View Full Version : PianoMan

February 7th, 2015, 02:15 PM
Has anyone heard of this program? It allows you to create stand-alone executables that play music over the pc-speaker. Generally, it works best on a 8088 machine, except for newer versions which also played on 286 and 386, etc.

I was mesmerized by these in my childhood, and I've collected around 30 of them or so. What I'm wondering is if anyone has any songs that they would be willing to share? I'd love to have them all (and share what I've got as well)!

February 7th, 2015, 02:33 PM
I don't know about a program, but there were a bunch of executables under the handle "PianoMan" with various melodies back in the early PC days. I remember the Maple Leaf Rag, Dona Nobis Pacem and a bunch of others. Harmonies were realized through very fast arpeggiation. I'll wager that the SIMTEL20 library archive has a bunch of these.

The 5150 ones still serve a very useful purpose--if one is writing an 8088 PC emulator, you can tell how good of a job was done in observing timing by listening to it running on the emulator and comparing it with the sound from a real 5150.

None of this was anything new--it was done on mainframes and it was one of the first things I did with my MITS 8800--coupling one side of the "interrupt enabled" LED through a small capacitor to an audio amplifier. What else are you going to do without a disk and 8K of memory? On the 8080, EI and DI are single-byte instructions, so they execute pretty quickly.

February 7th, 2015, 02:49 PM
Yup, those are the ones! I know they can drive some people up the wall, but I really like the way they sound. And yes, I use those files to test emulators as well. Even with Dosbox, I adjust the cycles until the music sounds right, then I know it's good for playing those old games.

I think I understood most of what you said, though in the last paragraph I started getting a little bit lost. :)

What is this simtel20 archive you speak of?

February 7th, 2015, 03:47 PM
Get out your CD burner! (https://archive.org/details/SIMTEL_0692) This is the treasure trove of old PD and Shareware programs for the early PCs.

February 7th, 2015, 11:50 PM
It's there, as PNOMAN40.ARC. Make sure you have arc or pkunpak handy.

February 8th, 2015, 09:23 AM
I suspect that WinRAR can unpack those as well. It certainly can handle a large number of archive formats.

February 8th, 2015, 09:39 AM
WinRAR cannot unpack SEA ARC files.

February 8th, 2015, 10:40 AM
That's not too surprising, I guess, considering the lawsuit back-and-forth that buzzed around ARC and PKARC back in the day.

February 8th, 2015, 11:06 AM
It could be a combination of that ("bad blood") but I think it's just because the format is too old. Most archivers don't unpack anything before LZH and ZIP. So, ARC, SQZ, ZOO, etc. from pre-1988 are left behind.