in Beijing by Yuanlin Chen.

FURT electronic music duo forms.

Institute of Sonology moves from Utrecht University to the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, Netherlands.

Miller Puckette develops Patcher at IRCAM to control the 4X.

Music Kit music and DSP programming library released by NeXT Computer.

Soviet Computer Music Centre established in Moscow.

David Zicarelli develops M.


John Adams premieres

Nixon in China (opera).

Robert Ashley completes el/Aficionado (opera for solo voices, chorus, solo piano, and electronics).

Richard Karpen composes 1l Nome (for soprano and computer-created sound).

G. M. Koenig composes String quartet 1987.

Thierry Lancino completes Aloni (for contralto, boys choir, ensemble, and electronics).

Luigi Nono composes Post-prae-ludium no.1 ‘per Donau (for tuba and live electronics).

David Rosenboom completes Systems of Judgement (for computer music systems and various instruments).

Denis Smalley composes Wind Chimes (for tape).

Alejandro Vinao composes Toccata del Maga (for ensemble, samples, and real-time electronics).

Intel 80386 computers released (2 MIPS).

Consumer DAT decks released.

Motorola 68030

microprocessor released.

C-Lab Creator MIDI sequencer released for Atari.

George Lewis completes Voyager software for interactive improvisation.

HMSL music programming language becomes widely available on common computers.

Max Mathews develops the Radio Baton controller.


John Cage composes Europera (opera; for singers, orchestra, and tape).

Mario Davidovsky composes Synchronisms No. 9 (for violin and tape).

Kaija Saariaho composes Petals (for cello with live electronics) and Stilleben (for tape).

ARPANET and 10% of its computers are partly disabled by the first worm “virus,” which flooded the network and computers.

NeXT workstation introduced.

Korg Mi released, first music workstation.

SensorLab (sensor to

MIDI interface) development starts at STEIM and occasional prototypes released.

Wave Field Synthesis (spatial audio reproduction) theory developed at the University of Delft.


Luigi Nono completes La Lontananza Nostalgica Utopica Futura (for solo violin, eight tapes, and ten music stands).

Marco Stroppa composes Traiettoria (for piano and computer-generated tape).

Intel i486 computers released (8.7 MIPS).

Digidesign Sound Accelerator DSP card for Apple Macintosh released.

Opcode Max released.

Digidesign Turbosynth and Sound Tools (first DAW) released.

Steinberg releases Cubase 1.0 graphical MIDI sequencer for Atari.

C-Lab Notator MIDI notation and sequencer released.

Zentrum fur Kunst und Muzik (ZKM) is founded.


Ricardo Dal Farra composes Interacciones (for real-time interactive computer-generat ed sounds and images).

Paul Lansky composes

Night Traffic (for computer-generat ed tape).

Takayuki Rai composes Sparkle (for bass clarinet and tape).

Apple IIfx released (10 MIPS).

Windows 3.0 released, first commercially successful version.

Sony introduces the writeable CD.

Dolby proposes five-channel surround sound for home cinema.

MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (MP3) becomes a standard.

Don Buchla develops the Thunder controller.

Cubase 1.0 sequencer released for Macintosh.

IRCAM ISPW released with MaxFTS.

Graphical Kyma software released for updated DSP hardware called Capybara.

Flute-playing robot project started at Waseda University.

Laboratory for Analysis and Synthesis of Image and Sound (OASIS) founded at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil.

Laboratorio Colombiano de Miisica Electrónica Jacqueline Nova, first founded in the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales, Columbia.


Nicolas Collins creates

Broken Light (for string quartet and modified CD players).

Karel Goeyvaerts composes Aquarius (for instrumental ensemble).

Iannis Xenakis completes GENDY3 (for tape, created solely with dynamic stochastic synthesis).

Alesis ADAT introduced, the first consumer digital multitrack recorder.

Apple releases the QuickTime multimedia format and the influential PowerBook series of laptop computers.

First World Wide Web software released by CERN (Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire), HTTP protocol developed.

Linux project started.

Mac OS 7 released.

Sony MiniDisk released.

Buchla develops the Lightning controller.

Gabinete de Electroaciistica para la Música de Arte (GEMA) founded at the University of Chile.

Laetitia Sonami develops first Lady's Glove.

Leonardo Music Journal first published by MIT Press.

Iannis Xenakis completes GENDYN program for dynamic stochastic synthesis.

Pro Tools 1 DAW released.

Steinberg releases Cubase Audio DAW software.

SoundHack DSP sound manipulation software released.

Symbolic Composer (algorithmic composition software) introduced.


Mario Davidovsky composes Synchronisms No. 10 (for guitar and electronic sounds).

alcides lanza composes vôo (for actress-singer, electroacoustic sounds, and DSP).

Bob Ostertag composes All the Rage (for sting quartet and sounds, transcribed from riot recordings).

Kaija Saariaho composes Amers (for ensemble and live electronics).

Marco Stroppa composes In cielo, in terra, in mare (a radiophonic opera).

Horacio Vaggione composes Kitab (for bass clarinet, piano, contrabass, and computer-process ed and controlled sounds).

First PowerPC processor (601) released.

IBM releases their first ThinkPad laptop computer.

C-Lab programmers form Emagic.

Digital Compact Cassette (digital tape format) introduced by Philips and Matsushita.

Windows 3.1 released.

AC Toolbox (algorithmic composition software) introduced.

Laboratório de Música e Tecnologia (LaMuT) established in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Lemur DSP sound manipulation software released.

SensorLab (sensor to MIDI interface) released by STEIM.


Karlheinz Essl composes Entsagung (for ensemble and live electronics).

Cort Lippe composes Music for Sextet and ISPW (for flute, bass clarinet, trombone, violin, cello, piano, and computer).

Daniel Teruggi composes Sphaera (for tape).

Laptop Music and Noise Music practices emerge from the combination of available technology and application of the tools and aesthetic of computer music to more popular ends.

First graphical Web browser application released, Mosaic (later to become Netscape Navigator).

Emagic Notator Logic MIDI sequencer and DAW released for the Macintosh with Digidesign hardware.

The Center for Electroacoustic Music of China founded in Beijing by Zhang Xiaofu.

Leonardo Electronic Almanac journal first published by MIT Press.

Norwegian Network for Technology, Acoustics, and Music (NOTAM) is founded.

Sensorband forms.

Yamaha releases VL1 and VP1 digital physical modeling synthesizers.


Takayuki Rai composes Kinetic Figuration (for MIDI piano, synthesizer, and computer).

Curtis Roads completes Clang-Tint (for fixed media).

Kaija Saariaho composes Six Japanese Gardens (for percussion and electronics).

David Tudor creates Soundings: Ocean Diary for Merce Cuningham (live electronic sounds for ballet).

Trevor Wishart completes Tongues of Fire (for tape).

Iannis Xenakis completes S.709 (for tape, created solely with dynamic stochastic synthesis).

Apple switches to PowerPC processors.

Netscape Navigator Web browser released.

First modern Web search engine appears, WebCrawler.

First WWW conference and WWW becoming common.

DVD disks and players introduced.

Sun Microsystems releases Java 1.0a computer language.

Yamaha introduces the first consumer digital mixer.

Emagic releases Logic 4 with Audiowerk interface,

making DAW software possible without additional DSP hardware.

IRCAM introduces AudioSculpt DSP sound manipulation software.

Princeton Sound Kitchen formed from the 1970s Winham Lab.


Jean Piche composes The Dangerous Kitchen (for voice and interactive computer system).

David Rosenboom completes On Being Invisible II (for soloist,

brainwaves, and computer-assisted electronic music system).

ARPANET renamed as Internet.

Intel Pentium Pro computers released (400 MIPS).

Internet becomes widely available.

Mac OS 7.5 released.

Nagra introduces a “solid-state” audio recorder.

Windows 95 released.

Bar Ilan University Computer Music Laboratory founded in Israel.

Clavia Nord Lead synthesizer released, using physical modeling to digitally reproduce analog synthesis.

Cynthia (a graphical interface to Csound) released.

LiSa (live sampling) software released by STEIM.

Synthesis Toolkit (STK) released.


Ricardo Dal Farra composes Tierra y Sol (for tape).

Mille Plateaux releases In Memoriam Gilles Deleuze.

First experimental recordings made with 24 bits and 96-kHz AD and DA converters.

Don Buchla develops Lightning II controller.

Cecilia (a graphical companion to Csound, developed from Cynthia) released.

Native Instruments' Generator version 0.96 (synthesis software) released.

Organised Sound Journal is first published by Cambridge University Press.

Patch Work (algorithmic composition software) introduced.

Princeton Sound Lab is formed.

Steinberg release VST plug-in software.

SuperCollider released by James McCartney.


Richard Barrett composes Opening of the Mouth (for two vocalists, instrumentalists, and electronics).

G. M. Koenig composes

Apple Macintosh G3 released (600 MIPS).

Mac OS 8 released.

DVD-Audio siandaid developed.

Cloud Generator granular synthesis software released by John Alexander and Curtis Roads.

Csound becomes real-time on PC hardware.

Per Flauti (for two flutes).

Takayuki Rai composes Impulse (for percussion and computer).

Kees Tazelaar completes Depths of Field (for eight-channel fixed media).

Image/ine (image processing and MIDI) software released by STEIM.

Max/MSP released.

Open Sound Control (OSC) released.

Pure Data released.

Steinberg release VST and ASIO as open standards.


Cort Lippe composes Music for Hi-Hat and Computer (for Hi-Hat and live DSP).

David Rosenboom completes Bell Solaris (for piano).

Horacio Vaggione composes Agon (for multichannel tape).

Intel releases the Pentium II processor (800 MIPS).

First portable MP3 players introduced.

Windows 98 released.

Native Instruments/Reaktor (synthesis software) released.

OpenMusic (algorithmic composition software) introduced.

Symbolic Sound releases the significantly expanded Capybara 320.


alcides lanza composes ontem (for actress-singer, tablas, percussion electroacoustic sounds, and live DSP).

Cort Lippe composes Music for Cello and Computer.

Curtis Roads completes

Half-Life (for fixed media).

Alejandro Vinao composes Epitafios (for mixed choir and computer).

Apple Macintosh G4 released (825 MIPS).

Mac OS 9 released.

CD-R drives become standard part in PCs.

DVD-Audio (high resolution digital audio) standard finalised.

Super Audio CD (SACD) Super Audio CD (SACD) high resolution CD format introduced by Sony and Philips.

Cubase VST 2 released with VSTi interface for virtual software instruments and synthesizer plug-ins.

Dr. Erol Ucer Center for Advanced Studies in Music (MIAM) established in Istanbul.

Pro Tools LE released.


Natasha Barrett composes Utility of Space (fixed media, versions for stereo playback and ambisonic playback).

Nicolas Collins coordinates Fiber Jelly for networked computer ensemble, with Justin Bennett, Kaffe Mathews, Scanner, Anne Wellmer,

1-GHz Intel Pentium III computers released (1,800 MIPS).

Windows ME released.

Haifa University Electronic Music Studio founded by Arie Shapira.

Les Ateliers UPIC changes its name to CCMIX (Center for the Composition of Music Iannis Xenakis) under the directorship of Gerard Pape.

Loris DSP sound


Brian Ferneyhough completes The Doctrine of Similarity (for voices and ensemble).

Jean Piché composes A Cervantes (for saxophone and interactive computer system).

manipulation software released.

Propellerhead Software's Reason 1.0 virtual synthesizer/sampler released.


Improvised Music from Japan released, showing off the burgeoning Japanese electronic improvisation scene.

Gerard Pape composes The Ecstasy of St. Theresa (for nine voices and live electronics).

Jean Piché composes eXpress (for fixed-media, three-channel video, and stereo sound).

Takayuki Rai composes Lucent Aquarelle (for harp and computer).

Benjamin Thigpen composes balagan (for eight-channel fixed media).

Roger Reynolds completes The Angel of Death (for solo piano, chamber orchestra, and six-channel computer-process ed sound).

Horacio Vaggione composes Sçir (for bass flute and tape).

First annual NIME conference, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Mac OS X (UNIX based) released.

Windows XP released.

Apple iPod released.

Ableton Live, Version 1 (loop-based sequencer software) released.

Composers Desktop Project 4 released with full functionality and graphical interface.

Curtis Bahn develops the SBass controller.

Electronic Music Unit (studios) established at the University of Adelaide.

JMSL (Java Music Specification Language) music programming language, based on HMSL, is released.

PulsarSynthesis software released by Alberto de Campo and Curtis Roads.


Paul Doornbusch composes Continuity 3 (for percussion and computer).

Jean Piche composes Bharat (for fixed media, three-channel video, and stereo sound).

Kaija Saariaho completes From the Grammar of Dreams (for soprano and mezzosoprano).

Apple buys Emagic and takes control of Logic DAW software.

JunXion (Sensor to MIDI) software released by STEIM.

SuperCollider becomes Open Source.

SuperCollider 3 released.


Richard Barrett composes DARK MATTER (for eighteen performers and electronics).

Ricardo Dal Farra completes Civilizaciones (for six percussion players and live electronics).

alcides lanza composes aXents (for chamber ensemble and computer synthesized sounds).

Karlheinz Stockhausen completes the opera cycle Licht.

Kees Tazelaar composes Sternflüstern (for fixed media).

Horacio Vaggione composes Gymel (for tape).

Apple Macintosh G5 released (3,100 MIPS).

Apple introduces iTunes.

ChucK live coding software released by Perry Cook and Ge Wang.

Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) opens in Belfast.


James Dillon completes Philomela (opera).

Brian Ferneyhough completes Shadowtime (opera for soloists, small orchestra, and tape).

iPod becomes dominant portable media player and iTunes the dominant online music distributor.

Apple releases Garageband, consumer DAW software.

EmissionControl granular synthesis software released by David Thall.

SoundHack Spectral Shapers DSP sound manipulation plug-ins introduced.


Curtis Roads completes POINT LINE CLOUD (for fixed media).

Benjamin Thigpen composes 0.95652173913 (for eight-channel fixed media).

Horacio Vaggione completes Taleas (for recorders and electroacoustics).

Mac OS X 10 Server released.

Impromptu live coding software released by Andrew Sorensen.

Princeton Laptop Orchestra (PLOrk) founded.

SPEAR phase vocoder (DSP) software released.


Natasha Barrett composes Crack Process (for percussion, trumpet, electric guitar, and computers with real-time processing and motion tracking).

Gerard Pape composes Héliophonie I (for eight-track tape and video).

Kaija Saariaho composes Tag des Jahrs (for mixed choir and electronics).

Intel Core 2 Duo computers released (7,100 MIPS).

Apple switches its computers to Intel processors and includes support for multiple operating systems.

The Game of Life Foundation (Netherlands) develops a 192-speaker system, the first portable Wave Field Synthesis system, exclusively for the presentation of electronic music.


Cort Lippe composes Music for Snare Drum and Computer (for Snare Drum and live DSP).

Windows Vista released.

Mac OS X vi0.5 released.

Apple release Logic 8, DAW software, capable of handling 255 audio tracks without additional DSP


Cercle pour la Libération du Son et de lʼImage (CLSI, a laptop orchestra) is formed in Paris.

Waseda University achieves a natural-sounding, flute-playing anthropomorphic robot, with vibrato.


Cort Lippe composes Music for Tuba and Computer, premiered January 2009 at ZKM, Karlsruhe Germany.

Gerard Pape composes Heliophonie II (for eight computers and video).

Multicore computers are common with 3-GHz Intel Xenon processors, such as Apple's Mac Pro (50,000+MIPS).

DAW software is very common, sometimes a commodity, as are plug-ins for DSP effects and synthesis.

Downloaded music tops the Billboard Magazine's Classical Chart after it decides to allow

download-only music.

Keith McMillan Instruments releases the K-Bow sensor mechanism for a string player's bow and StringPort string-to-USB 2 controller interface for guitar players, making sensor control of synthesis more commercial and feasible for standard musicians.

Max/MSP 5 released with a greatly improved user interface.

Stanford Laptop Orchestra founded.


Rand Steiger premieres|Cryosphere (for orchestra and electronics) at Carnegie (Zankel) Hall, New York.

Computing hardware continues to break previous performance limitations, mostly by running more CPU cores in parallel.

Mac OS X v10.6 released.

At least 1,000 computer music studios exist in universities and institutions around the world, many engaged in research.

Since most personal studios are also computer music studios, there are hundreds of thousands to millions, worldwide.

Symbolic Sound release significantly updated hardware, Pacarana, for the grahphical Kyma X synthesis system.


(1.) The second column of the chronology reflects a (sometimes personal) collection of music that are pieces made (mostly) with the use of a computer or significant other works (usually including electronics) often of interest to computer music practitioners. It is not a particular filtering or censorship of the available music; the list is limited as there is far too much to include. While some of the pieces may appear to be instrumental in nature, these have (mostly) been composed with algorithmic techniques using computers. The completeness and inclusiveness of a list such as this is always an issue. While every attempt has been made to make this as inclusive, complete, and accurate as possible, there will inevitably be omissions (if for no other reason than a complete list would fill a volume) that someone thinks are significant. While it is hoped that all of the significant and important events have been included, any omissions are unfortunate and possibly due to a lack of available documentation and not the lack of research effort or an attempt at filtering or censorship.

(2.) There was some activity before 1939, such as Stephan Wolpe using eight gramophones at different speeds at a Dada performance in 1920. Darius Milhaud (1922), Percy Grainger, and Edgar Varèse (1936) all experimented with gramophone record manipulation, and Varèse suggested in 1940 that Hollywood set up an Optical Sound Studio. Also, Ernst Toch and Paul Hindemith created gramophone studies, however the results of these developments have been lost and there remains only sketchy written reports. Additionally, there were people working with film soundtracks who were making sound collages, but while this work was interesting the consequences of it were minimal.

(3.) Steel band and wire recorders had existed for some time already, and German engineers had developed a coated plastic tape for magnetic recording, but it was not very high quality. In 1943, the use of high-frequency bias was accidentally discovered, which gave a dramatic improvement in the quality of recording. The Allies during World War II were surprised by the length of German broadcasts, which sounded as if they were live, as they did not know about the high quality of the new magnetic tape recorders. This technology spread after the war.

(4.) Halim El-Dabh, born in Egypt and educated in Egypt and the United States, created a piece of music by recording on a wire recorder in 1944. Titled Ta ʼabir al-Zaar, there is an excerpt titled “Wire Recorder Piece” now available on CD, and it may well be the first piece of music created by manipulating recordings, or “musique concrète”. There are other examples of people making earlier works with optical soundtracks on film and so on. Some examples of these are; in Germany, Walter Ruttman and Fritz Bischoff created works in 1928. In Russia, G. V. Alexandrov created pieces from 1930, as did Dziga Vertov from 1931 (although some say he started in 1916). Jack Ellit, an Australian working in London with experimental New Zealand filmmaker Len Lye, created works such as Journey #1 using optical film technology from about 1930. However, again there was little in the way of musical consequences of this work.

(5.) MIPS (millions of instructions per second) is a measure of the raw computing power of the CPU (central processing unit) of a computer, an indication of how many instructions it can perform in a given time. Generally, MIPS is regarded as a very poor measure of computing power as it does not take into account other important factors, such as the instruction mix (some instructions take more time than others) and data input and output capabilities. However, for the simplistic use here of giving some indication of the changes in raw computing power over time, it is adequate. There was also a microprocessor manufacturer named MIPS Technologies.

(6.) CSIRAC played music at least several months before the Ferranti Mark I and possibly much earlier. Unfortunately, there is no other surviving evidence about the Ferranti music apart from the recording. There are various brief, anecdotal, reports of computers playing music in a range of ways at about the same time as CSIRAC. These include an assortment of sound-producing mechanisms, incorporating attaching a speaker to a serial bus or part of the computer, placing radio equipment near the computer and playing sounds through the radio's speaker via radio-frequency interference, and programming computers to print on large electromechanical printing machines such that the rapid printing created tones, among other methods. Unfortunately, there are no surviving recordings of these activities, and so far there is no surviving evidence from the time. It is important to note that these early attempts at making computers play music did not use a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) or predetermined synthesis waveforms. The developments initiated by Max Mathews and John Pierce have the distinction of being the first musical use of a DAC as well as going beyond what was previously the playback of standard or popular melodies to investigating the very rich musical possibilities offered by the computer. Thus it is Mathews and Pierce, whose work led to the great musical consequences and advances of computer music, who are the rightful fathers of the genre, as their work has had the significant consequences.