Steiner-Parker Synthasystem modular synthesizer advertisement from page 7 of Synapse Magazine September/October 1976.
I recently found myself glancing through my Synapse collection more and more - and that's where I first started noticing Steiner-Parker advertisements. So, it is fitting that this S-P ad be first Synapse ad blogged about on Retrosynthads.
The first thing you notice about this full page advertisement is how *big* it is when compared to some of the Steiner-Parker 1/3-page square ads that appeared in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine around the same time period (Blogged: Synthacon II and EVI). Those CK ads had no choice but to look small in that confined space. Small photos.... small fonts... It can be hard to get a reader's attention with a small ad in the back half of any magazine.
But with Synapse, S-P obviously decided that bigger was better. And darn cute too with that "Cooper Black"-type font. But where's the logo with those nice little waveforms? I'm guessing that this ad was probably created by the in-house design staff rather than being supplied by S-P.
There can be no question that it made sense for S-P to spend their advertising dollars with big ads in this magazine. While Keyboard Magazine tried to appeal to a wide range of classic and contemporary artists and enthusiasts during this time period, the core audience of Synapse was obviously hard core synthesizer fans. Seriously, what other magazine in 1976 could you find an interview with Kraftwerk AND Tom Oberheim (not together, silly), schematics to hot-rod your Gnome with a seven stage frequency divider, and an article entitled "Playing Music With Calculators: It All Adds Up To Music" (lets just say it involves calculators, an AM radio, and a touch of dexterity - see link to the article below) ?
I would guess that smaller companies like S-P would have been happy to spend some highly-targeted advertising dollars in a magazine with this type of reader base.
And it also makes sense that a highly-targeted Steiner-Parker ad in Synapse magazine would include a really large photo of a Synthasystem modular synthesizer.
The Synthasystem was a compact, configurable modular synthesizer (thumbs up to carry-case handles) built during the last half of the '70s. According to Vintage Synth Explorer, it couldn't really compete with likes of Moog, ARP and EML, but was great for sound processing and design.
The classic Synthasystem photo in this advertisement can be found on many reference and forum sites, and synthmuseum.com's page has even included an information break-down of all the modules in the photo! The site also tells us that the top row (sequencer, frequency divider, and VC phaser) was optional and photos of the system with the blank top panel can be seen in early reference sheets also linked to from the page.
Synapse Magazine its a treasure chest of historical information - amazing articles and advertisements. I have no doubt that you'll be reading about more Synapse advertisements in the near future.
End note: Cynthia Webster, founder of Synapse and editor of the first few issues before Doug Lynner took over, currently builds Modcan and Serge compatible modules. She has posted scans of many of the magazine's pages on her Web site under the Goodies section. Definitely check the scans out for some great articles!
Especially the article by Craig Anderton on playing music with calculators. Gonna try this next weekend with some old calculators. :o)