Thursday, January 31, 2013

Strider Systems Inc. Microsequencer "The Live One" ad, Contemporary Keyboard 1978

 Strider Systems Inc. Microsequencer "The Live One" 1/6-page black and white advertisement from the bottom right-hand side of page 57 in the June 1978 issue of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine.

The DCS-1 and DCS II were definitely the focus of Strider Systems Inc. in magazines like Contemporary Keyboard and Synapse - both in terms of advertisements and product promos. But those were not the only products coming out of this five-man shop in Oklahoma. A few other products managed to make it out of the factory at one time or another.

For example, what sounds like a really cool little digitally controlled device could be spotted in the March/April 1978 issue of Synapse called the Digital Envelope Generator (DEG).
"Strider Systems Inc. has release a Digital Envelope Generator (DEG) designed for the original equipment manufacturer market. The DEG is a micro-computer controlled, 37 input, single output audio mixer and keyboard scanner combined on an 8"x10" printed circuit board. The microcomputer scans a multiplexed 37-note keyboard for keypress and release information to generate independent loudness transients for each of the 37 audio input channels. The factory presets 64 ADSR and LFO envelopes, and custom programming is available on a 10-day turn-around. In quantities of 100 units and up, the DEG sells for $350.00, with small quantities for $750.00 per board. For more information, write: Strider Systems P.O. Box 2934, Norman, OK 73070."
I contacted co-owner and President of Strider Systems Inc. Jim Christensen about the DEG to see what he could remember about it.
"If I remember correctly, the DEG was a sort of probe to see if there was any market for this kind of product targeted at Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), as we were beginning to realize that we were too small and underfunded do the whole thing ourselves. We had a prototype running but did not do any layout for the full board, as we had no response. Thinking back, it's clear that other manufacturers would want to keep the digital portion of the system as a core technology rather than farming it out."
Although I couldn't find any DEG advertisements in CK or Synapse (makes sense since a product like this would more likely get advertised in manufacturer/trade mags), another product that came out of Strider in 1978 did deserve a few advertising dollars - the Microsequencer.

This piece of kit popped up on my radar early on in my Strider Research and I suspected the technology around it was pulled directly from the 256-note sequencer that was available on the DCS II synthesizer.

But when I asked Jim about the Microsequencer and my theory on its development, he replied that it was a totally different design that "used a single D/A circuit both for CV output and input (using a comparator and programmed A/D algorithm)".  I'll take his word on those specs. Engineers...   :)

This $450.00 sequencer was only 63-note. And when I say "only", that's "only" when compared to the 256-note sequencer integrated into the DCS II. For 1978, a stand-alone under-$500 63-note sequencer wasn't too shabby. For comparison, the Korg SQ-10 analog sequencer was advertised with 24 notes in 1980, the Wasatch Music Systems Sequencer 1020a handled 20 notes in 1976, and the ARP Sequencer ad with the really really really creepy hand looks to have provided 16 notes for $795.00 in 1976.

But with such a small ad budget and with funding rapidly running out, Jim told me that they probably only sold a dozen or so.

Too bad - it looks like a cool little machine.  Wait... what? "Looks like"? There's no photo...

No, not in the ad. But there is a photo in the brochure scans that Jim sent me.

I'm saving that one for next time.  :)

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