MATRIXSYNTH: A Visit to Oberlin's TIMARA Program Featuring the Bell Labs Hal Alles & Other Vintage Synths

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Visit to Oberlin's TIMARA Program Featuring the Bell Labs Hal Alles & Other Vintage Synths

Laurie Spiegel Playing 1977 Bell Labs Hal Alles Synth

Uploaded on Jan 26, 2007 Laurie Spiegel

Above: a now classic video of Laurie Spiegel performing on the Bell Labs Hal Alles.

Mark Boyd of Audulus, Endangered Audio Research and Bimini Road met up with Peter Swendsen of Oberlin's TIMARA program to talk synth. Mark showed Peter Audulus, and Peter showed Mark TIMARA's collection. Included was the historic Bell Labs Hal Alles, the first realtime digital synthesizer; made famous by synth legend Laurie Spiegel. See the video above (1st posted here, and then here with a second video).

Pics include the Bell Labs Hal Alles, vintage Buchla & Music Easel, ARP 2600, Blue EML 200 & Silver EML 300 Manual Controller, STEIM cracklebox, and an EMS VCS3 Putney.


  1. Does that Bell Labs Hal Alles still actually work?

  2. Unfortunately not. Apparently it was dismantled. via this Sonic State post: "The demise of Alice is quite a sad story, after only four years the the synthesizer was dismantled as it was far too expensive too be commercially viable. In it's short life it only had one full composition written on it..."

  3. Shame. Still a nice box though ;-)

  4. Ah! According to Laurie's own comments on that Sonic State page, "The system was not dismantled as it says here, but donated to the Oberlin College Music Dept. For all I know it is still there."

  5. I have confirmation from Mark that it no longer contains the original electronics but they are working on making it functional with new internals, specifically an Arduino: "it was an in-process machine and they would have saved the electronics if they could have (who knows what they looked like). It was donated to Oberlin in the 80s and probably hasn't done much until recently with the Arduino."

  6. Great, thanks for the update. I really hope they get it sounding something like the original again.

  7. Alice is IL Harmor's Grandmother


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