Young Eran at the piano (Courtesy Eran Egozy) We generally start our “Secret Life” interviews by asking the scientists about their childhoods. And we almost always learn that their science is a variation on something they loved to do as a child. And so it is with Eran Egozy.
Many years before “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band,” Eran’s parents bought him one of the early Apple II computers (yes, it was a long time ago – the Apple II was also used to invent the wheel and to start the first man-made fires). Eran, 15 years old and already a serious musician, wanted to use the Apple II to make music, but—
“It wasn’t going to play music by itself—I had to actually input the data for whatever music I wanted. So, of course, what’s the piece that I have to enter in the computer? It’s Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. So I went to the library and got a score of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, all the parts—the violins, the woodwinds, the brass, everything—and I would start typing in all those notes into my Apple II. But this is not like it’s done today, where you have a mouse and you can drag notes onto the screen, or you have a keyboard and you can play it—I actually had to translate every note into some kind of machine code. So I would actually sit there and type all these hexadecimal values into the computer to translate Beethoven’s score into computer-speak. And every day, I would just be able to get a little bit more done—I’d probably be able to only input about ten seconds [of the score] a day [in three to four hours of work]. As I would enter this music, the sounds of Beethoven would waft through the room. Now, of course, it didn’t sound like a real symphony, but it also sounded like nothing else I’d heard at the time, because it was kind of this brand new thing that I was building.”
You can learn more about Eran as a grown up (and as a kid) by watching his videos and following his links. And if you’d like to ask him a question, you can do that in the blog post just below this one.