Thursday, June 9, 2011

E-mu Systems Inc. "Drumulator Systems Options" ad, Keyboard 1983

E-mu Systems Inc. "Drumulator Systems Options" 1-page advertisement from page 57 in Keyboard Magazine November 1983.

This ad brings me back to a simpler time. A time back in the 80s when I used an Apple IIe and Passport's Master Tracks. Even on stage! Just look at that joystick too. That, unfortunately, didn't work with Master Tracks. Quick aside: Check out Passport's Wikipedia page to see it's connection with Electronic Music Labs and Star Instruments!

The ad itself has a clear purpose - to let readers know that their drum machine would not become obsolete and that E-mu was giving readers three more great reasons to buy a Drumulator - a pad programmer, software that runs on an Apple II and Apple IIe, and the ability to add custom new sounds. Nice.

As was the case with all E-mu ads, the layout and design is top-notch from top to bottom. And, as was done with the introductory ad, the drum sticks are used to make another eye-catching pattern - this time found the background at the top of the ad.

The ad-copy is also well done. Although, as an Apple fan boy of the 80s, I'm a little sad that E-mu doesn't actually mention what computer the software runs on in the text. There is a clearly labeled Apple II computer in the photo, so I guess its not that big a deal. Especially when you have such limited room.

This advertisement began it's first short three month run only one month after the introductory Drumulator ad last ran, appearing from November 1983 to January 1984. Then, after four months of silence, it suddenly appeared again for the June and July issues.

Why the sudden re-appearance after a four month dry period? E-mu had partnered with Digidrums to provide alternate sound chips. In fact, E-mu wanted to make sure that Digidrums got its fair share of publicity, so they cut down some of the original ad-copy to make room for Digidrums mention in the June/July version of the ad.

The ad-copy that was removed was in the "Pad Programmer" section:
"Each of the Programmer's pads can be assigned to any Drumulator sound and each is touch sensitive, allowing you to choose the normal or accented version of a sound by how hard you hit its pad. Programming complex dynamics was never easier."
Andthe new Digidrum ad-copy was added under the "New Sounds" section:
"And, thanks to Digidrums alternate sound chip sets, your Drumulator can now take on completely new identities, from electronic drums and heavy metal rock drums to a Latin percussion set complete with congas, timbales, agogo bells and tambourine."
Some readers may have already been aware of the Digidrums partnership before reading about them in the June/July ad. That's because the Digidrum news was part of a rather long Drumulator Systems Options announcement that appeared in the April 1984 Spec Sheet section of Keyboard. It's so long that I've separated it out a bit:
"E-mu Drumulator Updates. The Drumulator Pad Programmer allows the Drumulator digital drum machine to be played and programmed with drumsticks on four dynamically responsive pads, simplifying the process of creating rhythms with natural-sounding accents and allowing the user to improvise rhythms using sticks. Sensitivity and accent level controls allow the response of each pad to be individually tailored to the user's playing style. In addition, the unit includes four trigger outputs for controlling synthesizers, sequencers, or other drum machines. The Drumulator Graphic Rhythm Composer (GRC) is a software system for the Apple II or IIe computer that allows non-real-time programming of measures and songs with total dynamic control on a note-by-note basis.

The GRC is composed of four linked program modules. With the measure writer module, a cursor is moved around a graphic representation of a measure of music, placing notes o the desired beats and setting their volume levels. Segment writer and song writer modules are used to link measures into complete songs. The song player module is then used to actually play the song on the Drumulator.

A selection of alternate sounds is also available for the Drumulator. A user-installable chip containing a crash cymbal is available as a replacement for the standard ride cymbal. Additionally, Digidrums (100 S. Ellsworth, 9th Floor, San Mateo, CA 94401) is offering E-mu-authorized alternate sound sets for the Drumulator. Current offerings include two different electronic drum sets, a Latin percussion set, an African percussion set, and a heavy metal rock drum set. Each set includes from 8 to 12 new sounds and completely replaces the standard Drumulator sounds. A demo tape is available from E-mu dealers or directly from Digidrums. E-mu, 2815 Chanticleer, Santa Cruz, CA 95062."
And Digidrums wasn't the only one providing more value to Drumulator users. Another Spec Sheet promo appeared in the February 1985 issue of Keyboard from SD Simpson:
"Drumulator Memory Expansion Mod. The x5 by SD Simpson is a memory expansion modification for the E-mu Drumulator. It is designed for in-board installation and has been tested and approved by E-mu as a system upgrade. The circuit board gives you five separate storage banks, each equal in capacity to the Drumulator's stock capacity. The banks are accessed with a single rotary switch. All operating procedures remain the same as before. The mod can be installed by the user. Price is $275.00. SD Simpson, 11907 Brookmont, Maryland Heights, MO 63043."
I can't believe I'm saying this, but... gotta love digital technology. Easy to upgrade! :D

1 comment:

ahclem said...

Wow. Thanks to you, my entire early marketing life is flashing (very slowly) before my eyes.

A couple of interesting tidbits. Digidrums was Peter Gotcher and Evan Brooks. They went on to do some other interesting audio stuff that your readers may be aware of. And we shouldn't forget the JL Cooper 3 Kit that let you install three sets of Drumulator sound chips and choose between them with a three-way toggle switch.

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