S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M.: Freeware signal processing program for Macintosh OS 8.1

Many of the figures in this essay are screen images from S.P.E.C.T.R.U.M. (Signal Processing for Experimental Chemistry Teaching and Research/ University of Maryland), a Macintosh program that I developed in 1989 for teaching signal processing to chemistry students. It runs only in Macintosh OS 8.1 and earlier and on Windows 7 PCs and various specific Linux distributions using the Executor emulator.


Click to enlarge

SPECTRUM is designed for post-run (rather than real-time) processing of "spectral" or time- series data (y values at equally-spaced x intervals), such as spectra, chromatograms, electrochemical signals, etc. The program enhances the information content of instrument signals, for example by reducing noise, improving resolution, compensating for instrumental artifacts, testing hypotheses, and decomposing a complex signal into its component parts.

SPECTRUM was the winner of two EDUCOM/NCRIPTAL national software awards in 1990, for Best Chemistry software and for Best Design.


SPECTRUM can be used both as a research tool and as an instructional aid in teaching signal processing techniques. The program and its associated tutorial was originally developed for students of analytical chemistry, but the program could be used in any field in which instrumental measurements are used: e.g. chemistry, biochemistry, physics, engineering, medical research, clinical psychology, biology, environmental and earth sciences, agricultural sciences, or materials testing.

Machine Requirements: SPECTRUM runs only on older Macintosh models running OS 7 or 8, minimum 1 MByte RAM, any standard printer. Color screen desirable. SPECTRUM has been tested on most Macintosh models and on all versions of the operating system through OS 8.1. No PC version or more recent Mac version is available or planned, but if you have some older model Macs laying around, you might find this program useful. SPECTRUM was written in Borland's Turbo Pascal in 1989. That firm has long been out of business, neither the Turbo Pascal compiler nor the executable code generated by that compiler runs on current Macs, and therefore there is no way for me to update SPECTRUM without completely re-writing it in another language.

SPECTRUM also runs on Windows 7 PCs using the Executor emulator, which since 2008 has been made available as open source software.

The full version of SPECTRUM 1.1 is available as freeware, and can be downloaded from http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~toh/spectrum/. There are two versions:

The two versions are otherwise identical.

There is also a documentation package (located at http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~toh/spectrum/SPECTRUMdemo.hqx) consisting of:

These files are binhex encoded: use Stuffit Expander to decode and decompress as usual. If you are downloading on a Macintosh, all this should happen completely automatically. If you are downloading on a Windows PC, shift-click on the download links above to begin the download. If you are using the ARDI Executor Mac simulator, download the "HQX" files to your C drive, launch Executor, then open the downloaded HQX files with Stuffit Expander, which is pre-loaded into the Executor Macintosh environment. Stuffit Expander will automatically decode and decompress the downloaded files. Note: Because it was developed for academic teaching application where the most modern and powerful models of computers may not be available, SPECTRUM was designed to be "lean and mean" - that is, it has a simple Macintosh-type user interface and very small memory and disk space requirements. It will work quite well on Macintosh models as old as the Macintosh II, and will even run on older monochrome models (with some cramping of screen space). It does not even require a math co-processor.

What SPECTRUM does not do: this program does not have a peak detector, multiple linear regression, or an iterative non-linear curve fitter.

(c) 1989 T. C. O'Haver. This program is free and may be freely distributed. It may be included on CD-ROM collections or other archives.

T. C. O'Haver

Polish translation of this page by Valeria Aleksandrova.

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This page is part of "A Pragmatic Introduction to Signal Processing", created and maintained by Prof. Tom O'Haver , Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of Maryland at College Park. Comments, suggestions and questions should be directed to Prof. O'Haver at toh@umd.edu.

Last updated March, 2015.
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