Posted by Jim Martin 04 March 2014
Best uses of technology… ever - singing printers, floppy drives and more
People have been hacking tech kit since day one, but a few creative individuals have taken hacking even further. Here are a selection of hard drives, printers and other kit doing things their designers never would have dreamed – mainly playing music.
First up, here’s a guy who clearly has a lot of free time. He’s hacked 13 floppy disk drives (remember them?) and a 3.5in hard drive so instead of storing data, their moving parts from a technological choir.
Floppy drives (and a hard drive)
Here are the drives playing Soft Cell’s Tainted Love, a chart hit from 1981, but you can watch or rather hear the drives playing a variety of other well-known tunes on Gigawipf’s YouTube channel.
Impressive though that may be, a single device can be surprisingly adept at reproducing a song. In this case an old 24-pin dot-matrix printer has been hacked to play the Benny Hill theme tune, but as with the floppy drives, you can hear it playing other melodies too.
Printers, fax machines & hard drive orchestra
Up next is a big-budget advert commissioned by Brother: 97 fax machines, scanners, copiers, hard drives, and printers were hacked to play Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin.
Games consoles, more floppy drives and hard disks
In this next clip, a Sega Mega Drive, Commodore 64, floppy disk drives and hard drives sing in unison (all hacked as in the videos above to work with MIDI controllers) to play a piece of music specially composed to give a “nostalgic farewell to forgotten friends”.
Here we have almost the reverse of the videos above. Instead of playing music, two record decks are attached to scissor arms which look reminiscent of a Sketch-a-graph.
In fact, the device draws spirographs. If you grew up in the 70s or 80s, you’ll no doubt have seen or even owned a Hasbro Spirograph set. More nostalgia!
Netflix sleep tracker
Finally, as part of Netflix's internal Hack Day just a week ago, engineers and designers worked out a way to 'hack' a Fitbit activity tracker so a movie or TV show would pause on Netflix if you fall asleep on the sofa.