Daphne Oram was the first woman to direct an electronic music studio, the first woman to set up a personal studio and the first woman to design and construct an electronic musical instrument. This happened back in the late 1950s when she used sine wave oscillators, reel-to-reel tape decks and other electronics that most of us vaguely remember. She went on to invent a machine in 1965 called Oramics that used hand-drawn patterns that were converted to music that would be stored magnetically.
Now, while folks like Moog and Stockhausen and others are probably more familiar, this was the first time I came across Oram's name and work and found this bit of history fascinating. The process that she used to create her music is a precursor to sampling, real-time streaming, image scanning and audio editing tools that we take for granted today.
Her pioneering work is on display now at London's Science Museum until the end of November. Included in the exhibit is a simulator that can you manipulate to give you an idea of what her original idea entailed on a modern touch screen.
You can see a screencapture video above of the iPhone app here and download it yourself. As the Brits would say, nicely done, bringing Oramics full circle.