martes, 30 de diciembre de 2008

Fairlight CMI

The "Computer Musical Instrument" was the first polyphonic, digital sampling synthesizer, designed in 1979 by Fairlight founders Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, in Australia.

It was heavily used by 80's musicians such as Trevor Horn (and a number of ZTT's artists like Art of Noise and Frankie Goes to Hollywood), Herbie Hancock, Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, Bill Sharpe, Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel, Jean Michel Jarre and Alan Parsons, amongst others.

The CMI featured two Motorola 6800 8-bit microprocessors, and a modified version of the Motorola MDOS operating system, called QDOS.

In 1983 MIDI was added to the CMI. Apart from the keyboard, a light pen was used on a green monochrome CRT for interfacing (this CMI feature can be seen on Duran Duran's 1984 video for The Reflex). Later models dropped the light pen in favor of a graphics tablet.

Sadly, Fairlight couldn't keep up with the high costs of CMI's production (built by hand with top-of-the-line components), so they went bankrupt, and the last CMIs where sold as word processors...

Notable albums that used the CMI in its production are:

Magnetic Fields, Jean Michel Jarre, 1981.
Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel, 1982.
Future Shock, Herbie Hancock, 1983.
The Unforgettable Fire, U2, 1984.
Songs from the Big Chair, Tears for Fears, 1985.
How to be a...Zillionaire!, ABC, 1985.
Planet Rock: The Album, Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force, 1986.
Hysteria, Def Leppard, 1987.
Automatic, Bill Sharpe + Gary Numan, 1989

Notable videoclips that feature images of a CMI are:

The Reflex, Duran Duran, 1984.
Change Your Mind, Bill Sharpe + Gary Numan, 1985.
Miami Vice theme song, Jan Hammer, 1985.
Sequencer, Al Di Meola, 1983.
Hanging on a Heart Attack, Device, 1986.

* Tony Wilson said that producer Martin Hannet quit Factory Records after the label put money on the Haçienda instead of buying him a CMI.
* Lots of reverbs were used on Art of Noise's Into Battle to mask the CMI's initial low sampling fidelity.
* The orchestral stabs heard on Afrika Bambaataa's Planet Rock where made using a rented CMI.

Photo Credits:


Fairlight CMI on "This Week" ABC TV
Bob Moog Fairlight Intro
Al Di Meola - Sequencer

martes, 23 de diciembre de 2008

About MAME datfiles

Auditing and rom management utilities are useful tools, complimentary to your favorite emulator. Since emulators are always under developement (looking for the 'perfect emulation'), changes are always present. These changes are reflected the roms they use too: rom file renaming and new available roms dumps for old games come from time to time. Here's where rom managers come to the scene.

Rom managers help you to audit your roms, deleting unnecesary roms, warning about duplicate dump, missing dumps, bad CRCs, etc.

The way a rom manager is aware of the list of supported games (and roms, samples, artwork, etc. used by every game) is by means of a DATFILE.

An emulator should be able to generate a DATfile containing all the details of every game the emulator supports. If the emulator is not able to generate this file, then the author should provide a companion datfile together with the emulator.

Up to version 0.83, information on all the details of every emulated game by MAME was displayed by using the 'listinfo' parameter:

C:\mame\mame -listinfo

Here's a sample of the output generated:

With the advent of XML, MAME started using a new parameter, "listxml". Since version 0.84, this parameter formatted the output using the XML format:

C:\mame\mame -listxml

Here's a sample of the output generated:

In the case of the MAME emulator, datfiles are created redirecting the output information generated by the emulator itself, to a text file.

For MAME versions up to 0.83, use:

C:\mame\mame -listinfo>mame.dat

For MAME versions since 0.84, use:

C:\mame\mame -listxml>mame.dat

Rom managers must be aware of the differences between datfiles created using -listinfo and the ones created using -listxml. For instance, ClrMamePro uses different profile atributes for this.
There are some datfiles repositories over the net, here are some of them:

But now you are able to generate your own MAME datfiles ;-)