The Atari Punk Console
has become the popular name for a simple circuit that I first described as a "Sound Synthesizer" in Engineer's Notebook: Integrated Circuit Applications (1980) and then a "Stepped Tone Generator" in Engineer's Mini-Notebook: 555 Circuits (1984).
The circuit created a sequence of tones whose frequencies vary in distinct steps as a potentiometer was adjusted. Some in the electronic music community began experimenting with the circuit, and it is eventually labeled the Atari Punk Console by Kaustic Machines
. "Atari Punk Console" yields 15,100 hits in a Google search. The circuit even has its own Wikipedia page
Thanks to YouTube, you can check out some sounds from the Atari Punk Console from the comfort of your computer desk. For example, here
is a version of the circuit built inside an Altoids box. Go here
for a list of more than 200 video clips showing additional implementations of the Atari Punk Console.
Even older than the Atari Punk Console is the integrated circuit that makes it possible, the venerable 555 timer designed by Hans R. Camenzind for Signetics. The 555 was introduced in 1972 and continues to be one of the most popular integrated circuits ever designed.