It’s hard to write the first line of this, because in this case any reference to Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator” is wildly redundant. This is a calculator. He is the operator. This is a real, working HP48 graphing calculator playing MIDI events. You can go, like, graph stuff with it afterwards, do some Calculus. And we can thank a few people responding in a mobile music poll on this site for making it happen.

Andrew Turley, who has previously built a microfiche MIDI machine (thus making his way through arcane academic equipment as MIDI controllers), describes the project:

This is a demo of a project I built so that I could use my HP 48 to play a MIDI keyboard. The calculator is running a program that sends data to a Parallax Stamp Basic microcontroller over the built-in serial port whenever I press a button. The microcontroller is running software that converts the message from the calculator into a MIDI noteon or noteoff message that is then sent to the keyboard. This is a response to a poll in which a (small) number of users said they wanted the site to cover more calculator music.

Brilliant work, Andrew. And I have to say, now that you’ve done it, it’s a pretty practical little object to us as a controller.

Other calculator work, anyone?

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  • efluon

    oooh. how cool!
    the hp48 was so great. i loved mine very much, until i left it with my luggage in a train. used to use it as a beatcounter with delaytime-output, for djing, too. very nice calc..

  • zenzen

    Nice work on the HP48, but the microfiche-to-midi idea is pure genius!

  • About 2 years ago, I've seen a youtube video demonstration of a similar Russian programmable calculator Elektronika – which was used to control an Ableton project. I will try to find the link.

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  • qwerty

    Hey, guess what I use for a MIDI keyboard? It's something strange and unusual, you'll never figure it out…. I use a MIDI keyboard!

  • Me. No, not you. Me.

    Oh yeah. I like that cat!