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ANTIC The Atari 8-bit Podcast


hosts: Randy Kindig, Kevin Savetz, Brad Arnold
email: antic@ataripodcast.com
twitter: @AtariPodcast
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/ataripodcast

 

Nov 21, 2017

Frank Schwartz and Richard Lewis, Virtusonics
 
Last last year, I received a batch of Atari disks. One of the disks was labeled Virtuoso Play Mode Sampler — a music demonstration disk from Virtusonics, a company I had never heard of.
 
Thanks to some old articles in Antic magazine, I learned a bit about the product and the company. In 1985, Nat Friedland first wrote about the Virtuoso software: "Virtuoso is such a unique new approach to musicmaking that it's not easy to describe. ... Virtuoso gives you a user-friendly method of tapping the extremely fast and powerful changes that a computer can control in every aspect of music performance. It bypasses the limits of traditional musical notation and uses an almost self-explanatory color graphic display that delivers mathematical insights into the structure of music. ... In technical terms, Virtuoso is a sound generator that produces four voices from the POKEY chip. You can make instant real-time changes in the voices in any of six parameters. Four computers running Virtuoso can be linked together to have up to 16 independent channels controlled by one Atari."
 
Virtusonics was primarily three people: Frank Schwartz, the programmer; Joseph Lyons, the music guy; and Richard Lewis, the CEO. I have interviewed two of them. First you'll hear my February 15, 2017 interview with the programmer/R&D director Frank Schwartz. Then, you'll hear the February 10, 2017 interview with CEO Richard Lewis. I haven't been able to interview the other partner, Joseph Lyons, who is serving 24 years to life in prison.
 
After our interview, Richard Lewis sent me an envelope of Virtusonics papers and disks. The material includes the preliminary version of Virtuoso Software, and the final release which by then was called Virtuoso Desktop Performance Studio, boxes, manuals, flyers and advertising slicks, and stock prospectuses. I scanned and digitized all of the material, which is now available at the Internet Archive.
 
Teaser quotes: 
Frank Schwartz: "Change the curvature of the sine wave just via software. And that was a concept which was revolutionary in those days."
 
Richard Lewis: "We were criticized by a lot of the top names in computers back in the '80s. As, how that this small company in an apartment in New York City come up with something that we've been working on for years and we cant do?"
 
Virtuoso Desktop Performance Studio software and scans
 
Virtuoso Software Preliminary Version
 
Virtuoso Play Mode Sampler demo video
 
Virtusonics advertising slicks
 
Virtusonics Stock Prospectuses
 
Desktop Performace Studio unboxing
 
Play it Again, Atari, Antic magazine
 
The Story Behind Virtuoso, Antic magazine
 
Desktop Video for Atari XL/XE, Antic magazine
 
Joseph Lyons news (2000)
 
Frank Schwartz, DJ Feral