Kyma Citings

References to Kyma in the Press

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Kyma, Max, SuperCollider, Csound, & cmusic in CMJ

Read what the inventors of Kyma, SuperCollider, Max, cmusic, and Csound had to say in answer to the following questions:

In a special issue of Computer Music Journal entitled Language Inventors on the Future of Music Software (, Carla Scaletti, Miller Puckette, David Zicarelli, James McCartney, Max Mathews, and Barry Vercoe talk about their work and speculate on what the future holds. The issue also includes a panel discussion transcribed from the Dartmouth Symposium on the Future of Computer Music Software organized by Eric Lyon.

The complete issue of Computer Music Journal is available at most bookstores (if not, ask them to special-order a copy of the Winter 2002 issue, Volume 26, Number 4 from MIT Press, ISSN 0148-9267). Subscribers to CMJ can access the issue on line at, and some libraries also have it available online at

Time for frequency

Kelly Fitz and Lippold Haken's paper "On the Use of Time-Frequency Reassignment in Additive Sound Modelling" appears in The Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. In it, they discuss their approach to getting around the temporal smearing problem inherent in spectral analysis. In addition to using their Loris Class Library, Fitz and Haken used Kyma to resynthesize some of the results in real time under the control of Haken's Continuum keyboard.

Data-driven sound in virtual reality

Understanding Virtual Reality: Interface, Application, and Design, a new book by William Sherman and Alan Craig published by Morgan Kaufmann, features a discussion of Kyma in the chapter called Aural Representation in VR:

For VR experience developers interested in creating very complex sounds in real time, hardware devices like the Capybara are an option. The Capybara is programmed using the Kyma language.  Kyma is a general-purpose sound creation language.  Kyma provides a visual programming language interface that allows a programmer to combine modules into a network that renders (in real time) a sound on a general-purpose audio engine (much like OpenGL produces commands to render on a graphics rendering engine). Because the samples are created in real time, any aspect of the sound can be controlled by any data stream...

You can order the book online through the publisher at or through at

Addicted to Macs

Matthew Wood, supervising sound editor on Attack of the Clones (, is featured in the August issue of MacAddict magazine ( In a QuickTime video interview included on the magazine CD, he describes how he got into using Macs and how computer games led him to a life of sound design. (Check out the equipment list for a mention of your favorite blue-eyed rodent!)

BT reveals all in EQ

Musician/engineer/producer/programmer/remixer/guitarist/vocalist Brian Transeau smiles enigmatically from the cover of the May 2002 issue of EQ magazine ( above a headline promising that he will "reveal all of his secrets" within. Starting on page 44, you can read about BT's early musical training (classical piano), about his early involvement in Trance and Dream House, about his film scores (Go, Driven, Tomb Raider, The Fast and the Furious), his producing credits (including last year's #1 hit: N'SYNC's Pop), and his sample CDs Breakz from the Nu Skool and Twisted Textures. By page 48, interviewer Mr. Bonzai starts quizzing BT on such topics as aleatoric music, and by page 124 they get into a long discussion of Kyma, real-time spectral morphing, phase vocoding, and a beautiful definition for granular synthesis: "Let's say you take a sound and draw it as a waveform on a piece of paper. Granular synthesis would be the act of tearing that paper up into a thousand pieces and having all the pieces touching, and then having the ability to throw and scatter those pieces around the room and re-congeal them at will." When Bonzai asks him "What is the latest gadgetry that you are using to stay ahead of the copycats?", you can probably guess what BT's answer will be... But you have to pick up a copy of EQ if you want to find out all of his secrets.

Elektronisches Sounddesign

Check out the April 2002 issue of the German pro-audio magazine Studio Post Pro ( for a detailed and informative overview of Kyma for use in film and advertising post production (starting on page 40).  Mathis Nitschke (who used Kyma to create the licker voice for Resident Evil) includes an extensive discussion of features and algorithms in Kyma plus interviews with Michael Kranz (tonemeister for the Bavarian Sound studios), Nigel Holland (supervising sound editor for Resident Evil), Pete Johnston (technical manager of The Tape Gallery in London), François Blaignan (sound designer whose long list of credits includes Star Trek and Virtuosity), and Carla Scaletti (of Symbolic Sound) talking about blue LEDs.

Kyma Citings, Sightings, Sitings

Harmony Central has a review of Kyma by David McClain:

The April issue of Keyboard magazine has a description of the new Aggregate Synthesis algorithms in Kyma 5.2 on page 46.

Global Bass Online has an interview of Kyma user John Paul Jones:,

The March issue of Bass Player magazine includes a mention of Kyma and a photo of John Paul Jones' Capybara-320 on stage for one of shows during last fall's King Crimson tour on page 14.


BT: The Year's Hottest Electronica Artist, Producer, Film Composer

The November issue of Keyboard features Brian Transeau (BT) on the cover. This interview reveals how BT composes and produces his music for such films as The Fast and the Furious, Driven, Go, and most recently Ben Stiller's Zoolander. BT has also produced tracks for 'N Sync and Britney Spears, and has remixed artists such as Madonna, Seal, and Tori Amos. He mentions Kyma several time, inclucing in a sidebar, where he is quoted as saying "...Kyma's my secret, don't print that. [Laughs.]"

Legible Kyma

Check out the May 2001 issue of Electronic Musician for a review of Kyma.5 written by EM editor Dennis Miller.

When you have a product that EM editors already billed as “the most powerful sound-design workstation on the planet,” what do you do for an encore? Symbolic Sound, maker of the Kyma System, faced that challenge. With the recent release of Kyma 5.11, Symbolic Sound found a way to make the system more powerful, easier to use, and less expensive.

Kyma Remix

Check out the Editor's Note on page 6 of the April issue of Remix (the one with John Digweed on the cover) where Chris Gil writes that being a great DJ requires more than mere turntable and mixing skills. A truly great DJ is one who also makes remixes and produces tracks. "Although Remix is certainly focused on DJs and their techniques, we're even more focused on music production. That means we're as interested in a $4,000 Symbolic Sound Kyma workstation as we are in a $400 Korg Kaoss Pad." (Maybe they would be even more interested if they knew they could get into Kyma for $3300?)

Symbolic Dreams from London

Visit your local book store to pick up the February 2001 issue of Studio Sound magazine ( Then start reading it from the last page, working forward. Lloyd Billing, managing director of The Tape Gallery, has a guest editorial on how he would "equip a dream multi-channel post production room". Along with his recommendations for digital console, monitors, microphones, and chocolates for the clients is a device he calls "the dream machine". "For those who seriously want to play around with sound, Kyma does the lot. In fact, it's the only DSP engine that gives you really unheard sounds... It really is a dream tool and the only creative get-to-bits tool available in one box." The article begins with a little background on Billing's impressive rise from tape-runner to tea-boy to the owner and managing director of a high-end 6 room post production facility in the heart of London's Soho district. For more on Lloyd's latest venture, check out

2001 Editors' Choice Awards: Hats Off to Our 31 Favorite Products of the Past Year, Electronic Musician, January, 2001: pg. 90

Excerpt: We've watched Symbolic Sound's Kyma system develop into an incredibly powerful sound-design workstation over the years, but version 5.0 really puts it over the top. There are so many new and enhanced features that we have to wonder whether there's anything this system can't do! … No matter how you cut it, Kyma is still the most powerful sound-design workstation on the planet!


Recording and Post––Sound Bites, Pro Sound News Europe, December, 2000

Thierry De Vries used Kyma tools and processing for sound design for a Belgian short film, EX.1870-4, directed by Christophe Van Rompaey. The characters didn't communicate traditionally; dialogue happened at an "intra-brain" level. Voice clicks were morphed in Kyma with dolphin sounds to generate the brain-dialog sounds in this film. The flesh-like elevator floor pass-bys were treated with Kyma-doppler effects.

Review: Kyma 5.0 by David Ozab, ATPM 6.09 September, 2000


Excerpt: Kyma 5.0 is an exceptional piece of software… With each version, the people at Symbolic Sound have made the impressive power of the Capybara easier to use. Kyma 5.0 is not an incremental improvement in this area… it is a genuine breakthrough… Kudos to Symbolic Sound. You have truly outdone yourselves.

Kyma 5, Keys, October, 2000

Synthese-System mit neuen Sounds. Das Synthese-System Kyma von Symbolic Sound wird jetzt in der neuen Version 5 mit über 1.000 neuen Sound- und Effekt-Presets ausgeliefert. Die Bedienung des komplexen Programms wurde weiter verbessert, unter anderem mit einem Virtual Control Surface, mit dem eigene Steuerelemente und Devices entworfen werden können. Zudem wurden Drag&Drop Effekt und eine neue Timeline integriert.

Software News, Pro Sound News Europe, September, 2000

Symbolic Sound has announced that Kyma 5, the sound design software, is now shipping. It comes with over 1,000 new factory patches in the sound library and over 360 modules in the Prototypes palette. Other new features include an on-screen sound browser to help locate and audition the sounds, a time line that lets you draw in parameter changes and record MIDI fader moves, and a virtual control surface with unlimited presents. There is also a "roll-the-dice" button for generating random parameters.

Software Vocoders, by Mark Vail, Keyboard, August, 2000

Symbolic Sound's Kyma is an integrated software and hardware DSP system built around a Mac or PC for sound design and performance. Synthesis and processing systems are assembled onscreen. Vocoding is but one of many processes available. While a basic Kyma system (including a Capybara•320 with four DSPs, 96 MB of RAM, four digital and analog 24-bit 100kHz audio I/Os, and the choice of PCI or PCMCIA interface to the host Mac or PC) can do a 75-band vocoder in real time, a fully loaded system can do 675 bands. Vocoder types range from narrow-bandwidth tunable vocoders for creating ambient backgrounds to highly intelligible for generating speech effects.

The Electronic Century Part IV: The Seeds of the Future, by Joel Chadabe, Electronic Musician, May, 2000.

Excerpt: Among the pioneers in DSP systems for composers is Carla Scaletti. In 1986, she began creating a software synthesis system that she called Kyma (Greek for "wave"). By the following year she had extended Kyma to include the Platypus, a hardware audio accelerator built by Kurt Hebel and Lippold Haken that sat alongside a Macintosh, received instructions, and generated sound. Scaletti's 1987 composition "sunSurgeAutomata" demonstrates the sound-processing and algorithmic abilities of the Platypus. By 1990, Scaletti and Hebel had upgraded the hardware to a system called the Capybara. In 1991, they formed Symbolic Sound Corporation and shipped the first complete Kyma system, available initially for the Mac and shortly thereafter for the PC. With its evolving hardware and continual upgrades, Kyma remains one of the most powerful sound-design systems available today.

Squashing, Stretching and Bending in Deep Space. Ken McGorry, Editorial Director, Post Magazine's Sound Library Directory, May, 2000.

Excerpt: …A new collection from Futurity focuses lovingly on the sci-fi genre. "Metropolis Science Fiction Toolkit"––99 sounds from deep space and beyond––is a good case in point. It sounds like a cross between "Forbidden Planet" and "Alien5." Futurity partner Joe Lawrence has a knack for imagining what passing space ships and the ambience of the dreadful caverns of heavy metal should sound like, and he and partner Jim Verderame serve it up on this new disk meant for the feature films and games markets. Lawrence's favorite box for generating these unearthly sounds is the Capybara•320, along with Kyma software, both from Symbolic Sound.

Spezialeffekte – "Wir sehen nur, was wir hören." by Manfred Dworschak, Der Spiegel, May 1, 2000.

This article describes the success that Francois Blaignan and Pete Johnston have had in using Kyma to do audio morphing in film and advertising.,1518,76925,00.html

New Gear@NAMM 2000. Keyboard, April, 2000.

Integration with Sentech Motor Mix, which features motorized faders, drew a few gawkers to the tiny outpost behind a big pillar where Kyma (*reveiwed July '98) was being shown. Also new in Kyma 5.0: a high-level user interface that includes a library of useful factory settings, a timeline for performance automation, and lots of new effects and synthesis algorithms.

Recording and Post—Special Report: Playing to the Gallery. London Post Facility uses Symbolic Sound System to Produce Unusual and Sought-after Effects, by Paul Ireson, Pro Sound News Europe, January, 2000.

Excerpt: UK: The Tape Gallery, one of London's leading audio post-production facilities, is pushing the boundaries of radio advertising thanks to unusual sound design techniques. Audio morphing––in which one sound evolves into another, rather than simply cross-fading––has been used with success on campaigns for both London Transport and Walker's crisps. "So far we've only used it on radio," says Pete Johnston, technical manager of the Tape Gallery, "but we're desperately waiting to do our first project with a visual morph as well."

In one of the recent LT radio spots to feature the technique, a female conductor's cry of "hold tight please!" is drawn out at its end, and morphs smoothly into a dramatic synth chord. In another ad, a woman's voice mutates swiftly into a cat's cry. the effects are quite dramatic, and not at all like crossfades. In part because the sound is so startling, it is used only sparingly. "It's not an everyday tool," says Johnston, "and it's the more adventurous agencies that tend to like it."

New Products—New Software/Hardware for Audio Production, Mix, February.

Symbolic Sound recently released Kyma.5, the latest release of its Kyma modular sound-design software. New in Kym.5: an easier-to-use graphical interface, a Virtual Control Surface that allows design of custom virtual surfaces using graphical representation, and a Hardware Control Surface that makes use of CM Automation's Motor Mix work surface via MIDI. Other new features include a Hot Sound Library with 400 examples, preset lists, drag-and-drop effects, multichannel panning and a Rolling The Dice feature that steps through random parameter settings.


Sound-Design—Jetz in Version 5: Die Sound-Design-Software Kyma, Keys, November, 1999.

Neu Kyma-Version. Auf der 107 AES in New York stellte die amerikanische Firma Symbolic Sound eine neue Version der Sound-Design-Software Kyma vor. Neu in Version 5 sind unter anderem Presetlisten der einzelnen Sounds, die Hot-Sound-Library und die Möglichkeit, eigene grafische Oberflächen zu gestalten. Zudem wird nun auch die Faderbox Motor Mix von CM Automation unterstüzt und auch die Bedienung einzelner Funktionen soll nun einfacher sein.

Running on Unledded—John Paul Jones * Making Zooma, by Paul White, Editor, Sound on Sound, November, 1999.


Bassist John Paul Jones hasn't let the grass grow under his feet since the '80s. Constantly in demand for his arranging and compositional skills, he's now produced his first solo album, "Zooma."

PW: This album features mainly drums and bass guitar, with additional reprocessing and textures generated by Symbolic Sound's Kyma sound design and synthesis system {see the 'More on Kyma' box on page 126]. The result is quite eclectic, and I'm curious to know how you conceived it. You could almost legitimately call it drum & bass, though of a rather different kind than most people imagine when they hear that term used?

JPJ: Well, yes, except that there are no programmed drums at all on this album. That's the way I like to play rock and roll; in fact the only programmed sounds are the sound effects. As you say, those came from Kyma, which can do any kind of synthesis you can imagine, FM, additive, granular, phase vocoding...

…....In about 1990 I was looking for a high-end DSP machine of some sort and came across an advert for Symbolic Sound. I read one of the papers that [company founder] Carla Scaletti had written, then called her.

PW: How many aspects of Kyma have you explored? For example, have you found anything useful to do with granular synthesis?

JPJ: The end of the first track on Zooma features granular synthesis. Basically, it's about being able to specify the parameters of a lot of envelopes controlling a lot of oscillators at the same time, something you can't achieve on analogue, because you generally only have a limited number of oscillators. With Kyma, you can have as many oscillators as the processor will run -- literally hundreds."

More on Kyma: As John Paul Jones explains elsewhere in this article, the system is very flexible, allowing for real-time synthesis in the computer in a number of styles from analogue-style subtractive, through FM and right up to modern day resynthesis and granular techniques. Real-time sampling, hard disk recording, and audio processing are also possible, which explains why the system has a lots of fans amongst sound designers and music-for-picture composers in the States (for example, the system was used to create some sound effects for the new Star Wars film "The Phantom Menace" earlier this year).

John Paul Jones Zooms Ahead, by Adrian Ashton and Karl Coryat, Bass Player, September, 1999.

Excerpt: "You'll need the volume about there," says an obviously happy John Paul Jones from the control room of his London home studio. After more than a decade with a highly innovative and successful rock band, and after a decade of producing, arranging, and guesting with numerous other successful acts, the former Led Zeppelin bassist is ready to press PLAY on his first-ever solo project.

JPJ: The other sounds all come from the Kyma system, which I'll be taking on tour. The Kyma is a software program that can manipulate any sound––it can listen to the bass audio and either react to it or process it. For example, you can hit a note and it will trigger some other sound. It's a very flexible design, so I can make it do what I want. On "Goose," a ghost bass appears the second time around and seems to be playing harmony––it's not! that's actually the Kyma system listening to the bass, doing a frequency analysis, and then re-synthesizing it and playing it back within certain restricted parameters. And it's doing it all live. I can use the program to create sounds I hear in my head, but sometimes you end up with happy accidents––if you're there to pick out the good stuff.

New Products—New Software/Hardware for Audio Production, Mix, August, 1999.

The Capybara•320 Sound Computaton Engine from Symbolic Sound is a hardware-based multiprocessor accelerator for Kyma sound design software, based on multiple Motorola DSP56309 chips running at a composite clock speed of 320 to 2200 MHz.

ECE Interview with Symbolic Sound Corp.

Read the interview with Symbolic Sound by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Phantom Sounds. Audio Media, July/August, 1999. "Newstalk" about the Star Wars sound team.

AM: What kind of system was constructed for the sound design?

Matt Wood, Supervising Editor: Initially Ben (Burtt) wanted to start using his Synclavier again and, on top of that, he used a full Pro Tools/24 system as opposed to tape. He recorded all his design from the Synclavier using the KYMA processor from Symbolic Sound on the way, which is a huge DSP engine that outputs to SD11 files straight into Pro Tools.

Finishing the Phantom Menace—The Complete Story of Post-Production for "Star Wars: Episode I." Shifting to Sound Design. Larry Blake, Mix, May, 1999.

On Ben Burtt, Supervising Sound Editor: His sound design work outside of the Synclavier includes speed manipulation with 1/4-inch tape, along with the Kyma workstation. "There are marvelous processing programs in it for pitch and speed changes," he says.


Keyboard Reports–Symbolic Sound Kyma. Joel Chadabe, Keyboard, July, 1998.

Excerpt: The Kyma (pronounced "kee-ma") system is the most powerful and flexible sound design and performance environment on the market today. If you're a professional who needs a distinctive sound palette, then read on––because Kyma may have just what you need. In the course of writing this review, I spoke with several professional sound designers to learn how they used Kyma. As Pete Johnston, at the Tape Gallery in London, said, "We tend to use it for things that we can't get other equipment to do, like sound morphing. It's a brilliant piece of equipment. I think this is going to be for the 21st Century what the Moog synthesizer was to the 20th."

Joel says: I suggest regular visits to the Symbolic Sound Web site, which contains useful tips, news, and new sounds. And you'll find that the Kyma package is full of examples, ideas, and possibilities that will get you going as quickly as you can say Beethoven's "Ninth."

For a taste of Kyma in action aim your web browser at Keyboard Online.

1998 Editors' Choice Awards: The 26 Coolest Products of the Year. Electronic Musician, January, 1998.

Excerpt: When it comes to sound design products, the Symbolic Sound Kyma system towers over all others. Whether you're doing music production; sound for games, the Internet, films, or TV; or working in a live or interactive setting, you'll find much to like in this amazing system.

Symbolic Sound Kyma 4.5—The world's finest sound-design tool. Dennis Miller, Electronic Musician, January, 1998.

Excerpt: It's not often that a single product totally dominates its class, but in the case of the Kyma sound-design workstation form Symbolic Sound Corporation, nothing else even comes close.


Kyma: The Ultimate Processor. Dennis Miller, Radio World, August 20, 1997.

Excerpt: Kyma is one of the most powerful systems with which I have worked, and continues to amaze me as I discover new features and options. Also, the rate of upgrades and enhancements is impressive. The system now includes modules for nearly every major type of synthesis and processing available.

Future Perfect: Run DSP, Dan Sicko. URB: Future Music Culture, V7 N55.

Excerpt: I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot about synthesis, but I do know a powerful interface when I see one. The techno producer bent on not being imprisoned by cliched sounds might want to consider Kyma's range of possibilities and ease of use.

Making Waves: Sound Synthesis on a Computer. Dennis Miller, Sound on Sound, May. 1997.

Part 2 of a short series on computer-based synthesizers, focusing on hybrid software/hardware systems and including Kyma.

No matter how fast and powerful our desktop computers become, there will always be a strong case for using dedicated sound hardware. Not only will musicians continue to have an insatiable appetite for power...but the non-musical demands for CPU cycles will continue to increase as well. By combining the signal processing chips found in most synths with a highly flexible, graphic front-end, some developers have taken a hybrid approach to desktop synthesis, combining the best of both worlds.

Modularer Cyberspace: Portrat Symbolic Sound Kyma 4.1 Thomas Alker, KEYS, January, 1997.

A feature article on software synthesis, including a portrait of Kyma and interviews with producer Oliver Lieb and Symbolic Sound President Carla Scaletti.


"The 1996 Anderton Awards"––Extended Dance Remix Version––Craig Anderton, Pro Sound News, December, 1996.

The "Order of the Tesla Coil/Mad Scientist" award goes to the KYMA synthesis system from Symbolic Sound. Imagine Digidesign's Turbosynth falling into the hands of a race of super-intelligent alien beings, and you'll get some idea of what this system is all about.

Kyma Sound Design Workstation: A synthesizer, sampler, digital sound processor, digital recorder//controller, sound analysis tool, and a re-synthesizer all in one box? Kyma, from Symbolic Sound, can be any or all of these. Mike Steer, Audio Media, June, 1996.

To request a reprint of this article, send your request and your mailing address via email to


Sound FX: When Hollywood Needed to Create the Perfect-Sounding Movie Villain, It Turned to Kurt and Carla. Paul Wood, Champaign-Urbana News Gazette, Thursday, August 3, 1995, page C1.

A feature story with color photos describing how Frank Serafine and Francois Blaignan used Kyma to process the voice of Sid 6.7, the cyber-villain in Paramount Picture's Virtuosity (released on August 4, 1995). It quotes Serafine on Kyma:

It is a kind of an intelligent, interesting computer that shapes sounds and routes and synthesizes and morphs. We're definitely into using it; it's cool. Pre-digital, we used to be able to do some real cool things. The real-time aspects of [Kyma] sort of bring you back to the good old days.

Symbolic Sound Kyma System 4.0: A synthesis workstation with unlimited sound potential." Dennis Miller, Electronic Musician, July, 1995.

A few minutes with a Kyma system, and you'll be certain that the future has arrived.


Of the Kyma workshop at the 1994 ICMC in Aarhus, Denmark, the German magazine Keyboards in their January issue wrote:

Auch der Kyma Workshop hinterliess einen nachhaltigen Eindruck. Dies lag nicht nur an der professionellen und ironischen Prasentation durch Carla Scaletti, eine der wenigen Frauen, die als Komponistin wie als Programmiererin erfolgereich ist. Es lag vor allem an den Qualitaten des Kyma Musikcomputersystems selbst.

Mike Rivers talked about Kyma in his 1994 AES Show Report to the newsgroup:

One kind of interesting music tool on display was the Kyma (pronounced kee-ma) system which consists of a Smalltalk-based graphical programming language with tools like oscillators, samplers, noise and signal generators, envelope controllers, filters, and processing algorithms, as well as MIDI controller inputs and outputs. The program allows you to build a synthesizer design on screen, kind of like an analog synth, and then control their Capybara processor unit (a card cage with up to nine 56001 DSP cards), to digitally synthesize any processing of whatever input source you select (including an A/D converter).

Symbolic Sound's Kyma demo at the 1994 AES also got a mention in Keyboard (page 24 of the February 1995 issue) by Michael Marans who got a kick out of Kyma's ContextFreeGrammar Sound.

French magazine Keyboards' October 1994 issue features a color screen shot of Kyma in the News section and describes it as a: systeme de synthese virtuelle.


International Computer Music Conference: Platypus, Granules, Kyma, Daton, & the DSP56001 in Your Future, Bob Moog, Keyboard, December, 1987.

One new language that acknowledges no distinction between sound synthesis and composition is Kyma, a music composition language for the Macintosh that views all elements in a piece of music, from the structure of a single sound to the structure of the entire composition, as objects to be composed.

Using these chips, the University of Illinois [ed. actually the CERL Sound Group] has already built a couple of prototypes of digital synthesizers. Their design, which they call the Platypus, was demoed in the conference's exhibit area. [ed. the Platypus was the predecessor of the first Capybara, and it was being demonstrated under the control of Kyma running on a Macintosh 512K].