You Can Listen To The First Computer Singing In 1961

The song they chose was Daisy Bell, better known as the Bicycle Built for Two.

Most homes have a computer or two, and sometimes they may even have multiple devices for everyone living in the home. They are commonplace these days but just a few decades ago, it was quite different.

We had computers in the 1960s, but very few people owned them for home use. They were in laboratories and large companies around the world, and many of the computers were just being developed.

Photo: Flickr/UC Davis College of Engineering License: CC BY 2.0

That includes the IBM 7094, located at Bell Labs in New Jersey at the time. The year was 1961, and the computer was about to do something that would shock everyone.

John Kelly Jr., Carol Lochbaum, and Lou Gerstman are engineers who worked at Bell Labs and they were busy working on speech synthesis. They took that computer, which was essentially the size of a room, and taught it to sing a song.

Photo: YouTube/Slaven Radovic

Max Matthews was responsible for the music that accompanied the lyrics. The song they chose was Daisy Bell, perhaps better known as the Bicycle Built for Two.

Undoubtedly, many people who heard a computer singing were shocked at the development. It may not be a surprise today, but in 1961, it was as if science fiction was coming true.

Photo: Youtube/Harry Keil

Interestingly, HAL 9000, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey got emotional in the movie and began moving backward to a lower level of knowledge. While it was being deactivated, it started singing the song, Daisy Bell.

YouTube also has the original 1894 photograph recording of Daisy Bell, complete with the lyrics. Bell Labs has been the site of many developments over the years, including this early speech synthesizer from 1939.

Check out the videos below:

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