Monday, January 9, 2012

Moog 1984 Product Catalog

Moog 4-page product catalog from 1984.

Wow. Its hard to believe this is year four of the blog. I seem to recall that I had three main goals when I started the whole thing back in 2009.
  1. Find an alternative way to positively contribute to the online synth community (vintage and current) since at the time I seemed to be incapable of starting and thus finishing a track in my studio
  2. Learn social media techniques using tools such as Blogger, Twitter, Google Ads, Google Analytics and Facebook to help increase my skill-set for my day job
  3. Become a more efficient writer
All three goals seem to be on the right track. I've met a lot of new friends both through the blog and through online communities such as the forums on Vintage Synth Explorer. I've definitely become more adept at social media - although I still don't participate too much - just not in my nature. Will try a bit harder in 2012. And my word-count/hour has definitely increased. Not that it's saved me time since I seem to just write more in each blog post.

A good analogy would be vacuums. When vacuums were first invented, I'm sure they sold them to households on the premise that they would save on the amount of time everyone spent on cleaning rugs. Instead, everyone just got more rugs. Go figure.  :)

Now, after a short holiday break (was it as good for you as it was for me?), I'm ready to get back at it. I've got a new laptop with fresh installs of  Sonar X1 Expanded, Reason 6, and ReNoise 2.7.2, a new hair-do, and a rejuvenated spirit after a great - and comfortably warm - Christmas break.

And rather than continue on with the Korg Wavestation kick I've been on lately, I thought I would start the year off with this Moog catalog. Why? Well, for one - companies revving up for NAMM 2012 are starting their teaser campaigns, including Moog, who just announced their new Minitaur bass synth. Hello!

Moog Music's online marketing campaign has created some serious buzz and I've beent racking its word-of-mouth mostly through the forums and, of course, MATRIXSYNTH, who has been updating his Minitaur post quite frequently.

In particular, I find Moog's dub-step-inspired promo video brilliant, especially their half-serious warning of speaker damage near the beginning. It is good lesson in turning what could potentially be a product's negative factor, and flipping it to a positive.  It reminds me of those er*ctile dysfunction ads that tell you to go to your doctor if it lasts for longer than four hours. Wait... what? Is that a warning or a feature?  :D

 Okay, maybe not a clear comparison, but you get the idea.

So, what the heck does all this have to do with this Moog catalog. Well, besides the great product name, great sound, and the great pre-NAMM online buzz Moog has generated, the thing I like most about the Minitaur is the price: $679.00!

That's within almost everyone's price point. And, coincidentally, over the holidays while reorganizing my growing brochure and catalog collection, I became a little fixated on Moog's evolving prices. I've even put my Excel skills to good use and will hopefully have my own personal Moog historical price charting tool created in the near future.

Retail price is the first thing I look for whenever I hear about a new product. And that is the first thing I look for on any vintage brochure, catalog or ad that I come across. It is a standard variable that is easily compared both between competing products and historically within a product's own lifetime.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Moog had a few different documents that contained prices - full sized documents like this 1982 Product Catalog, and smaller retail price list brochures or pamphlets. And the obvious thing I like most about these docs is that they document the historical prices of each instrument.

BUT this one is different. Moog made a conscious decision to not include prices in this 1984 catalog.


Now, the act of not printing retail prices can sometimes be a sign of a company in financial trouble, especially if they have historically printed prices in their documents. Of course, there are other reasons to stop printing retail prices, such as increased competition - and Moog had definitely been under increasing pressure from competition throughout the 70s and 80s. But, in the end, we all know what happened to Moog soon after in 1986...

But, there is a silver lining to this catalog. MIDI! The product write-up for the Memorymoog Plus contains a whole section on it's MIDI/sequencing abilities. Excellent!

Now, I know we can't personally thank Bob Moog bringing MIDI to Moog instruments - he had been long gone from Moog by this time - but he did play a significant role in MIDI's development and acceptance. Back in a 2010 Prophet-600 blog post, I mentioned he had been writing about the development of MIDI in Keyboard Magazine as far back as October 1982.

And that participation and dialog continued on even after MIDI was launched. For example, I recently came across Bob Moog's name in association with post-MIDI-launch International MIDI association meetings in Dominic Milano's '84 NAMM report article that appeared in the April 1984 issue of Keyboard::
"There were also two nights for meetings with IMA, the International MIDI association. The attendees included Bob Moog, representatives and/or engineers from just bout every manufacturer involved with MIDI, yours truly, and various interested users. the results? We elected a committee to elect a committee to decide on what happens next. It seems somehow appropriate that 1984 should be the year that a standard interface is accepted and implemented by virtually the entire synthesizer industry, whether or not that standard can perform its functions as well as everyone would hope. However, if there was anything to be learned from the two nights of IMA discussions and three days of NAMM show, it was that while 1984 may be the year of the MIDI, there is enough dissent among manufacturers that 1985 might still be the end of it. Let's hope it doesn't happen."
Wow. Not only is Bob singled-out, but this paragraph is also a great historical window into the early, rocky development of MIDI. It says so much about the industry at the time. Fantastic stuff.

In any case, NAMM was, and still is a gathering place for industry to meet, discuss and introduce new products. Over the coming weeks, I can't wait to see what other products we might get a sneak-peak at!

See what I did there. Full circle - I brought it all back to NAMM...    :D

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