Old farts playing with their toys
greg.ewing at canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Mar 4 11:38:22 CET 2010
D'Arcy J.M. Cain wrote:
> Did you ever play Star Trek with sound effects?
Not on that machine, but I played a version on an Apple II
that had normal speaker-generated sounds. I can still
remember the sound that a photon torpedo (a # character IIRC)
made as it lurched its way drunkenly across the sector and
hit its target. Bwoop... bwoop... bwoop... bwoop... bwoop...
bwoowoowoowoowoop! (Yes, a photon torpedo makes exactly
five bwoops when it explodes. Apparently.)
I carried a listing of it around with me for many years
afterwards, and attempted to port it to various machines,
with varying degrees of success. The most successful port
was for a BBC Master that I picked up in a junk shop one
But I couldn't get the sounds right, because the BBC's
sound hardware was too intelligent. The Apple made sounds
by directly twiddling the output bit connected to the
loudspeaker, but you can't do that with a BBC -- you
have to go through its fancy 3-voice waveform generating
chip. And I couldn't get it to ramp up the pitch rapidly
enough to make a proper photon-torpedo "bwoop" sound. :-(
I also discovered that the lovely low-pitched beep that
the original game used to make at the command prompt had
a lot to do with the resonant properties of the Apple
II's big plastic case. Playing a square wave through
something too high-fidelity doesn't sound the same at
> I was never able to
> get it to work but supposedly if you put an AM radio tuned to a
> specific frequency near the side with the I/O card it would generate
> static that was supposed to be the sound of explosions.
> Of course, the explosions were happening in a vaccum so maybe the
> silence was accurate. :-)
Something like that might possibly happen for real. I could
imagine an explosion in space radiating electromagnetic
noise that would sound explosion-like if you picked it
up on a radio.
This might explain why the Enterprise crew could hear things
exploding when they shot them. They were listening in at RF!
More information about the Python-list