Monday, May 9, 2011

E-mu 4060 Microprocessor Keyboard and 4070 Floppy Disc System - Part 2, Contemporary Keyboard 1980

This is part 2 in my fixation with the E-mu 4060 Microprocessor Keyboard and 4070 Floppy Disc System. I recommend reading part 1 to catch up on a little of the early history on the 4060.

Read it?

How 'bout now?


Good. Let's get going then, because once the 4060 Keyboard was developed in 1977, that was hardly the end of the story.

The 4060 continued to be updated by E-mu - and we are talking software updates to provide new functionality to the hardware! And that's just plain cool. Digital technology was probably so new to many musicians that the whole concept of software updates to expand the functionality of a piece of gear, at a fraction of the cost, must have made some of them just drop their pants.

These keyboard software updates showed up in the September 1979 Spec Sheet section of Contemporary Keyboard. The write-up is fantastic, and provides today's readers with an understand of just how primitive early digital sequencers actually were - and how much potential there was.

Spec Sheets, as you may know, are often one... big... long... paragraph. I've separated out this write up into the six software packages.
"E-mu software. Six new software programs for the 4060 microprocessor keyboard are available from E-mu.

The UP1.1 is a revised version of the basic software for the 4060 and is available free to owners of the earlier version.

Memtest is a field service aid for testing the 4060 and any attached 4065 sequencer memory boards.

Intervals is a program that allows the user to redefine the tuning of the 4060 keyboard. Two modes are available with this software modification. In the Define Interval mode, one can specify the interval between keys. In the Define Key mode, one can specify the value of each individual key, thus allowing the user to define any arbitrarily tuned scale. In both cases, control voltage can be defined to an accuracy of .015 semitone over a ten-octave range.

Program Mode is intended for the individual who wishes to write his or her own programs for the 4060. In allows you to enter programs and data using the 4060's keyboard and to display addresses and data on the 16 gate lamps. A list of useful entry points and their functions is supplied with the programs.

Sequencer Edit is a version of the standard 4060 software modified for special real-time and sequencer editing of functions. Punch Out mode allows the repair of one or more notes in the middle of a complex sequence, while a modified Store Sequence function allows continuous playing as you're building up multiple layered sequences.

Pat's UP1.3 is another enhanced version of the standard software. It was original developed for CK columnist Patrick Gleesen. This program allows both up and down sequence transposition, the storage of up to 81 individual sequences, the ability to inhibit the recall of selected sequencer channels, and the uninterrupted building of sequences in real-time.

All programs are supplied on cassette tape and are loaded using standard "from tape" procedure. programs range in price from $25 to $200. The 4060 polyphonic keyboard is $3000.00. E-mu systems, 417 Broadway, Santa Cruz, CA 95060."
But E-mu didn't stop there. They knew they had to keep up with the fast-paced evolution of hardware technology too. In particular, a certain storage technology that was increasingly replacing cassette tape storage.


In 1979, E-mu released the 4070 Floppy Disk System, allowing users to hold six sequencer memories along with faster load times.

And so, with all the different software and hardware now available for the 4060, E-mu finally decided in 1980 that this advertisement was required to bundle it all up in to a nice little ball of concentrated digital goodness for readers.

But, the September 1980 issue of Keyboard didn't just include this ad from E-mu. The Spec Sheet section in the same issue also announced the "Floppy Disk Memory Unit" which provided even more juicy information about the 4070.
"Designed for use with the Emu 4060 microprocessor-based 16-channel polyphonic keyboard/sequencer with at least one 4065 sequencer memory, the 4070 floppy disk memory unit is designed for quick storage and recall of polyphonic sequences and special function software. The unit consists of an 8" floppy disk drive with cabinet, power supply, and interface circuitry for the 4060 keyboard. A CRT terminal interface is also included for use with forthcoming software. Each floppy disk will store six full sequencer memories for a total capacity of 36,000 notes. Disk drive, interface, cables, a replacement ROM with UP1.3 DISK, and ten floppy disks are included. Price is $3000.00. Emu Systems, Inc. 437 Broadway, Santa Cruz, CA 95060."
The ad also mentions the inclusion of a CRT terminal interface mentioned in this Spec Sheet write up, apparently for use with "forthcoming software". Unfortunately, as mentioned in the 30 Years of E-mu Sound on Sound article, further development wasn't meant to be:
"Emu continued to develop the product with new versions of the sequencer software, and an external eight-inch floppy diskette for sequence storage. They released this as the 4070 in 1979, and a VDU and ASCII keyboard were planned for 1980, but they never happened."
I would have loved to have seen what they had come up with in the E-mu labs!

Also interesting is that this ad mentions the "new" Audity polyphonic synthesizer. You can read more out the Audity at and the 30-year anniversary article on E-mu, but I point it out in reference to this ad because whenever I see pictures of the Audity, it looks like a 4060 Keyboard is always hanging out as well. And, in fact, the 4060 gets special mention in the Audity's Spec Sheet review in the December 1980 issue of Contemporary Keyboard.
"The Audity can be controlled by virtually any 1-volt/octave controller, but it was designed especially for use with the E-mu's 4060 polyphonic keyboard. With the 4060's built-in 16-channel memory sequencer, the composer or arranger can create multitrack compositions nd then experiment with orchestrations in real time - creating and modifying timbres while his or her piece is actually playing."
Great cross-promoting! :D

But, the writing was on the wall for E-mu, and that anniversary article by Sound on Sound put it best when Rob Keeble writes:
"During the '70s, Emu successfully grew from being based in an apartment in Santa Clara, to being based in a house in Santa Cruz. They had pioneered many new ideas, but their own products were either out of fashion or too expensive. In mid-1980 they faced extinction, and a new business plan was urgently needed.

In response, the folksy style of the '70s was replaced by a professional approach to product and business development. In 1979 Emu Systems incorporated to become a public business, which attracted some external investment and business management. In 1980, they hired Marco Alpert as the Marketing Manager, and he came up with many new product ideas as well as some of the company's best adverts."
And we all know what came out of that... :D

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