Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy Birthday I.B.M. - Thanks For Changing Everything


Back on June 16, 1911, a group of technology companies merged and called themselves the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. Kind of catchy but later in 1924 they decided they needed something catchier and so renamed themselves International Business Machines which is now better known to the world as IBM. 


IBM has dominated the technology sector for most of it's 100 year history by having the uncanny ability to foresee where technology is heading and having the right product mix available to support the need. They also were smart enough to recognize a dieing technology or something well on it's way to being a commodity and got out of that business before losing money. 


Some examples of this would be getting out of the timeclock business, selling off their typewriter division to a little company called Lexmark ones they recognized the word processor was about to crush the once mighty typewriter, selling off their hard drive division to Hitachi even though they invented them, and one of the most surprising was selling of their PC division to Lenovo back in 2004 for a cool $1.8 billion. Considering how cheap and dirty the PC market has become, you can't say it wasn't a smart move on their part. 


Some other inventions to their credit include the web server, the punch card, electric typewriters, mainframe computers, laser surgical procedures and nanotubes to name a few. Although other companies come to mind when the subject of innovation comes up, the fact remains that in 2010 alone, IBM had a total of 5896 new patents to their name which is the most of any company in the world including GE, Apple, Google or Sony.

That's not to say they haven't made a few mistakes along the way. Back in 1981, when they introduced their Personal Computer, they hired a little known company to create the operating system. Since IBM believed that the hardware was mightier than the software, they agreed to allow the small company to keep the rights to the software and allow them to license the operating system, or DOS, as they wished. This little company was Microsoft and that deal helped make Bill Gates one of the richest men in the world.


Years later IBM tried to jump back into the operating system market and challenge Microsoft with their own version of an operating system but needless to say, Windows prevailed and IBM stuck to what it does best. 



 


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Retro Music Producer of the Day - Arthur Baker



One of the driving forces in early hip hop and Electrofunk was DJ / producer Arther Baker. Starting as a club DJ in the early 70s, he began experimenting with the new electronic sounds of the day and began producing remixes on analog tape. Long before digital took over, to create a quality mix required skill and patience since most of what you were doing was pretty much live. You needed mad skillz back in the day not like these days were software downloaded for free can create a remix on a whim.

Though you may not have heard of him, you certainly have heard his work since his collaborations include artists like Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force, Pet Shop Boys, Cyndi Lauper, Hall and Oats, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, ABC, Nenah Cherry and New Order to name a few. He was actually responsible for taking an obscure, instrumental piece from a 1984 New Order album "Lies, Power and Corruption" and churning it into the now classic Blue Monday.  



His style was easily recognizable with heavy emphasis on the rhythm track with heavy use of drum machines and 808 sounds that pretty much defined the genre. He brought some contemporary  artists to the mainstream with his remixes and also forces some artists to expand their horizons a bit by introducing new life into their usual style.



In 1985, he and Steven Van Zandt created Artists United Against Apartheid and created the anti-Apartheid anthem "Sun City" which helped raise global awareness of Apartheid in South Africa and was credited for being a major factor in it's eventual demise. (Who says music can't change the world ?)  


His influence is still felt today and continues to inspire new artists and DJs as well as producers and remixers. Here's a few more classic examples of his early style.







  

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Retro Video of the Day - Babe We're Gonna Love Tonight


Growing up in Canada in the 80s exposed me to many Euro inspired music groups and to be honest back then I wasn't that in tune with who was who in the music world so every once in a while I'd pick up on a group and think they were some avante garde, new wave group from the U.K. or France. Lime was one of those groups. 

Formed in Montreal in the early 80s by the husband and wife team of Denis and Denyse LePage, they took full advantage of the exploding electronic music scene and created a bunch of Euro-disco inspired tracks. The story of Lime does have a few twists in it though (Lime twist.....get it ?....never mind) with some speculating that Denis and Denyse were in fact the same person that recorded both the male and female parts himself and used two attractive people to front the band when touring kinda like Milli Vanelli ended up doing years later. Regardless, they did leave behind some club classics.

Babe, We're Gonna Love Tonight is one such classic from their second album Lime II released back in 1981. It reached #6 on the U.S. Dance charts in 1982 and the video has all the classic elements of music videos from the early 80s. Cheesy graphics, awkward edits, cheap effects, bad lip syncing, boring dance routines and the list goes on. Not sure if the couple in the video are the actual band or the "attractive" people chosen to front the band on tour. Either way though - this track sounded great in a crowded club and always got the party started back in the day. 






Tuesday, June 7, 2011

When Weiners Were Hot Dogs

It kind of sucks when things you grew up with and liked or possibly loved get twisted into something different and are forever tied to some stupid act or worse a really really really really dumb guy. When I was a kid, Oscar Mayer was synonymous with delicious hot dogs or bologna. A wiener was something you looked forward to at a ballgame or a cookout. Now, when someone says wiener, you immediately think of:




Oh sorry, that's a picture of a twit not a wiener........ or is it both....... hmmmm, so confused now. Honestly though, who could have seen it coming. Anthony Weiner always looked so confident, so professional and well adjusted. A man of power and resolve. Why would there be any reason after enjoying moderate political success that he'd crave and need the admiration of young women to feel powerful and accomplished? I'm sure as a young lad he got his ya ya's out so that as an adult he could keep his libido in check. After all the action he must have got in high school and college he'd surely be able to keep his wiener in his pants right ?


   Oh snap.......... never mind.