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circuit bending

Circuit bending is the practice of modifying existing electronics items, most often toys, to create other items, usually musical instruments. The practice is attracting an increasing number of hobbyists, probably at least in part due to the increasing number of electronic toys and gadgets available. In April 2004, New York City hosted a circuit bending festival, called "Bent." The festival featured how-to workshops and displays, including a circuit bent concert series and a Furby installation.

Reed Ghazala, known as the father of circuit bending, conceived of the practice in the late 1960s. The then-adolescent Ghazala was inspired when a small, battery-operated amplifier in his desk drawer shorted out and began to make unearthly noises. Ghazala (quoted in Wired ) describes the moment: "Immediately I thought -- if this can happen by accident, what can happen by purpose? And if this can happen to an amplifier, a circuit not supposed to make a sound on its own, what would happen if you did the same thing to keyboards, radios and all the other stuff that already makes a sound of some kind?" One of Ghazala's most recent projects involves a womb-sound synthesizer designed to soothe infants. After he's finished with it, the artisan claims, "It shall soothe no more."

This was last updated in September 2007

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