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Games

It's Friday. Listen to This Dope Song Made on a Commodore 64

It also comes with a built-in visualizer that makes the glitchpunk visuals of 'Watch Dogs 2' look boring.

by Jordan Mallory
Apr 21 2017, 10:21pm

Above: "A Mind is Born" by Linus Akesson. Note: Video contains flashing.

A Mind Is Born is one part chiptune, one part music visualizer, and maybe also some kind of sleeper agent activation sequence, created for the Commodore 64 by Linus Akesson in an absurdly tiny amount of space. 256 bytes, to be specific, which is not even really all that much by 1982 standards, let alone in the bloated world of 2017.

To accomplish this feat, Akesson generated his music rather than composing individual notes, using a linear-feedback shift register, or LFSR, which is essentially a technique for generating pseudo-random values based on an input seed, with a finite number of potential values. By carefully modifying the LFSR and its associated frequency table, Akesson was able to mathematically generate his melody as a function of the program, rather than telling the program to play a long series of predetermined frequencies.

The LFSR also plays a part in generating the radical visualization, in tandem with other values controlling the drum and drone voices. Akesson gives an extensive and highly technical breakdown of the code on his website for anyone interested in things like interrupt handlers and video matrixes—we'll defer to his expertise, rather than trying to pretend like we know "stx vmptr+1" from Shinola. For the rest of us, A Mind Is Born is also offered in both Commodore 64 ROM and MP3 flavors on Akesson's site, the latter of which takes up literally 860,060% more space than the original.