1982 Computer digital art and music

1982 

Peter BeylisLH01 – two artificial organisms interacting in 2D space, displayed as plotter drawings. Later work includes EAT (1983), (three artificial organisms); Nelson (1985), (Nelson Mandela); Animat (1989), organisms, computer animation.

Brian Reffin Smith – programme adviser and also on-screen in BBC TV’s The Computer Programme. The BBC published his art software for the BBC Micro.

Ted Nelson – Literary Machines. This book offers an overview of Nelson’s term hypertext as well as his Project Xanadu, which he started in 1960. The book was republished nine times by 1993. First edition was called ‘The Humanist Edition had a silver mylar cover. Later edition was ‘The Technical Edition’ and had a white cover. The ideas in the book, about a free access universal online library, and associated software, were eventually absorbed into the general world wide web, although Xanadu did not use a document publishing model (e.g. HTML). A working system OpenXanadu arrived in 2014.

Channel 4 logo animation (UK) – Martin Lambie-Nairn and Tony Pritchett, with John Lansdown. Designed and programmed (in BASIC) by Pritchett in the UK but finally rendered in the US on a Foonley F1 super computer in Los Angeles at Triple I (as used on Tron). The design concept of interlocking parts is still used today.

TIME Magazine drops “Man of the Year,” and names the personal computer its “Machine of the Year” (or Man or Woman of the Year at the time). The Personal Computer (PC) was therefore the Machine of the Year for 1982. The editor of Time magazine, John A. Meyers, wrote that “In 1982, they [computers] truly became personalized, brought down to scale, so that people could hold, prod and play with them.” The PC remains the only Time ‘Machine of the Year’

Artists/Computers/Art exhibition at Canada House, Trafalgar Square, London UK.

Stephen Scrivener published many technical articles on computer graphics throughout the 1980s. such as The Interactive Manipulation Of Unstructured Images, April 1982, International Journal of Man-Machine Studies.

Bill Viola – Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House performance video exhibited. Said Viola “an attempt to stay awake continuously … in an empty house.” Title also used for a later book ‘Reasons for Knocking at an Empty House: Writings, 1973-1994 (Writing Art)’ (1995 MIT Press). If only he’d had a computer to occupy his time.

Eastgate Systems founded in December to publish hypertext and electronic literature.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum released at £125, a just over a third the cost of the BBC Micro. Much improved from original ZX80 (1980).

Commodore 64 released. Very popular. Had the SID sound chip, with three channels of audio. The SID sound is still popular today.

Timex Sinclair 1000 – Timex launches a US version of the Sinclair ZX81 (1981)  in July for $100, and sells 600,000 units.

WordPerfect – moved to the operating system MS-DOS, from CP/M. WordStar did not transition and became obsolete.

Cray X-MP – supercomputer from Cray Research. It was announced in 1982 as the successor to the 1975 Cray-1. It was the world’s fastest computer from 1983 to 1985 with a quad-processor performance of 800 MFLOPS. It was used, amongst other things, for graphics rendering including The Last Starfighter (1984).

Adobe Systems founded in 1982 by John Warnock and Charles Geschke. Steve Jobs offered to buy their company for $5 million as he was after proportional fonts after working in a typesetting job while paying his way through college. Adobe founders refused, selling him shares worth 19% of the company.

PostScript: Adobe Systems developed ‘PostScript,’ (PS) a language used in electronic and desktop publishing, and in digital fonts, which made possible accurate digital painting and image manipulation. They began developing Adobe Illustrator in 1985, released in 1987. 

Compact Disk CD from Philips and Sony debuted with a Sony CD Plarer (invented in the 1960, developed from 1979). The famous Red Book CD-DA standard was published in 1980.

Don Buchla created the Music Easel, a small, portable, all-in-one synthesizer in 1972. The Buchla 400, with a video display, was released in 1982.

MIDI: Moog Music founder Robert Moog announced MIDI in the October 1982 issue of Keyboard magazine. MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) specification improved on UMI, a standardized system of synchronising electronic musical instruments. The first MIDI instruments were the Roland Jupiter-6 and the Prophet 600. Low cost sequencing invented.  

NEC PC-88 and PC-98 released, the first computers to support MIDI. Atari followed.

Synclavier Sample-to-Disk (STD) – first commercial hard disk streaming sampler, with 16-bit sampling at up to 50 kHz. Caught on quickly. 

A retrospective exhibition of the work of American Korean artist Nam June Paik was held in the spring at the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan, New York. The multimedia artist, founder of ‘video art’ and the term ‘electronic super highway’ influenced digital art of the 1980s, having already created some of his most famous works – the video art installation TV Buddha was created by Paik in 1974. A retrospective of Paik’s work was organised at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1989.

The first commercial Compact Disc (CD) was produced in August 1982, which played a recording of Chopin waltzes. The CD was introduced in Japan in October, with 50 titles released, including Billy Joel’s album ‘52nd Street.’ The first CD played on BBC Radio was Dire Strait’s album ‘Love Over Gold’ on BBC Radio Scotland in October. In March 1983, CD and CD players were released in Europe and North America. 

Blade RunnerRidley Scott‘s film of Philip K Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? With successful Vangelis soundtrack. Re-used some computer graphics from Scott’s film Alien (1979).

Tron (on the artwork as TRON) and  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan were released in the Summer, marking the beginning of computer graphics and CGI in major feature films. Special effects featured in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, with techniques developed by the visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) for starships and battle scenes. It was one of the first films to use computer special effects to speed up production. It had a budget of $12 million and earned $97 million.  

Tron is known as one of the earliest films to use extensive CGI with over 800 scenes. The plot involved a programmer transported into a computer architecture. It had a $17 million budget and took in $50 million, it was the biggest success for Disney for several years, but was a commercial disappointment. Tron, however, became a cult classic and was followed by a franchise of comics books, a TV series, video games and the sequel Tron: Legacy (2010).    

The Haçienda club opened in Manchester on 21 May 1982 (UK). The comedian Bernard Manning said to the audience, “I’ve played some shit-holes during my time, but this is really something.” His retro jokes did not go down well with the fashionable crowd and he returned his fee.  Martin Rootes of Micro Arts did computer graphics for the club in the early 80s. 

BodyMap – the influential British fashion label was founded in 1982 by Stevie Stewart and David Holah. Influenced by the club and art scene in London, BodyMap fashion was worn during the New Wave and New Romantic music fan era.

The Haçienda, a Manchester UK nightclub owned by Factory Records, opened in 1982.