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Thomas Dolby Rocks the Computer in Studio 4A

Thomas Dolby, the mad-scientist-as-musician first boggled listeners in the 1980s with his smash hit, "She Blinded Me with Science." Fans will also remember equally arresting songs like "Hyperactive," "Airhead" and "One of Our Submarines."

Dolby's last studio recording was in 1993, and we haven't heard much from him since... at least not directly.

For one thing, he's been busy developing ringtones.

Thomas Dolby founded a company called Beatnik, which sold software to Nokia.

Now, about 300 million phones play polyphonic melodies thanks to Dolby's dabblings.

He thought it would be a brief hiatus from music, but the new business took him away from the stage and the recording studio for more than a decade. Now, he's playing and touring again, with a new CD of live performances called The Sole Inhabitant.

Thomas Dolby set up his equipment for us in NPR's Studio 4A earlier this month, and it's striking to see how times have changed for electronic musicians. Gone are the days of bulky synthesizers, tape loops and vacuum tubes.

Dolby's setup consists of a couple of small keyboards, a drum pad and a Macintosh laptop.

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