A history of Notator Logic

The humble Commodore 64 was the machine that was the initial home of Cubase, as we found out last time. However Cubase was not the only one of the well known established sequencers that can trace its heratige back to this machine, Logic Apple's flagship sequencer can also trace its roots back to the Commodore 64 as we shall find out here.

So lets go back to the beginning, right back to the Commodore 64 and a curious little program called Supertrack by Gerhard Lengeling of C-Lab. While the program looked like it had been written in Basic, it was as the review in Sound On Sound in May 1986 discovered, a very competent and capable little program with some hidden depths. While it didn't have the refinement of Pro-16, it did introduce a very poweful pattern based editing system similar to the drum machines available at the time, and gained a small but loyal following.

Notator Main Screen

Notator Score EditorIn 1987, C-Lab released Creator on the Atari ST, which took the pattern based sequencing idea's from Supertrack and applied them to the mouse driven capabilities of GEM. Like Steinberg's Pro-24, Creator had a number of editing options which were not easy to use on a keyboard only system like the Commodore 64, but unlike Pro-24, Creator lacked any score editing facilities. This changed a few months later with the release of Notator, which had all of the editing options of creator but with the addition of a dedicated score editing page. For many people the score functions of Notator were second to none, and if you were used to pattern based editing systems the workflow provided by Creator and Notator were easy to pick up and learn, and thanks to this, C-Lab were quick to establish themselves alongside Steinberg in many professional recording studio's around the world.

For a number of years there were incremental updates to both Creator and Notator and versions were realeased for the lower end of the market. Hardware was released to add functionality to the package such as additional MIDI ports and syncronisation interfaces, some of which also acted as copy protection for the program. Things were going well until the launch of the AtariTT030 computer, when it was discovered that neither Creator or Notator would work with the new machine. There were rumors of an imminent fix so that the programs would work, but nothing was forthcoming from C-Lab, but then again, why should any Creator or Notator user need a TT when they could get all the performance they needed from the existing ST range?

In the early 1990's things became clear with the launch of Notator Logic on the Apple Macintosh, which like Cubase before it, had Notator Logic 1.5taken the principles of Notator and applied a new 'Friendly' drag and drop interface to the inner workings of the program. Not long after, Notator Logic was released on the Atari platform, with the added bonus of being compatible with the Atari TT030. At last the flagship machine was useable, so long as you upgraded to the latest and greatest version of the program.

By this time, the Notator Logic programmers had seperated from C-Lab, forming their own company known as Emagic and Atari were starting to tell the world about the new desktop computer, the Falcon030. Notator Logic could also take advantage of the Falcon030's advanced screen resolutions as well as the extended memory offered by the new machine, however as many observers noticed, the Atari market was lagging behind when it came to additional features and updates. Notator Logic had audio recording and editing added to the Mac version before it came to the Atari Falcon version, though with Atari abandoning the home computer market in mid 1993, Emagic's reasoning seemed to be sound judgement.

But then C-Lab returned in 1995, entering a licence agreeent with Atari to manufacture the Falcon030 under the C-Lab badge, Emagic updated the audio facilities, but despite C-Lab promising new versions of the Falcon, beyond adding recommended fixes and re-casing the machine, the Falcon was the same machine it had always been and now looked dated next to the current versions of both the Apple Mac and the generic Windows PC. The Falcon quietly vanished, and soon after Atari platform support stopped.

Emagic were later bought by Apple and Windows support ended with Logic version 6. At the time of writing this, Logic Professional is at version 9 bundled in a pack called Logic Studio with supporting audio files, plug-ins and applications. It has grown far beyond the versions known by Atari users, but at its heart, the original Logic environments that made the original program so flexible for its users is still there, but well hidden under the new user interface introduced in Garageband and adopted by Logic version 8. Under Apple's stewardship, Logic continues to grow, though arguably its growth these days is held back by a company that at times seems hell-bent on secrecy.