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The Fall's Atari on display

The band's computer given to Manchester museum

  • 13/04/2011
  • Mark Savage

If you go to a gig nowadays it's not uncommon to see a couple of laptops on stage amongst the guitars and synths.

It might seem like a recent development but one early musical computer has just been put on display at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester.

It's an Atari ST 520 that dates back to 1985, and it used to belong to former member of The Fall Julia Adamson.

The machine was the first home computer to feature a MIDI port, allowing it to be hooked up to equipment like the Akai S1000 professional digital sampler, which let music producers store and edit samples.

Julia's machine was used on several Fall tracks, as well as The Happy Monday's Wrote For Luck,  The Inspiral Carpets' Biggest Mountain and The Charlatans' The Only One I Know.

Julia Adamson using the Atari ST on stage

"In the past, the synthesiser could link in with a drum machine, but the computer was a more sophisticated system," she said.

"It could delay notes or bring notes forward, so you had more control.

"In The Charlatans' The Only One I know', for example, they would use it like a metronome to work with so they played in time and then could add strings to the sound too."

Julia also used the equipment on stage as a member of The Fall (see picture), replacing parts as they wore out over the years.

She went on to work as Factory Records' producer Martin Hannett's assistant and is now manager of the Invisiblegirl music company.

She decided to donate the Atari and an Akai sampler to MOSI as it "had an incredible history".

Mark Savage has been finding out more, listen below:

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The Museum of Science and Industry is holding a number of music workshops and demonstrations this Easter. Visit their website for more details.

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