Tag Archives: 8-bit

DIY 8-bit Computer: Big Mess o’ Wires

Steve Chamberlin created an 8-bit computer from discrete logic and called his project the Big Mess o’ Wires.

The BMOW runs at 2MHz and has 512K RAM and 16K ROM.  It is constructed with primarily 7400 series logic and over 1048 wirewrap connections.

The feature list is very impressive:

Here’s a video of a music test from his site:

I am completely blown away by this project.  Has someone invited Steve to the Maker Faire??  I want to see this thing in person!

Check out his site and prepare to spend at least an hour looking at all of his plans and construction photos.

Totally amazing.


Blip Festival 2008 Video

My good friend Mark in NYC shot this awesome video of the 2008 Blip Festival at The Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.  He used a Canon HV20 digital HD camcorder with very impressive low light abilities.

Blip Festival 2008 from Mark M on Vimeo.

I also shot some photos of the event, most are available on flickr.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Warning, MySpace links ahead.  Shields up!

Cheap Dinosaurs making his Gameboy sing:

Blip Festival 2008

Bit Shifter, one of the major forces behind the 8bitpeoples label:

Blip Festival 2008

USK, performing with Anamanaguchi:


Blip Festival 2008 was awesome and we’ll definitely be looking forward to 2009!

Blip Festival Schedule Posted

The full lineup and schedule for the 2008 Blip Festival is now available.  The festival takes place in NYC a little over a week from now, on December 4th-7th.

From the festival site:

Highlighting the chipmusic phenomenon and its related disciplines, the festival aims to showcase emerging creative niches involving the use of legacy video game & home computer hardware as modern artistic instrumentation. Devices such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Nintendo Game Boy and others are repurposed into the service of original, low-res, high-impact electronic music and visuals — sidestepping game culture and instead exploring the technology’s untapped potential and distinctive intrinsic character.

The Blip Festival assembles nearly 40 practitioners selected from the chip music movement’s expansive global underground, taking care to represent as many as possible of the genre’s surprisingly diverse styles, geographical and technical scenes, communities, and traditions. The festival’s concert program will be supplemented by daytime events to be announced, including workshops, presentations, and screenings. The Blip Festival’s intended result is to provide a cross-section of a movement currently in explosive flux, teeming with artistic exploration, and poised at the cusp of global awareness.

What is so cool about 8-bit music and the Blip Festival?

As a child of the 80s, I was exposed to the 8-bit sound first through video games on the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Entertainment System, and much later through the vibrant chiptune scene that surrounded the Commodore Amiga computer.  I distinctly remember loading games on my C64 just to hear the music – it wasn’t unusual for a game to have music than graphics or gameplay.  Years later, I’m not sure if it’s because 8-bit music was ahead of it’s time or that electronic music today is embracing a more raw low-fidelity sound, but I still find the 8-bit sound fresh and interesting.  Certainly it does have something to do with the many talented chiptune artists that have chosen to exploit the 8-bit sound in ways that remind me of the old but are also completely original and new.

(By the way, the C64 is even now playing a hidden role in popular music – see the Timbalands controversy and the Sidstation, used most notably in Fischerspooner’s Emerge and Kernkraft 400’s Zombie Nation.)

If you can’t make it to the Blip Festival, one of the best introductions to 8-bit music is the 8-Bit Operators album.  The album features 15 covers of Kraftwerk by 8-bit artists and gives you a taste of a few very different approaches to the 8-bit sound.  Also check out the Gamewave Podcast, which often features artists that have performed at the Blip Festival in previous years, many of which will return in December.

Blip Festival 2008 Update

Archaic game and home computer hardware is recast into the unlikely role of musical instrument and motion graphics workstation in the BLIP FESTIVAL 2008, a four-day event showcasing nearly 40 musicians and visual artists occupying the international low-res cutting edge. The Blip Festival takes place DECEMBER 4 – 7 2008 at The Bell House, and is presented by Manhattan art organization THE TANK and NYC artist collective 8BITPEOPLES.

Several new artists have been announced, including Meneo, m-.-n, and Lissajou.


The full list is here.

Tickets and schedule (still TBD).

Blip Festival 2008

Blip Festival 2007

Alex Mauer performing at Blip ’07.

Blip Festival 2008: The Promo from Richard Alexander Caraballo on Vimeo.

Blip Festival 2008 is coming up in just a few weeks, on December 4-7th, in Brooklyn, New York.  The Blip Festival is a yearly event in NYC promoted by The Tank, a performing arts space in lower Manhattan.  Last year was truly epic and featured many prominent artists in the 8-bit/lo-fi music scene, including Alex Mauer, Bitshifter, and my new favorite 8-bit artist, Markus Schrodt.

Here’s a direct link to Markus Schrodt’s latest release, i amar prestar aen.  All of his music is available for download here.

Buy your tickets now, make travel reservations, and I’ll see you in December at Blip!