Tag Archives: unearthed

Unearthed: Kirschen’s “Magic Harp” for Commodore Amiga

Yaakov Kirschen and Sali Ariel pose with a Commodore Amiga running an early version of their Magic Harp software, probably in late 1986 or early 1987. The staff of LKP Ltd. (in back): Hedva (surname unknown), Dror Heller; Yuval Ronen; Orly Aknin; Marcelo Bilezker; and Orly’s sister, Sigi.
(Photo courtesy of Sali Ariel)

When I published the original four-part “Bringing dry bones back to life” series where I shared 10 pieces of previously-lost computer programs developed by Yaakov Kirschen, I couldn’t include “Magic Harp,” his original Amiga-based “artificial creativity” music composing software.

At the time, Kirschen’s wife, Sali Ariel, believed that it was likely gone forever, because she had thrown out all their 3.5″ disks in the 2010s.

But while preparing to move to a new home in Israel in early 2023, Ariel found an overlooked bundle of 17 Amiga disks, wrapped in paper and labeled “BeatleOdeon JFY backup set,” which had somehow survived the earlier purge.

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s “Music Creator” for IBM PC

Photo of the staff of LKP Ltd.

The staff of LKP Ltd. pose for a photo with a Commodore Amiga running an early version of their Magic Harp software, probably in the summer of 1986 or early 1987. In front, from left to right: Yaakov Kirschen and Sali Ariel. In back: Dror Heller; Orly Aknin; Orly’s sister, Sigi; Yuval Ronen; Marcelo Bilezker; Esther (Etti) Yotvet; and Hedva (surname unknown).
(Photo courtesy of Sali Ariel)

Decades before the debut of DALL-E, Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen was developing an “artificial creativity” system to let computers compose their own music, by extracting components of existing songs and combining them in new ways. The software was originally written for the Amiga, but business changes led them to abandon that platform and port the program to the PC. This blog post includes download links for the PC software.

UPDATE (Jan. 2024): Some of the Amiga software has been recovered and can be downloaded here.

Keep reading for more background on Kirschen’s multi-year effort to find a market for his musical innovation, or skip down to the links to the Music Creator disk images.

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s Atari ST projects

Screen capture of Mom talking in Yaakov Kirschen's 1985 program "Mom and Me" for the Atari ST.

Screen capture of Mom talking in Yaakov Kirschen’s 1985 program “Mom and Me” for the Atari ST,

The artificial personalities “Murray” and “Mom” were among the very first entertainment offerings for the Atari ST computer. They were also the first products released by Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen’s new “LKP, Ltd.” software studio in Israel, in partnership with his American firm, “Just For You, Inc.”

Keep reading for more background on Kirschen, LKP, and Just For You, as well as details about each of these programs.

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s independent Apple II projects

Screenshot of a title screen for the Apple II game "You ... and Doc Possum" running in the Microm8 emulator.

Screenshot of a title screen for the Apple II game “You … and Doc Possum” running in the Microm8 emulator.

Is “Doc Possum” a lost Learning Company game?

After the end of Yaakov Kirschen’s partnership with the Gesher organization, he had an idea for a secular educational game for the Apple II, which he pitched to The Learning Company. Around the same time he also made a few independent demos and experimental software.

Keep reading for more background on Kirschen and The Learning Company, as well as details about each of these programs.

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s Apple II games for Gesher

Screenshot of a title screen for the Apple II game "Nosh Kosh".

One of several title screens for the Apple II game “Nosh Kosh”.

Ever wonder what the Jewish version of Pac-Man might look like?

In the early 1980s, video games were exploding in popularity with kids and microcomputers were becoming available Israel. The Gesher organization saw potential in developing educational software specifically for Jewish students. From 1982 to 1984, Yaakov Kirschen worked with them on four games:

Keep reading for more background on Gesher and Kirschen, as well as details about each of the games.

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