AEIOU Sometimes Y by Ebn Ozn


A couple of weekends ago I ran across a big box of old cassette tapes in my garage. Last year I converted some of them to mp3 format but not all of them, so after connecting an old Kenwood cassette deck to my computer last week, I decided to finish the job.

Like many kids, I spent a lot of my time (and cassettes) recording songs off the radio. I wasn’t very organized in my efforts and so many of my old tapes contain duplicate songs. On one thirty minute cassette I managed to record two copies of “Spies Like Us” by Paul McCartney and another two copies of the Chicago Bears performing the “Superbowl Shuffle.” There are lots of abrupt stops and starts as well, as five seconds into some of the songs I must have simply decided… “nah.” Regardless of duplicate songs and false starts, I’ve certainly enjoyed listening to those tapes again. It’s a lot like listening to radio from the 80s, DJ banter and all.

One song I had completely forgotten about was Ebn Ozn’s “AEIOU Sometimes Y,” which appeared on the tape pictured above. The song was released in 1983 by the oddly named band which included Ned “EBN” Liben and Robert “OZN” Rosen. According to Wikipedia, AEIOU “has the distinction of being the first commercial single ever recorded entirely on a computer in the United States.” Although this song had some exposure both on the radio and on MTV in the early 80s, both the song and the band seem to have faded from existence. The pair only released on album together (“Feeling Cavalier”), and broke up in 1985. Ned “Ebn” Liben passed away in 1998.

Analog to Digital Conversions

How I do analog to digital conversions

I spend a lot of my spare time doing analog to digital Conversions. This includes diskettes, vinyl records, and video cassettes, among other things. Sitting on a shelf next to my main computer, I have the following devices:

That floppy disk drive you see on the bottom left is a Commodore 1541 disk drive. It’s connected to a Zoom Floppy board. This allows it to connect to my PC via USB. The Zoom Floppy allows you to convert real Commodore floppy disks to D64 disk images, which can then be played on your PC by using a free emulator. (You can also go the other way and convert downloaded D64 disk images into real floppy disks.) Using the Zoom Floppy, I converted the vast majority (basically, the ones that still worked) of my old diskettes into virtual D64 disk images.

That thing on the bottom right is a run-of-the-mill dual deck VHS/DVD-R unit. Mine’s a Magnavox MWR20V6, which (when I bought it) cost just over a hundred bucks at Walmart. The device is very simple to use. Simply place a VCR tape in the left hand slot and a blank DVD in the right. The device will make a copy for you. Occasionally a tape will be too old to be able to copy. That’s what the device sitting on top of my 1541 is for. It’s a video booster/stabilizer. With it I can run video out of my VCR, through the booster, and then into my machine’s video capture card. I have lots and lots of old video tapes full of old television shows, movies, and music videos that I’ve turned into DVDs.

On top of that VCR sits my Ion USB turntable. It has USB out, which I can run directly into my computer for converting vinyl to mp3s. The turntable also has built-in RCA cables, which allows you to connect it to an amplifier and use it like a regular record player. I have read reviews of this model where people have complained that the sound quality is not as good as some $500 turntables.

In its defense I would say this cost $100. And I most commonly use it to convert vinyl records I find at thrift stores and garage sales, so at least for me, any decrease in sound quality is more likely to come from the source media, rather than the player. There are thousands of records that never officially made it to cassette or CD. Any time I find an interesting one out in the wild, I buy it and dump it.

I have a few other devices, including a dual-cassette unit for converting cassettes to mp3s, and a couple of scanners for turning books into PDF files. All things in my life will go through Analog to Digital Conversions. With my eventual goal is to preserve all the analog media I own before it inevitably rots.

This is how I hand my analog to digital conversions. How do you do it?