The MD-70 reproduction, built for the video:

MD-70 video on YouTube


The MD-70

It seems like I've written this story somewhere before. I know that it happened, so maybe that is what I am thinking about. It concerns the MD-70, Billy McPherson, Alan Wells, and myself. It is about an electronic device I built in college and the ensuing attempt to use it in a frolicking manner. The MD-70 worked like a charm. The ensuing attempt to use it in a frolicking manner eventually failed like a charm.

Though the Optical De-esser #31 represents the height of my electronic design achievements, the MD-70 certainly brought joy into the world. De-essers are capable of bringing happiness into the world, but not joy. Music may bring joy, and a de-esser may be used to enhance a music recording, and that may bring happiness but not joy. Joy is special. The MD-70 brought joy to the masses. To Billy and me anyway.

There are things at Radio Shack called IC cookbooks. You can't cook with them, but they provide useful integrated circuit designs on a basic level. One such design was what is called a one-shot timer. You essentially press a momentary switch and the one-shot timer puts out a high signal (from its normal low state) for a period of time determined by a resistor, a capacitor, three pages of advanced mathematics, and some unknown voodoo that some people pretend to understand but no one really does. This high signal can be used then to light up an LED, sound a buzzer, trigger another circuit, etc.

If you are imagining about now that the triggering of another circuit concept is going to factor into the remainder of this story, you are wrong. No, the creative reader will have noticed, buried in the depths of the aforementioned list, the item "sound a buzzer." It doesn't require much imagination to consider the implications of a device which, when a single button is pressed, erupts into an unstoppable, incessantly steady, unscrupulously annoying noise. It would be like having the Emergency Broadcast System at your disposal. Upon this realization, Billy's and my young and ornery minds were filled with the first of many joys the MD-70 would bring.

Thus, after several minutes of research and development and market analysis, the design for the MD-70 was born, and construction commenced. Billy went off to make a cream cheese pie and I to build our monster. It was a nice blue box about the size of a chalk board eraser. It had a shiny red button. Four screws held the box together. Initial tests revealed that the MD-70, upon depression of the shiny red button, produced a 1kHz sine wave, at a volume capable of blotting out the existence of life in a thirty mile radius, for seventy seconds. No amount of button pressing after the sequence began would stop, shorten, or lengthen the seventy seconds of mind-numbing noise. Billy and I were elated.

We decided to name our creation the MD-70. The seventy part may seem obvious. The MD part may conjure up images of medical doctors. This is erroneous. The true source of the acrostic comes from an infamous book by a man named David Noebel titled The Marxist Minstrels. In his book, Mr. Noebel boldly claims, in addition to numerous assertions that the Beatles were communist operatives, that "Those low frequency modulations coupled with that pulsating beat cause moral inhibitions to drop to a dangerously low level or be wiped out altogether." It was a reference to one of many evil components of rock music. Billy and I were fascinated with the book and this line in particular. Having had our own moral inhibitions wiped out altogether years earlier by rock music, we theorized that "Those high frequency modulations coupled with that unstoppable non-pulsating beat" would likely cause the same effect. We named the box the "Moral De-inhibiter-70" which was later shortened to MD-70.

Our theory was correct. Within a few days we had successfully de-inhibited several of our friends. There was much joy. Nobody liked the MD-70 but Billy and me, but we were having a grand time leaving it in conspicuous places and hiding around the corner with our ear plugs in and waiting for our next victim.

There are three kinds of people in the world. The first kind is the woman, which, according to her natural maternal instincts, sees any foreign object as a threat to her offspring and thus turns her nose up at it and walks away. Sometimes woman can be heard saying some such utterance as, "those idiot men."

The second kind of person is the man, who, having an easily stimulated nerve ending where the woman has a brain, sees any button as his own to press. Here we have the best victim for the MD-70. Man will often press the button repeatedly during the noise sequence and continue pressing the button, starting the sequence again and again.

The third kind of person is the man who has a greater desire to take things apart than his desire to push buttons. This is where Alan Wells comes into the story. One night, while Billy and I were in the depths of the Oliver Powers Memorial Audio Suite recording a song, Alan Wells was in his office down the hall taking a stealthy screwdriver to the four screws that hold the MD-70 together, having discovered the MD-70 sitting on his desk.

Thus ended a period of uninterrupted joy. The MD-70 was reassembled and continued to terrorize the town of Norman, but the effect was somehow diminished thereafter. I realized, of course, the answer to our problem. But, even though there are many metal boxes in which an MD-70 could be built, I have never learned to weld.

© 2015 Dane Tate