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Software Distribution By Vinyl 279

Posted by timothy
from the when-obscurantism-attacks dept.
townxelliot writes "Beige Records is home to the intriguing 8-Bit Construction Set. Their record has the distinction of being "the first ever use of the vinyl recording medium for software distribution - the inside tracks are audio data which can be dubbed to cassette tape and booted in your respective atari or commodore 8-bit computers". Samples of their music ("entirely programmed in 6502 assembly language") are available for download."
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Software Distribution By Vinyl

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  • by Festering Leper (456849) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:10AM (#11735115) Homepage
    that we'll start getting floppy 45's in magazines again?
    • AOL (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      that we'll start getting floppy 45's in magazines again?

      AOL will of course be the first and largest user of this new medium.
    • This is nothing. The druids used rocks to store the null character '\0' many hundreds of years ago.
  • by Phucilage (83738) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:10AM (#11735116) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if you'll be able to pull the same ole trick w/ this method as you did with music. If you used lighter grooves, you able to pack more music in, it'd just be more quiet, deeper grooves was louder music, but less of them.
    • What do you mean by 'less of them'?. Most records I've seen have just 2 grooves :)
    • Yes, but it would reduce Signal/Noise ratio.

      Depending on the frequencies used in the recording (1200/2400Hz??) , it may be easier to use slower rotational speed (16rpm used to be available)
    • Stereo records groove is a kinda V, with one channel being movements in the / direction, and the other being movements in the \ direction. So, deeper (thus wider) grooves gives you a greater amplitude range, increasing signal-to-noise ratio, however it means you have less tracks-per-inch on the disc. With noise generally being high end hiss, as well as the pops 'n clicks, on a low bit (4/8bit) and/or low frequency (eg, 8KHz) ADC, I would guess you could make the groove narrower and jam more info onto the d
    • Well, there used to be video phonographs back before Betamax came out. It was so neat because you could actually play theatre-released movies in your own house when you wanted! And, of course, the record buying clubs added a video section for video phonographs.

      I think the parent poster is right about the lighter grooves, both from a logical standpoint and by the fact that the video phonographs came in special plastic containers so that you were not able to touch the actual medium. If you did, the medium

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:11AM (#11735123)
    when copyright infringement of computer games could be done with a double cassette deck.

    Some good decks could even reliably copy games in high speed dubbing mode.

  • if you play it backwards you can briefly hear a voice say "6502 is dead"
  • by whaley (6071) <slashdot AT hilvarenbeek DOT net> on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:11AM (#11735127) Homepage
    Basicode (Hobbyscoop) was distributed on flexi discs..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:11AM (#11735128)
    Real Men use eight tracks.
  • ahh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by CdBee (742846) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:12AM (#11735129)
    but I need to know before I buy - is the record DRM-laden ?
    • Re:ahh... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ajs318 (655362)
      Believe it or not, not only was it possible for interested amateurs to build their own equipment capable of playing analogue gramophone records, it was actually encouraged! See, in those days, nobody ever tried to flout common law by pretending that you were not privy to a secret embodied in an article which you rightfully owned.

      And every LP you bought was even labelled with the proper address to write to if you needed to obtain permission for making copies, broadcasting &c.
  • Imagine... (Score:5, Funny)

    by IversenX (713302) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:12AM (#11735133) Homepage
    ...if you wrote DeCSS in this. Perhaps the MPAA and the RIAA would sue each other over who has the right to sue you, thus annihilating themselves into pure energy?
  • by compwizrd (166184)
    Home Computer Magazine (HCM) did this back in the 80's if i remember right.
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:14AM (#11735148)
    * = $C000:.MEM
    LDA #115
    JSR $FFD2
    LDA #108
    JSR $FFD2
    LDA #097
    JSR $FFD2
    LDA #115
    JSR $FFD2
    LDA #104
    JSR $FFD2
    LDA #100
    JSR $FFD2
    LDA #111
    JSR $FFD2
    LDA #116
    JSR $FFD2

    SYS 49152

    I wonder if slashdot has ever been output in 6502 assembly language before?
    • If it has, I bet it wouldn't crash the system afterwards... unlike your version ;)

      (anyone else missing an RTS or JMP $FFD2 instead of the last JSR here? ;)
      • Hehe. I last programmed in 6502 assembly (or more correctly, 6510 assembly) on my Commodore 64 when I was about 15. That was about 17 years ago! I was amazed I recalled JSR $FFD2 from memory.

        I can't remember what I did yesterday but for some reason I really can't get any of the important C-64 numbers out of my head.

        POKE 53281,0
        POKE 53280,0
        POKE 646,15
        SYS 64738
        • I can't remember what I did yesterday but for some reason I really can't get any of the important C-64 numbers out of my head.

          I wouldn't have been able to nitpick if I didn't know this particular feeling just too well, would I? :)

        • POKE 53281,0
          POKE 53280,0
          POKE 646,15
          SYS 64738

          Ah yes. Change screen color, border color, cursor color, reboot (?).

          I do miss that machine, sad to say.
    • by WWWWolf (2428)

      Fairly brute force, don't you think?

      Haven't really programmed C64 for a while, but here goes... haven't assembled it or anything...

      .segment "CODE"
      .import CHROUT
      .import P1 ; that pointer in zeropage
      .proc helloslash
      init: ldy #$00
      lda # sta P1
      lda #>_msg
      sta P1+1
      ploop: lda (p1),y
      cmp #$00
      beq out
      jsr CHROUT
      jmp ploop
      out: rts
      _msg: .ascii "hELLO sLASHDOT"
      .byte 00

      Or, if you want to use BASIC ROM,

      .segment "CODE"
      .proc helloslash lda # ldy #>_msg
      jsr $AB1E
      _msg: .a

    • LDA #115
      JSR $FFD2

      Note that these characters are in PET-ASCII. Lower and upper case are interchanged due to the way the PET/C-64 keyboard works.

      This made for lots of fun uploading files to a C-64 based BBS which required reversing the case before sending so they would display properly.

      As for strange data transfer media, I'm sure almost everyone here is too young to remember paper tape. Also for a short time, there was a type of bar code reader (Cauzin Softstrip) which read in programs printed in magazine
  • Hah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:16AM (#11735153)
    I've been joking about LP-ROMs for years :)
  • by Fred Or Alive (738779) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:16AM (#11735154)

    This page [] has data on various vinyl records with computer data stored on them. Most of which are about 20 years old. So they're not the first to distribute computer data on vinyl.

    • by Richard W.M. Jones (591125) <rich@annexia. o r g> on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:42AM (#11735285) Homepage
      Software distribution using acetate (very flexible, cheap and light) records was very common in the UK around the early 1980s. They were the original "cover discs" on magazines!

      I still have a few games, including an Othello/Reversi game for the ZX81 from "Your Computer" magazine.

      The disadvantage was that you could play the acetate about twice before it got so damaged that it wouldn't play any more, so we used to record the record to tape first time.

      Vinyl/acetate wasn't even the strangest way that computer software was distributed. I remember they used to broadcast games late at night on TV. You had to (carefully!) record the sound signal off the TV and onto your tape machine. Madness!


  • Not first post... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tgv (254536) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:18AM (#11735165) Journal
    I don't think this is a primer. I remember a magazine (perhaps Keyboard Magazine) that had a disk with software in the 80s. And of course, there was the Dutch radio that broadcasted software over FM...
    • If you want weird software distribution, the BBC (and Channel 4) broadcast software through teletext services at one point as well.

      Although that wasn't data as sound, teletext uses unused parts of the picture.
  • It's hardly a first (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stx23 (14942) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:20AM (#11735173) Homepage Journal
    Diverse artists such as Tomita, Shakin' Stevens & the Thompson Twins distributed software on vinyl over 20 years ago. []

    OH DEAR.
    a bat bit

    • Shakin' Stevens?!

      Shakin' bleedin' Stevens?!

      Shakin' Stevens had a computer game; on his singles?! Very weird and geeky; not the kind of thing you'd have expected from him at all.

      It's kind of like finding out that Britney Spears has secreted Marijuana in unused pits on the outside edge of her latest CD in an attempt to overthrow American society.
  • This is a cool idea aslong as you dont have public enemy over to have cucumber sandwiches too often, i can imagine that Terminator X and his scratching antics could cause some problems
  • TI-99/4A (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lbmouse (473316)
    This reminds me of the TI-99/4A's [] cassette tape storage. For those of us who couldn't afford to buy the floppy drive, it was fun wating 30+ minutes to save/load your programs. It would wait for you to flip the tape or change it if needed. I guess what did you expect for $500 in the early 80's?
    • OLD CS1

      I think that was the comand.. it's been awhile.
    • Re:TI-99/4A (Score:3, Funny)

      by skurk (78980) *
      My debut was on the Oric 1 [] back in 1983. Now, loading games from tape was pretty time consuming, but the Oric had an option that made it even slower.

      For those of you who ever tried an Oric, you may remember the default load command; CLOAD "". But if you prepended ",S" it would go into something called a slow mode. ON A CASSETTE.

      Loading "The Hobbit" in slow mode took about 25 minutes, and I'm not even kidding here. It was so slow that you could almost hear every bit and tell wether it was a cool game
    • 3 words:

      Tunnels of Doom.

      Man that was the most fun I had on a computer for about 5 years. Given that I am more into "action" games now, it is weird to go back and play this game on an emulator, but it was a heck of a game.

      Load times were awful... I even used the emulator to "save" a game of mine to a .wav file to listen to the good old sounds of TI saves... I can still remember the start and end sequence "sounds" - probably sync bits to tell the TI that it's starting / finished with data....

      On another
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:23AM (#11735190)
    check out the album XL1 by Pete Shelley (ex-Buzzcocks). apart from being a great album,
    the last track on this album called "zx spectrum code" contains computer graphics for the sinclair zx spectrum computer. see m
    cheers, lars
  • Its not the first. (Score:2, Informative)

    by torpor (458)
    In the 80's, we had magazines that would include software on plastic 'vinyl' slip-ins that were bundled on the cover .. i used to have a whole collection of these mini-records, full of software from the magazine ..

    nice idea, though, to be mixing up assembly and music. take that, miss spears!! ;)
  • like the modem tones (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    there was an artists who did a track on his cd. (matthew sweet maybe?) and it was basically a one-sided modem transmission. you could put a phone near the speaker and get a text message from the artist. i think it was at like 300 baud or something so it wasn't much, and this was like 10 years ago now.
  • by mauledbydogs (853179) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:28AM (#11735225)
    When I worked on Commodore User (UK mag) in the 80s, we gave away a flexi-disc as a covermount. It was basically a floppy plastic record. One side was a Heaven 17 track and the other, IIRC, was a datatrack designed to be recorded onto tape then loaded on a C64.
  • Rainbow Magazine (Score:3, Informative)

    by qwertphobia (825473) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:32AM (#11735243)
    Rainbow Magazine [] used to ship with a floppy record every once in a while.

    It had the same code on it that was listed in the magazine in text, but the record came without the typing and type-o-ing.

    Rainbow Magazine was a magazine with content based around the Tandy/Radio Shack Color Computer. []
  • by marsu_k (701360) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:33AM (#11735251)
    and the C64 was oh-so-popular, the local radio station used to send freeware C64 programs over radio so you could record them on a tape and use with your Commodore. It was good listening also, if you happened to like industrial/noise.
  • by mccalli (323026) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:37AM (#11735260) Homepage
    C&VG occassionally came with a vinyl record containing software. The one that sticks in my mind was a dual music/software record containing a Thompson Twins' single (Doctor Doctor?) and a Thompson Twins adventure game for the Spectrum.


  • Scannable? (Score:3, Funny)

    by zerblat (785) <jonas@skub[ ]se ['ic.' in gap]> on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:41AM (#11735278) Homepage
    Now the question is, if you don't have a gramophone, can you read the data with a scanner []?
    • Re:Scannable? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stx23 (14942)
      Works fine with Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, Neil Young's Weld and the pop stylings of Merzbow.
    • Re:Scannable? (Score:3, Informative)

      by whaley (6071)
      Well, there is an optical lp player:
      and there has been a previous slashdot article about the 'digital needle':
  • Great. Now who makes A/V software for my turntable?
  • LT-TFA (Score:4, Informative)

    by x2A (858210) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:53AM (#11735333)
    If you Listen To TFA, you'll realise that this isn't just software written to vinyl, this is software encoded in music, that happens to be written to vinyl. That is, the assembly code, when played back, actually SOUNDS like music. This is completely different from having a data section at the end of a vinyl disc (for all of you who have been using that as a "this has been done before with..." example).

    'tho listening to some Speedy-J tracks, sounds like there some data encoded in those!

  • distro on vynyl (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    back in 1975/1975, a copy of 6800 BASIC
    was put on a flexible record, and bound
    into Interface Age magazine. You had
    to play it, record it to cassette, and
    load it in the machine. ..p
  • Why bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by haelduksf (812679) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:58AM (#11735357)
    If you really wanted to, you could probably encode music onto a piece of cheese...but what's the point?
  • by RockClimb (235954) on Monday February 21, 2005 @10:09AM (#11735431)
    A story like this should have been posted later in the day.... I woke up, went to slashdot, read the story and for a brief second thought the last 25 years of my life had been some type of twisted dream and that I was late for school. Gee thanks guys.... I nearly had a heart attack ;)
  • I remember in the early 80's, during the Apple II time, there was a radio that sent a software through FM, which you'd record to your tape recorder, and then load in your computer. Floppys were much too expensive to afford a drive at that time...
    • The NOS (a Dutch broadcaster) used to do this as well. To distribute programs efficiently to an audience with C-64s, ZX Spectrums etc., they developed Basicode (see elsewhere on this page), a Basic dialect with interpreters for all those platforms.

  • Not new at all (Score:3, Informative)

    by zenst (558964) on Monday February 21, 2005 @10:41AM (#11735665) Homepage Journal
    During the early computing days a few magazines gave away flexi-discs (records to us laymen) that had software on them. Reason was that distribution/pressing of flexi-disc records was way way cheaper than attaching a cassette tothe magazine. These that I have date back to 1981. One nice one has VIC-20, ZX81 and some PET software on the disc, also believe has track for Dragon micro but been a long long time since i dug them out. Today we have the great cover CD's (which are about as cheap to make as flexi-discs were back then), though CD's do fly alot lot further @:_).
  • Here's one that's maybe earlier? HERE []. It's advertised in the Oct. 1977 issue of Byte Magazine - I've always wanted to find one but never seen any. Besides, one scratch and your screwed. Better back it up to reel-to-reel tape quick!

  • What about FM Radio (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pope Raymond Lama (57277) <gwidion AT mpc DOT com DOT br> on Monday February 21, 2005 @10:48AM (#11735708) Homepage
    In the late 80's there was a radio program in Sao Paulo (The Sao Paulo University Radio, BTW), that did broadcast computer software at 2400bps.

    IIRC it was some ZX-Spectrum games that they did transmit.

    I myself never tried to tape the transmitions and use them, although.
  • by deetsay (703600) on Monday February 21, 2005 @11:13AM (#11735896) Homepage
    The 8-Bit Construction Set record is also the first ever use of the vinyl recording medium for software distribution - the inside tracks are audio data which can be dubbed to cassette tape and booted in your respective atari or commodore 8-bit computers (guinness world record for first-ever vinyl-to-software programming is currently pending)
    I coded a small C64 demo and put it in a datatrack on my vinyl "Tero: Cracker's Revenge" on Rikos Records ( a couple of years ago... Anyway, we already knew it was an old idea, I'm told there was an Apple 2 datatrack in 1981 on a record called "Kone kertoo" by a band called "Argon". I'm too lazy to read the full thread but there's probably earlier examples in the world as well... I'm pretty sure the Guinness record people will find out :-)
  • by tonywestonuk (261622) on Monday February 21, 2005 @11:17AM (#11735935)
    ...Of course, there are many of us who truly believe the quality of software distributed by Vinyl, will always be higher than that distributed by CD-ROM.
  • If they want to impress me, they should get it to work with one of those Discman headphone-to-cassette-shell adapters for cars. Direct from the vinyl to the cassette drive, without "copying". Then they could really blow my mind whistling into a microphone hooked to the adapter.

    I wonder what kinds of software is really encoded backwards in those Led Zeppelin and Beatles records. Maybe "turn me on, dead man" is really literal, and "turn me off, dead man" is encoded somewhere else.
  • sigsaly (Score:2, Informative)

    by an7ron (846004)
    bell labs did it with a gold disc during WW2
  • In the 1980's some time there was a UK magazine that had a cover mounted flexi-disk thing with a ZX Spectrum game on it. If memory serves, it was a Thompson Twins (as in the 1980's band) adventure game (as in text).

    I also seem to recall I could never get it to load!

    Honestly, you young'uns -- there's nothing new! I'm just waiting for the /. article on playing vynl mp3's on an iPod... or perhaps a vPod... no? ok!
  • In the second link it shows the guys apparently doing this.

    Why in the world is Agent Smith wearing a helmet?
  • while Beige is awesome, this record came out several years ago. (and it's somewhat well known that there was software distributed by vinyl before that.) How about posting about some of their more [] recent [] stuff []. ;o)
  • reply from beige (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @01:47PM (#11737218)
    hi folks

    thanks for the debate on our record, hope someone likes the music anyway. obviously not the first data on vinyl [just never bothered to change the webpage in 5 years] and actually not the first time the 8-bit construction set has been slashdotted. but nonetheless it's always a pleasure to see what people think.

    we received an anonymous and very interesting email in early 2002 detailing some patents regarding software distribution on vinyl. i'm appending it below for interested parties.

    thanks again
    & peace out nerds

    paul AT beigerecords DOT com

    Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2002 23:59:03 -0500

    Distribution of computer programs on vinyl records
    was done in the early 70's by several different
    researchers. First, a guy named
    Allan B. Chertok. He has several patents in this field,
    which I would recommend that you guys read:

    US Patent 3,662,350 (1972)
    US Patent 3,740,733 (1973)
    US Patent 3,662,354 (1972)

    Also- Norman L. Harvey. This guys was a real genius.
    Check out his patent: US 3,755,792 (1973).

    This is not to say that your work is not "original"
    and "cool". But please- give credit where credit is due!

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)