The Calibrated Oscilloscope, An Amazing Pre-Digital Device Able to Generate Shapes From Sounds

Mat of the really interesting gadget channel Techmoan took a look at the calibrated oscilloscope, the remarkable pre-digital device that visualizes sound through voltage changes and waveforms. By way of explanation, he rebuilt an old Tektronix 760A to show how the machine works. Mat also spoke about online resources that easily simulate oscilloscope music and visuals.

Oscilloscope demos have been around for a while, but until recently I wasn’t aware of them, and I spend at lot of my time looking at tech. Of course using oscilloscopes unconventionally is nothing new, the ‘first video game’ Tennis for Two used one as the display in 1958. …Displaying images on an oscilloscope is as ‘simple’ as playing sounds into it. The left and right audio channels create shapes plotted on x/y co-ordinates. I don’t truly comprehend exactly how it works, it just looks like magic and when you add in the additional complication of having those sounds form tunes, all I can do is sit back and admire the show.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.