JSU's Bell Tower Now Peals Through Computer Technology
Jamie M. Eubanks
JSU News Bureau
JACKSONVILLE -- January 11, 2001 -- The bell tower in Bibb Graves Hall at Jacksonville State University has long been silent with no "hunchback" to play its melodies. The most recent system had been installed over 20 years ago and had all but died. But since the Christmas holidays the bells have been ringing on schedule.
There are still no bells and no real hunchback. The entire system is now run by a computer housed in the Phone Center in the basement of Bibb Graves. Evin Thompson, Manager of University Communications, programs the computer so it runs on schedule.
"The system is completely programmable," comments Thompson. "If we wanted it to ring at 3:02 in the afternoon, it would."
A microphone, which is on order, can also be added to make announcements. A 49-key keyboard accompanied the computer. This would allow someone to perform special music through the system.
JSU bought the bell system from one of the few remaining bell companies in the U.S. Only one member of the company was present for installation, so much of the installation was performed by the phone center technicians. Several custom-made mounts also had to be constructed by a local machine shop to support the speakers in the bell tower.
The selected tunes are stored in the computer's memory from Auto Bel Cards. These tunes range from the Star Wars Theme, Moon River, songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein and many more. On Sundays, the music takes a more somber tone with songs such as Amazing Grace.
Chiming can be heard at the top of every hour between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. At noon, the hour is chimed and three songs play immediately after.
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