chapter  11
28 Pages

Designing the musician–machine interface

The engineering tasks associated with the first two decades of computing history (the 1950s and ’60s) were primarily directed towards getting computers to work and to keeping them operational. Computers tended to be vast devices which consumed large amounts of energy and constantly needed maintenance. Users were assumed to be engineering operators who knew the machine operation intimately. Data was entered in a variety of formats – from binary codes stored on punched card or paper tape to the setting of control registers by spin-wheels. All computer operation was by ‘batch’ process; users submitted their data and were informed of the result at a later date. There was no need to study the interface between machine and operator because it was assumed that users would be happy to code their programs and data into whatever form the computer could process.