Monday, February 27, 2012

Oberheim "Fed up with playing only one note at a time" advertisement, Contemporary Keyboard 1976

Oberheim "Fed up with playing only one note at a time" FourVoice synthesizer 1-page advertisement from inside front cover of  Contemporary Keyboard magazine May/June 1976.

I originally posted this ad with any blog content back in 2009. But, I've recently become more interested in Oberheim after a reader requested I post a few Oberheim ads and I realized that over the last couple of years, I've been jumping back and forth in the Oberheim ad-timeline, missing out a good chunck of the early 80s.

But, I had to re-familiarize myself with Oberheim and thought I had better start back at the beginning... or at least as close to it as possible. And figured it would make a few good blog posts.

This was Oberheim's first advertisement to appear in Contemporary Keyboard. It actually first appeared in the March/April 1976 issue on page 13, but in the next May/June issue the ad got the respect it deserved and jumped to the front inside cover. :)

In that May/June 1976 issue, readers also got a more technical taste of SEM modules (back when they were just called EMs) in the Spec Sheet section. Oddly, it was only providing the specifications for the Two-Voice, but it does give some great historical information on prices, configurations, and technical details. Yummy with a capital "Y":
"Oberheim Synthesizer. The Oberheim Two-Voice Polyphonic Synthesizer includes two synthesizer Expander Modules; an 8-position, 2-voice Mini-Sequencer with sample/hold; and a 2-voice, 37-note keyboard. Each Expander Module is a complete basis synthesizer and features two VCOs, a VCF, two envelope generators, an LFO, and a VCA. The 2-voice keyboard can operate in either polyphonic or monophonic mode. When operated polyphonically, two sets of control voltages from the keyboard drive the Expander Modules, while monophonic operation allows the performer to manipulate all four oscillators, two filters, and four envelope generators with a single control voltage. The Mini-Sequencer is an 8-position analog unit that also include a sample/hold circuit and a VCC (voltage-controlled clock). A 2-input mixer with master gain control for attenuating the output of the Expander Modules and headphone amp is also supplied. The Two-Voice Polyphonic Synthesizer can be purchased with a minimum configuration of one Expander Module for $1,195.00 list. An additional Expander Module can be attached for $500.00, as can the Mini-Sequencer for $300.00. The fully loaded package lists for $1,995.00. Oberheim Electronics, 1549 Ninth St., Santa Monica, CA 90401."
The ad only ran twice, before being replaced with Oberheim's August-only run of their "Some things are better than others" advertisement that featured their whole family of products arranged in a rather spooky floating pattern.

The following month, Oberheim wasted no time in promoting their new Polyphonic Synthesizer Programmer in  their "Ultimate Keyboard Machine" advertisement, giving their synthesizers the ability to store patches. That ad ran in the September/October issue of Contemporary Keyboard, as well as in the September/October issue of Synapse.

Readers of that September/October issue of Synapse were in for a special treat - a three-page interview with Tom Oberheim! CK readers had to wait until May 1977 for their turn.

In the article (which you can read online thanks to, Tom touches on his 13 years of computer engineering, being a choir singer, synthesizer polyphony and even musique concrete. Best quote:
"It's conceivable that you could have a voltage-controlled synthesizer some day for every key. But what if you wanted the ability to make each voice different? Can you imagine having seventy-two voices? Because I think in terms of having 72 expander modules there, or 37 modules, or even 30? There are synthesizers with 30-note keyboards; 30 expander moduels? Whew! I mean you couldn't, it's impossible!". 
I really want 72 SEMs now. :)

The What's Happening section of this issue also included some Oberheim content. The section was still quite small with only a sentence devoted to each tidbit of news, with a few ... thrown in between. So all readers got on Oberheim was "...Oberheim has added a patch programming ability to their polyphonic systems...".

Another quote that popped out at me in that What's Happening section was "...In a recent interview with Playboy, Davie Bowie said that his favorite group was Kraftwerk...".

This surprised me!

No - not that David Bowie/Kraftwerk thing - I totally get that.

It surprised me that people really do read the Playboy articles!  :)

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