Thursday, November 22, 2012

Casio CZ-101 "We engineered this synthesizer so..." ad, Keyboard 1985

Casio CZ-101 synthesizer "We engineered this synthesizer so you don't have to be an engineer to play it" full page colour advertisement from page 7 in the February 1985 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Oh, you cute little CZ-101!

Although, from the photo, you can't really tell just how little the thing really is.

I actually posted this ad waaaaaay back in January 2009, the first month the blog technically went live. But back then it was more scan posting than actual blogging. So, figured I could post again since I seem to have started on a bit of a Casio stream.

When I look at this ad (or a CZ-101 for that matter),  two words come to mind:

Vince Clarke (@thecabinstudio on Twitter).

I've posted this classic photo of Vince Clarke and Eric Radcliffe posing with a rack of 101's before. But its always worth posting again. Under this Sound on Sound article's photo is a small quote by Vince, that includes this little gem:
"If you are looking for something to sequence, say, a bank of eight Casio CZ101s, then UMI-2B is the answer."
Literally, a bank synthesizers. And a bank of synthesizers that won't break the bank at the advertised retail price of $499.00.

I also like to post this image because it gives readers a good idea to just how teeny-weeny the CZ-101 actually is. Mine has literally gotten lost in my studio. Couldn't find it for months.

This ad was the start of the CZ revolution: February 1985. Tatoo the date under your tatoo of the CZ-101. Go ahead. The blog post will be here when you get back. And don't worry, you aren't the only one with puppy love for this machine. It wasn't long after it's launch that musicians, geeks and the media also fell for it. It seemed that everyone dug this thing.

Don't believe me? Just start digging through the 1985 and 1986 issues of Keyboard to get a load of its popularity. And not just ads... the "Patches of the Month" section often included CZ patches (steel drum patches  seemed especially tasty, probably due to the CZ's lovely synthesized frequencies).

There were also articles dedicated to this new type of synthesis.

In March 1986, Jerry Kovarsky & Jim Aikin wrote a four page in-depth Keyboard Clinic called "How to program the CZ-101". The article burned through many aspects of programming the machine, including envelopes, waveforms, key follow, and the magic of detuning and ring modulation (my words, not theirs  :)

And to make sure you didn't think they took all the fun out of programming the CZ-101, the article ends with this little ditty.
"Of course, many is the time I set out to create a cello and ended up with a moose in heat, but it was a good moose so I took full credit for it. That's what makes programming fun!"
Oh.... synthesis humour. Zing!

But one of the most surprising articles I came across in my research was an April 1986 article called "Unexplored resources of the Casio CZ-101". Written by...


Even cooler is that Bob points out this is his first Keyboard column in which he discusses a specific synthesizer. Throughout the introduction he ensure his readers that he is not "playing favorites" and insists that the article is only the result of a recent flood of a "number of innovative instruments offering unexplored musical resources".  And he also adds:

"...if you're a more casual user of electronic music equipment, you shouldn't think of my devoting a column or two to a particular instrument as an endorsement or recommendation of that instrument. Many devices are interesting not because they have unique capabilities, but because their features are similar to and stimulate new perspectives regarding other, more widely known, instruments."

Bob Moog has a legendary reputation as a stand-up guy with a love of technology. I could see how he would get a kick out of new synthesis techniques when they present themselves. Anyone who thinks differently about Mr. Moog can stand in the line to my right for a punch in the neck. Thank you very much.

Anyways, Bob does a great job of comparing the CZ's digital programming parameters to those of a subtractive analog synthesizer. A good little one-pager. A definite read.

But back to the ad for a second.

In my last blog post for the CZ-5000, I pointed out Casio's marketing strategy of connecting the musician to the technology. Most other synthesizer ads of the time period just included big photos of the featured gear. Few actually included a human. Not even a hand touching the keyboard.

But Casio made sure to include that human element in their ads. In the case of the CZ-5000, it was the Miami-Vice dude. And in the case of this CZ-101 ad, its a Mike Reno (Loverboy) / Bruce Springsteen look-alike.

And to make sure to hit readers over the head with the whole technology-musician connection, they also included a visual of a dude in a lab coat next to Mr. Loverboy. They kind of look like a local TV news team doing a promo for the 10-o'clock update, turning in slo-mo towards the camera.

Nothing like including a stereotypical engineer figure in your ad to make your musician look more... er... musician-y. 

But alas... they forgot one classic piece of geek paraphernalia.

No pocket protector. Boo!   #fail.

1 comment:

Cinema Verite said...

Check out that little 8lb amp/speaker for $129.50. Where can I get one of those?

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