Posted by Amy the Archivist on August 31, 2010 in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute History , unidentified photographs If the blackboard and keyboard are any indication, this guy had something to do with music. Do you know who he is? Mystery Image #14 and #20 are still unidentified. Take a look!
This is Neal Rolnick. He was my music composition professor in '84.
Just passing through, I wanted to mention that his name is spelled Neil Rolnick, and he still teaches here! I took a course with him last year :)
By the way, that exact music chalkboard is still in one of the practice rooms in West Hall!
In reply to by egglel
Thanks for passing through and leaving a comment, Julia!
Neil tells me the picture is circa 1982/3, and the computer to his right is the very first computer in the music studios. It's a PDP 8, acquired from SUNY Albany. The computations were done by the mainframe in the VCC, and digital to analog converters were used to allow you to hear the files. The system on that rack would now "take up a small corner of the chip on your iPhone". That photo must have demonstrated the huge forward leap of music instruction at the 'Tute.
Wow - that's an old one! I started at RPI in 1980 and was already into synths. Neil arrived the next year and started the electronic music program. Needless to say, I was heavily involved and help build the studio including a bunch of the furniture to hold the mixer and reel-to-reel decks.
Yes, I remember when we got the PDP-8. It was already pretty out-of-date by that time and the great 5-MegaByte hard drive that was the size of a washing machine. I don't remember what the mainframe (IBM 3070/3080) software was. Maybe Music V. The PDP-8 got the wave data and then played it through custom board with huge Analog Devices DAC modules. I was more a real-time guy and mostly used the analog synths so I don't know more details.
I do remember the 5-MB disk packs for the PDP-8. They were huge things that looked like a bunch of 33 1/3 records stacked in a Tupperware cake holder. When one died, we tore it apart and found the platters were great for bowling down the long hallway between the music labs and WRPI :)
Oops - one more note. I just realized that the keyboard behind Neil was mine! I had a used Yamaha CS-60 (couldn't afford a used CS-80 for a couple more years) that I left in the music lab for everyone to use for a few months since the lab didn't have a keyboard.
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