DJ I, Robot

by Theresa O’Connor on 7 January 2003

from Wired, from a recent campus email:

Chris Csikszentmihlyi is the man behind DJ I, Robot, which is the first random-access, analog robotic DJ system. It’s made up of a computer and three turntables that can mix, scratch, cut, and beat-juggle like a human disc jockey.

“It’s a new means of composition and competition,” said Csikszentmihalyi, a professor at media arts and sciences at MIT. “What’s really been fun is coming across really strange sounds that you’re not expecting to and deciding that it’s not really a negative, but a positive.”

To create the new mixes, 80 breakdance songs were pressed onto each record. The location of each musical element — such as a particular measure, beat or audio sample — is indexed on the computer. Programmers mix tracks by dragging-and-dropping each element into a timeline on the computer, then an analog motor spins the platter at the programmed speed and direction.