Sound Sales Inc. Powerhouse 8 Track Rhythm Unit ad from page 13 of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine June 1977.
I first became intrigued by this ad because I had not heard of what is essentially an 8-track drum machine. For those of you too young to know what an 8-track is, I recommend you read this Wikipedia page.
As I did more research, I became even more intrigued with the parent company, Sound Sales Inc., and got caught up in the rather sad story involving what has been described as 'the accidental loss' of the well-known Mellotron name by the original manufacturer, Mellotronics.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Lets start at the beginning...
While scanning old issues of Contemporary Keyboard magazine the other day, I noticed that Powerhouse 8-Track Rhythm Unit ads had been showing up quite regularly as far back as December 1976. Then, as illustrated in this full page ad, the new disco and hustle tapes apparently became available. Nice. I really had no choice but to blog about this. :o)
As I looked through later issues of CK for more research material, I noticed that Sound Sales Inc. seemed to suddenly stop advertising the Powerhouse in early 1978, only to pop up again around May 1978 with a 1/3 page ad that exclaimed 'Mellotron - now made in the USA! A division of Sound Sales Inc'.
Turns out that Sound Sales Inc. was a company that serviced Mellotrons in the US, and they essentially ended up with the Mellotron inventory and the rights to the Mellotron name after the complicated collapse of the original makers of the Mellotron and the resulting 'liquidation blunder'.
You can check out the full history of the Mellotron at Mellotron.com.
Although the ad does a fair bit to explain how the Powerhouse functions, there is unfortunately not much information available online.
The Audio Playground Synthesizer Museum is looking for one for their collection, and most of the other references are in relation to IK Multimedia's SampleTron virtual instrument which includes samples of the unit in it's collection. The site also has a grainy color photo of the Powerhouse, along with pictures of all the instruments from the *tron family. There is also some audio samples from the software - maybe some of the drum sounds are from the Powerhouse. And no, I didn't get paid to include those links. :o)
If anyone knows more about the Powerhouse, don't be a stranger - please comment!