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PlayCable music jukebox and other interesting tunes


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Hi all,


In amongst the programs in Joe and Dennis' archive is this beauty. It's a jukebox that plays five tunes. Three of these arrangements were broadcast to subscribers homes as part of the PlayCable game menu. We know this because @dave1dmarx posted some contemporary recordings on YouTube that he made as a child. Well, now we can hear these tunes in glorious JzIntv hi-fi. ;)

The Entertainer



@dave1dmarx 1980s recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvZp_k6s33o


12th Street Rag



@dave1dmarx 1980s recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDfvzo4vAsA


Music Box Dancer



@dave1dmarx 1980s recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0CX0vEg-WE


We also get to see what the original PlayCable logo looked like on the Intellivision, and perhaps a glimpse of the colouring of the menu splash screen shown in this clipping:




You will notice that The Entertainer has some "bubbles" at the end of the tune. These artefacts are also heard at the end of @dave1dmarx's recording. We originally thought that this might be caused by the omission of an "end of tune" marker, and the music engine subsequently ploughing through memory, blinding trying to play program code and data. However, with access to the jukebox source code, we can now see that for some reason someone has tacked a specific sound effect, called BEBOP, onto the end of the tune. Presumably, this was just some fiddling that accidentally made it to production. @dave1dmarx says that the "bubbles" were removed somewhere between late 1982 and early 1983.


The source code for all three of these songs dates from March 1982 and uses a set of macros to define the tune. These macros are played by a common three part harmony music player called TRIHRM that was written by @David Rolfe at APh.  David says that this was originally written to be part of the EXEC, but was relegated to an optional library to save on space during development.


The other two tunes in the jukebox are also quite interesting. The first is Ride of Valkyries...



This is the same tune used to signal victories in both Checkers and Sub Hunt. It also appears in the Easter Egg found in Conversational French.  

@David Rolfe explains that "it's a Caltech tradition to blast 'Ride of the Valkyries' through the dorms as a wake-up call when final exams come. This is no small thing; no one who attended Caltech can hear 'Ride' without feeling a rush of serious PTSD. So it wouldn't be surprising if a 'Ride' rendition were to come out of APh".


My belief is that this tune was written by APh and found its way to Jerrold in a Checkers ROM image or cartridge.  The source code for Ride of the Valkyries dates back to September 1979 is encoded using regular CP-1610 instructions rather than macros.  This might suggest it was constructed by ripping it from a ROM disassembly, rather than it being from built from legit source code.  Further evidence for this hypothesis is that the version of TRIHRM found in the jukebox differs from David's original EXEC version.  Instead, it seems to have been taken from Checkers and then tweaked slightly to integrate it into the music player framework.


The final tune is an arrangement of Take Me Out To The Ball Game...


This is the oldest of the tunes, dating back to June 1979. Like Ride of Valkyries it is encoded using regular CP-1610 instructions. Perhaps some of the instructions were not decoded correctly and this is why there are some odd notes?  I was wondering whether this song was intended to be used as the title screen or victory tune in MLB Baseball. Talking to David, he remembers working on the tune with Hal Finney, but he doesn't recall what it was to be used for.

On a related note, there are also a number of sound board programs that seem to have been used to test out sound effects that were taken from games. Most of these effects are the bleeps and bloops familiar to us all, such as YER OUT! However, a there are a couple of interesting ones. The first is GALSONG, the theme tune to Battlestar Galactica:



We know from this interview with Hal Finney that Space Battle originally had a version of the BSG theme in it, which was removed when Mattel didn't get the licence for the name. Perhaps this is that version of the tune?  We also know that Jerrold had access to a pre-release version of Las Vegas Roulette and Slots, maybe they had an early copy of Space Battle too? Before anyone gets excited, although there are PlayTape versions of Baseball and Space Battle in the archive, they're just the regular production versions.


Finally, there is SUPSONG, a version of the Superman theme...



The tunes for both GALSONG and SUPSONG date from mid 1981, and are encoded as data statements, rather than being macros or regular CPU instructions. Although the sound board version of SUPSONG dates from 1981, references to it can be found in other code going as far back as August 1979. David thinks this tune may also have been written by Hal, but he doesn't know what it was intended to be used for.


So there we have the Jerrold Music Jukebox and sound board.  As someone who likes a banging 8-bit chip tune, I think they're pretty cool. :music:

For those that got this far, your reward is a ROM image for a new rendition of 12th Street Rag, complete with 6-voice ECS support... 12thStreetRag.rom

















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3 hours ago, cmart604 said:

Awesome work as always! Now @Rick Reynolds and @nurmix are going to want to talk about this on our next Intellivisionaries episode and I'll have to fake my way through the technical discussion as usual ?

Perhaps you can take on the music selection from a socio-political point of view, and let the others concentrate on the technicalities?


By the way, those songs sure are high pitched. Whoever composed them (David himself?) sure liked to cause treble.

Edited by carlsson
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Ah, this is great, Decle!  Some new Outtakes background music... although I'd like to record them directly from my console so I can run it through my tube pre-amp and other processing gear that I used when I record game sounds and Intellivision music for the show.


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10 hours ago, Rick Reynolds said:

Super interesting stuff as always...


I love how @cmart604 has no problem volunteering @nurmix and I to do the reading necessary to be able to discuss this on the show!  Not like there haven't already been several interesting technical projects posted about that we need to cover...  ?

I like to help you guys challenge yourselves, if you're not moving forward you're dying. You're welcome! 

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  • 7 months later...

Wow!! I know I'm way late to the party here, but I haven't been checking in too much lately...   All I can say is amazing job as always, decle.  You really deserve some type of medal to dig this stuff up and preserve it.  Now if only I can get clean copies of the audio for the menus incorporated as part of my modded Flashback system, instead of my cassette versions.  Seriously, great work.  Thanks so much for bringing my memories to life.  ?

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By the way...  Ride of Valkyries WAS used in the PlayCable menus in 1982.  The menu had four different songs.  I didn't make a video for it because, to me it was a "commonly" available song, as it was used in both Checkers and Sub Hunt.  Sorry if I neglected to point out that it was actually an original menu song as well.

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  • 5 months later...

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