From the first time I stumbled across a heavily compressed, low res scan of this ad I just knew I had to have the real thing! And surprisingly, it didn't take long for one to pop up. It was a while ago - BSPC (Before Synth Price Craziness) - so I think I paid about $200 for mine. But it started me down the path to track other similarly unique machines down. Like the CK-200, CK-500 and others.
I always wondered where this ad came from, and I had always thought I would eventually come across it in my synth/gear magazine collection. But it had now been over 30 years since I'd been reading and collection music magazines, and almost 10 YEARS of blogging about synth ads, and still I just never recalled coming across it. What the heck?!?!
The seemingly exponentially increased occurrence of this ad on Facebook and Twitter finally peaked my curiosity enough to do a bit of active investigation. In other words I took to Google to quickly track down the origin of this advertisement. Or at least, one origin.
Playboy. 1984. Didn't expect that.
I still needed more details - month and page, so I tried to Google for an online PDF, but all the downloads really looked sketchy. Like... REALLY SKETCHY. So I eventually got up the nerve to order a one month online subscription to the Playboy archives.
Page by page, I started looking through issues from 1984.
Good lord. There really is a lot of articles. And ads!
But I finally found it on page 159 of the May 1984 issue.
I have a "thing" about not using scans I find on the Web - so next was to track down a hard copy. Didn't take long, but was surprised how much I had to struggle through all that teen-age angst and guilt from my past that came flooding back in order to convince myself it was okay.
And sure enough, among the ads for cars, VHS cassette tapes, car radios, electric typewriters, film cameras, cigarettes, booze... and more booze... and more booze...
There it was!
It's a gorgeous advertisement with a large close-up photo of the KX-101 with the obligatory hands on the keys, with an inset photo of the machine in full - with the speakers attached. Ad copy does a great job of communicating to what I'd guess is a monthly non-gear-head audience. And I learned a thing or two too! Including that fact that you can store your programmed chords, melodies and accompaniments onto cassette tape to be dumped back to the machine later. Data! Not audio (although it does audio too).
"Where miracles never cease". Damn right!
You can find lots of information online on the KX-101, including the well-maintained MATRIXSYNTH site with lots of photos and video from various Web pages and eBay auctions.
And if you want to view a comprehensive video including getting a peak at the inside of the unit, check out this YouTube video:
I'm always fascinated by old advertisements - of all types - and made me curious about what I would find. So I expanded my online browsing of the archives to other issues from the 70s and 80s. A few cool technology ads, but only a few keyboard/synth ones. Another Casio keyboard ad did pop up eventually.
I'm probably the first person to say I wasn't reading Playboy for the articles... but for the ads.
But there were some interesting articles as well. For example, it looks like the magazine had a yearly poll for readers to vote for their favourite musicians (including keyboard players).
Even more interestingly, in the April 1984 issue, Playboy gave their Technology award "to past MIT technodarling Raymond Kurzweil, for his Kurzweil 250 keyboard synthesizer, revolutionizing synth rock by not only creating a vast catalog of weird effects but actually sounding like real musical instruments when it attempts to mimic them." Nice.
And, of course, I had to track down the Wendy Carlos interview - "a candid conversation with the "switched-on bach" composer who, for the first time, reveals her sex-change operation and secret life as a women." Great article about an amazing human being.
End note: If anyone knows of any other magazines that included this ad, please let me know!