Monday, September 24, 2012

Adaptive Systems, Inc. Synthia synthesizer "Art and technology in perfect harmony" ad, Keyboard 1982

Adaptive Systems, Inc. Synthia synthesizer "Art and technology in perfect harmony" full-page colour advertisement from page 73 in the June 1982 issue of Keyboard Magazine.


We are only halfway through September and my daily workload has already ramped up to 10 on the crazy-scale. Not that I'm surprised. I had mentioned in a recent blog post that my company was going through a major "right-sizing" and but the work load hasn't followed the same decline as the staff. There is still a whole lot of frickin' work to do. Fun. Exhilarating. But it's still work.

But that's what advertisements like this one from Adaptive Systems Inc are for. I keep 'em in my back pocket when my day job gets too busy because there isn't much known about them so they make quick and easy blog posts.

And that's definitely true for the Synthia. There is not a lot out there other than:

1. what you can read in this advertisement
2. what you can find in Mark Vail's "Vintage Synthesizers" book.

Or at least that's what I initially thought after I took this ad out of my back pocket and set off on my first round of research.

That first Google search found that sites such as's Synthia page just used images from this ad as well as the photos and text from Mark Vail's book. Go read the book's write-up on that Synth Museum page because I'm lazy today and don't feel like paraphrasing  :) That book is also all that is pretty much referenced on the Synthesizer Database Web site at as well.

And like on that last Web site, the poor Synthia usually gets grouped in with the other extinct dinosaurs of this early 80s synth era, getting dumped into the "exotic" or "quirky" category. Even in "Vintage Synthesizers" its in the chapter titled "It came from the music industry" under "Part 1: Dredging the tar pits of technology".

Ouch. This synth could probably use a hug.

Indeed even Gforce software lumped it into its Prism page while referencing... you guessed it... the book "Vintage Synthesizers".

But then... everything changed after a few key-word changes in Google and I finally came across Synthony Music's Synth & MIDI Museum's Synthia page (say that 10 times really fast)!


That page is a goldmine of Synthia reference info including a detailed summary of how the synthesizer actually worked as well as an email from one of the inventors about the history of the company! And that history is definitely worth the time to paraphrase:

Adaptive Systems was formed when Mark E. Faulhaber, an engineer at a large chemical company with an interest in electronic music, obtained an additive synthesis patent in 1976, built a monophonic prototype, and demonstrated it at local IEEE meetings. Three other engineers at the same company were stoked enough by what they saw that in 1980 they formed the company and within two years had built two prototypes to take to the 1982 NAMM show. Over the next year or so they traveled to a few other music trade shows and conferences but closed down the company when they ran out of cash in 1983. The two unsold machines aren't working any more and are sitting in Mark's basement. Mark suggests that the unique instrument failed in part to a conservative music industry.

That Web page write-up also included details on the Synthia's own fabulous build quality and stylin's, including that sleek, clean-lined black and brushed aluminum cabinet with an optional choice of rare woods.


And, its obvious that the designer of the ad figured out that the beauty of the synth needed to be the focal point of the ad - by including that big-ass photo that shows off all that warm wood and shiny metal. That photo also shows off the unique state of the art touch-sensitive display that sits so nicely above the keyboard.

The only thing in this ad that may be more gorgeous than the synth itself is that Synthia logo.  Classy calligraphy with that stylized treble-clef "S". Yum.

Man, I've got to create a top-ten best synth logo list some day. 

But not today. Too busy.



gridsleep said...

Synthia information is available in for the Synthony Museum site which is no longer active. To read the Synthia brochure enter the Synthony page hot link address in search bar.

gridsleep said...

Also donate to so they can continue with this vital service of archiving all the world's web sites.

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