Magical Computer Music, the first CD with a program, in 1985

The disk Magical Computer Music by Magical Power Mako has a particularity: to my knowledge, it’s the first CD with a computer program, in March 1985. It’s not a CD-ROM, but an Audio CD with several programs for MSX computers.

Instead of repeating all the previous articles each time, I’ll refer you to the dedicated page, which explains what I do with vinyl records and lists all the pages containing programs, explanations, etc.


The cover

So, it’s not the first CD-ROM, but apparently the first CD with data, dixit this site (in Russian). The disk itself includes music composed on computers of that time, and the booklet clearly explains how to retrieve the data. There are two types of tracks: L5 is a program, the other two (TCM and THR) are literally music, I’ll come back to them later.

The equipment used: an MSX, a keyboard, synthesizers, etc.

The method

So, the CD contains audio for MSX. The first interesting track is the 15th, L5. It contains a program for MSX, which I ran in openMSX. Loading it is quite simple: I made a WAV copy of the track, dragged it into the window, and then typed CLOAD. After a short wait, I then typed RUN. It’s a fairly long animation (around 4 minutes) with audio. The animations are partly random on colors, and you can let the computer loop. In my emulator, it’s quite clear, but this version recorded from a real computer shows effects on the CD, related to composite display.

In the next pass, we have different colors

The CD

Music in the form of data

I didn’t immediately understand what tracks 16 (TCM) and 17 (TRH) contained. But looking on this site, I got my answer: music. The first track is the code to generate track 4 (This Is The Computer Music, TCM), the second to generate track 3 (Thriller, TRH). In fact, Makoto used an MSX computer connected to a Yamaha SFG-01 FM synthesizer, integrated into the Yamaha CX5M computer (I emulated this MSX model directly). Then you have to go through the Yamaha YRM15 software (a cartridge) to launch a composition software. And once in the latter, it is possible to load the content of the tracks (CLOAD) and play them (PLAY). You can probably have fun modifying the sounds and scrolling through the score correctly, as shown in this video starting at 9:30.

The first, TCM, contains about 2 minutes of music. Strangely, there is a big blank at the end, like more than a minute and 20 seconds, before a last sound (I shortened it in the video).



The second, THR, is in the same vein but lasts about 10 minutes.

Once loaded.