Thursday, April 29, 2010

360 Sysytems Slavedriver, Synapse 1977

360 Systems Slavedriver guitar synthesizer advertisement from page 2 of Synapse Magazine May/June 1977.

The Slavedriver was part of the first wave of guitar/synthesizer systems that allowed guitars to control synthesizers. I never really got into them, probably because I didn't have the talent or time required to learn to play a guitar. But I don't want to turn this blog post into a therapy session...

I really like this advertisement for a number of reasons. The first and second of which are the logos.

The '360 Systems' logo itself stands the test of time. It is a shame they still don't use that logo today. But then again, they are pretty much a totally different company today too.

And I have a love-hate relationship with the 'Slavedriver' logo (tipping towards the love side). Maybe I'm a bit sensitive about the stylized 'whip' that runs across the top of the logo - it's a bit too literal for me, but the Battlestar Galactica-like font used for the logo is fantastically futuristic.

I also really like the way the 'Slavedriver' logo blends in with another funky-font-tag-line that is cheeky enough to tell the bulk of the readers of this electronic music magazine (ie. keyboard players) to 'move over!'. Seriously - wouldn't most of the readers of this magazine be synthesizer fanatics? I'm sure many would have a synthesizer lying around, but also a guitar? Is this a good strategy in a Synapse ad?

The ad copy underneath the tag-line also directs a lot its attention towards guitarists. There are a few places where they kinda give equal billing to that smaller segment of readers that may own both synthesizers and guitars, but the copy as a whole should really have squarely targeted keyboard players. Or am I just reading into it because of my disgust at not learning to play guitar? This very well may be turning into a therapy session.

Could the logic of placing this ad in Synapse have been that synthesizers cost more than guitars, so it would be easier to make the case for a keyboard player to buy a relatively inexpensive guitar in order to get out to the front of the stage? But then why direct this ad at guitarists?

It also makes me wonder if 70s guitar magazines also had guitar-synth ads? I'd think so.

Sorry, I'm starting to ramble...

Pushing the audience argument aside, the ad-copy itself may be a bit crowded but the way it curves around the photo of the Slavedriver hardware really adds to the design and style of the ad.

Back in March I blogged about a brochure from another of the guitar-synths trying to make its way in the world. The ARP Avatar. The ARP Avatar brochure directed its attention towards guitar playerst too, and it too made a fatal error. It tried to tell egocentric rock-god guitar players that they could get more performance potential with synthesizer sounds. Probably the last thing a rock-god guitar player wants to hear.

So therein lies the problem. How do you market a guitar synthesizer back in the 70s when the majority of guitarists and synthesists may have been entrenched in two totally separate camps at the time? That's a tough sell. To me it's like bring matter and anti-matter together. Kaboom!

And maybe that is why Tom Mulhern's Web site includes a great article entitled 'The History of Guitar Synthesizers: Four Revolutions, No Clear Winner'. And he should know - he spent more than a decade at Guitar Player magazine.

Maybe I should contact him to ask about guitar-synthesizer ads in Guitar Player... hmm...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oberheim OB-1, Contemporary Keyboard, Synapse, 1977

Oberheim OB-1 synthesizer advertisement from page 11 of Contemporary Keyboard November/December 1977.

This Oberheim advertisement introducing the OB-1 synthesizer ran intermittently in CK for around six months starting in November 1977 until April 1978. Interestingly, the OB-1 didn't appear in the Spec Section of CK until August 1978 - four months after this ad stopped running.

[Update from May 2, 2010: The advertisement also ran in Synapse Magazine: page 4 in November/December 1977 and page 3 in January/February 1978]

I really really really enjoy this advertisement. I like so much about it that I feel kind of like a prick for commenting first on the one thing lacking.

The first thing I noticed about this advertisement was that my eye couldn't quickly and easily identify the synthesizer being advertised. Usually the name of the synthesizer will be found at the top of the ad in big letters, in the tagline, or prominently displayed as part of the photo or imagery. For example, Moog would often included the name of the synthesizer at the top of the ad or at the bottom of the ad. ARP was more likely to add it to the tag line or have it noticable in the photo. I think Sequential Circuits did it best when incorporating the name into the imagery of their awesome Ear-Force advertisements.

I'm not saying this was always the case, but it was a good rule to live by. Looking now at this OB-1 advertisement, you can see that Oberheim doesn't even mention the name of the synthesizer until halfway through the ad-copy. Maybe because it was an introductory ad, Oberheim thought that showing the outline diagram of the synth would draw reader's curiosity in more than the name of a synthesizer no one had heard of yet.

Either way, the rest of this ad is great. I really enjoy the technical desktop imagery and the way the ad pokes a little fun at engineers (I'm pretty sure that the Engineering and Marketing employees at many companies were often at separate ends of the room during the office Christmas party - well, until the booze started to flow). The mostly white-coloured ad almost gets lost on the page, but the shadowing underneath the bottom corners of the diagram helps pull the ad together. If Oberheim had only had slapped a big 'OB-1' somewhere on it.... :o)

I've only played on an OB-1 once in my friend's basement a long time ago and I recall that there were two things that stood out when I was givin' 'er a spin:

1. The bass. It was *really fat*. F-A-T. FAT.

2. The memory select buttons. They were actually these metal dome-shaped touch-sensitive contact-type things. They were very unique and I remember that I had never come across anything like them before. While researching this post I was quite surprised at how long it took me to find someone else mention this unique feature. I finally found this post on MATRIXSYNTH that has a great photo of the touch contacts and also includes a comment describing how to store patches.

The OB-1 has the distinction of being known as the first commercial programmable synthesizer and it's architecture is based around the SEM module. You can find some more reference information on the OB-1 at Vintage Synth Explorer and

Looking at photos on, it seemed to have come in two models (didn't know!) - a gray face panel and a black one. But I can't find much information about the differences between these two models besides the colour.

I'll keep digging.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Steiner-Parker Two-Voice Synthacon and Sequencer 151, Contemporary Keyboard and Synapse 1976

Steiner-Parker Two-Voice Synthacon synthesizer and Sequencer 151 advertisement from page 30 of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine and the back inside cover of Synapse Magazine November/December 1976.

I've included both the Contemporary Keyboard and Synapse version of the 'Free Sequencer' ads to help make the point that when you are giving away a sequencer with every synthesizer, a multi-publication advertising campaign is probably the right move - especially during the holiday season.

With a Synthacon synthesizer listing for $1395 in 1976, giving away $528 (and 32 cents...) in extras is going to make a bit of a dent in your bottom line. It was a bold and I would guess costly move by S-P to try and wedge their way into a world dominated by 'the big three'. I know I might have been convinced to choose a Synthacon over an Odyssey with an offer like this.

In fact, I'm actually quite surprised that more companies didn't take advantage of both publications simultaneously. More on this in future blog posts.

Looking at the S-P ad that appeared in Contemporary Keyboard, the company upgraded from their usual 1/4-page ad to a 1/2-page ad. The increase in cost was probably considerable, but one could argue that it probably helped get their promotion noticed in the back half of CK.

The third-person ad-copy "See your local dealer or contact the manufacturer" was obviously overlooked by S-P. In my last S-P post, I speculated that S-P was probably getting their ads designed by an outside firm. This text seems to support the theory.

Turning attention to the Synapse ad, I think S-P made a really smart move spending the cash to claim the full back inside cover. S-P had already tested Synapse's waters with a full page Synthasystem advertisement in the previous issue and probably got a good response from the magazine's highly targeted audience. It was probably a no-brainer to spend a few extra bucks to take the back inside cover for this promotion effort.

But there is something wrong with the balance of the Synapse ad. I included as much of the page in the scan as possible so you could see just how much extra white space there is. I'm torn between wanting to use that space to put more information about the sequencer in this ad, and being happy that S-P stayed on-message - buy a synthesizer, get a sequencer - even if it means including less text. A larger font would probably have solved this.

In the case of both ads, I'm also a little bummed out that the S-P waveform logo doesn't appear with the Steiner-Parker logo-text. We'll have to see if this becomes a common occurrence in future S-P advertisements.

Looking online, I couldn't find any reference information about the 151 Sequencer at the usual synthesizer reference sites. But, two on-line videos have become very popular with well known synthesizer Web sites such as MATRIXSYNTH. These two videos also dominate Google results if you do a search for 'Steiner-Parker 151 Sequencer'.

Both videos feature the Synthacon and the 151 Sequencer doin' their thang. You really get a good demonstration of the Synthacon and its sound (what's with all that reverb?!?).

One last observation - In an earlier Synthacon post I made the case that the actual name of the two-voice Synthacon is 'Synthacon II' based on findings in a 1975 dealer sheet. You will notice that in these scans, one ad refers to the synth as a 'two-voice Synthacon' while the other as a '2-voice Synthacon'. Using these names to describe the synthesizer more clearly to readers makes sense (some readers at the time may not know what the 'II' means). But the lower case lettering helps me cling to my belief that the actual name was the definitely cooler 'Synthacon II'. :o)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem, Synapse 1976

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem modular synthesizer advertisement from page 7 of Synapse Magazine September/October 1976.

I recently found myself glancing through my Synapse collection more and more - and that's where I first started noticing Steiner-Parker advertisements. So, it is fitting that this S-P ad be first Synapse ad blogged about on Retrosynthads.

The first thing you notice about this full page advertisement is how *big* it is when compared to some of the Steiner-Parker 1/3-page square ads that appeared in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine around the same time period (Blogged: Synthacon II and EVI). Those CK ads had no choice but to look small in that confined space. Small photos.... small fonts... It can be hard to get a reader's attention with a small ad in the back half of any magazine.

But with Synapse, S-P obviously decided that bigger was better. And darn cute too with that "Cooper Black"-type font. But where's the logo with those nice little waveforms? I'm guessing that this ad was probably created by the in-house design staff rather than being supplied by S-P.

There can be no question that it made sense for S-P to spend their advertising dollars with big ads in this magazine. While Keyboard Magazine tried to appeal to a wide range of classic and contemporary artists and enthusiasts during this time period, the core audience of Synapse was obviously hard core synthesizer fans. Seriously, what other magazine in 1976 could you find an interview with Kraftwerk AND Tom Oberheim (not together, silly), schematics to hot-rod your Gnome with a seven stage frequency divider, and an article entitled "Playing Music With Calculators: It All Adds Up To Music" (lets just say it involves calculators, an AM radio, and a touch of dexterity - see link to the article below) ?

I would guess that smaller companies like S-P would have been happy to spend some highly-targeted advertising dollars in a magazine with this type of reader base.

And it also makes sense that a highly-targeted Steiner-Parker ad in Synapse magazine would include a really large photo of a Synthasystem modular synthesizer.

The Synthasystem was a compact, configurable modular synthesizer (thumbs up to carry-case handles) built during the last half of the '70s. According to Vintage Synth Explorer, it couldn't really compete with likes of Moog, ARP and EML, but was great for sound processing and design.

The classic Synthasystem photo in this advertisement can be found on many reference and forum sites, and's page has even included an information break-down of all the modules in the photo! The site also tells us that the top row (sequencer, frequency divider, and VC phaser) was optional and photos of the system with the blank top panel can be seen in early reference sheets also linked to from the page.

Synapse Magazine its a treasure chest of historical information - amazing articles and advertisements. I have no doubt that you'll be reading about more Synapse advertisements in the near future.

End note: Cynthia Webster, founder of Synapse and editor of the first few issues before Doug Lynner took over, currently builds Modcan and Serge compatible modules. She has posted scans of many of the magazine's pages on her Web site under the Goodies section. Definitely check the scans out for some great articles!

Especially the article by Craig Anderton on playing music with calculators. Gonna try this next weekend with some old calculators. :o)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 1 Dec. 1980

Moog Interface newsletter, Vol. 1 Dec. 1980.

Talk about luck! A Moog fan recently emailed a request to upload more of the company's '80s newsletters. AND it's been busy at work and I keep a couple of Moog newsletter scans on hand especially for those busy times. (Plus, for some reason I feel less guilty about blogging a bit less when I upload multi-page scans. :o)

Where do I begin...? Another classic Moog newsletter!

I created a 'Top-10' list when I blogged about the September 1980 Moog newsletter I uploaded back in February, so it seems fitting (and convenient) to keep the format consistent.

Top Ten reasons this newsletter is awesome

10. Ronnie Milsap playing a Moog Liberation on tour? Okay, time for me to rethink my whole music collection.

9. Announcement of the winner of the September 1980 newsletter's Moog satin flight jacket contest. And a new Moog satin flight jacket contest. Satin rocks.

8. 'Interface' font (yeah, it was #6 in my last top 10 - but you have to admit it is excellent. I used the same font for a bunch of gig posters in the mid-90s!

7. A photo of Rory Kaplan's Moog Modular. Larger photo next time please!

6. A price list of the Polymoog upgrade/modification kits available during this time period. Old price list reference information is even better than satin flight jackets.

5. Wire frame outline of the control panel of the Opus-3. I've recently blogged about how great wire frame outlines are. Moog included one with the Liberation article in the last newsletter, and has also included them in a few of their reference sheets that came out around the same time period, including the Minimoog sheet.

4. Cat/synth photo! Nothing is cuter than seeing a furry little feline curling up with some Taurus pedals. Well, except for a dog/synth photo. But that's just me. Still, the Catsynth blog would be proud.

3. Apparently the coolest music education program administrator ever is Bob Kruger at Northport High on Long Island. Who, in 1980, "soon hopes to be able to offer a course in the school which introduces the concepts of computer music". IN 1980!!!

2. A Devo photo makes another appearance in this newsletter (this time in the input/output section) after they appeared on The Midnight Special. Of course it was Bob 2 playing the Liberation. Geez.

1. 'Everything eventually fails' - David Luce (then Vice President of Engineering for about seven or eight years) makes good on his promise of following up his September 1980 article 'Synthesizers Sense and Sensibility' with more information on quality, reliability, and servicing with an article entitled 'The Battle of Cost vs. Quality'. The article makes up the main guts of this newsletter and does an excellent job of explaining why everything does...



Like the original battery in my 909 finally did last weekend. Now that is quality!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Steiner-Parker Synthacon II, Contemporary Keyboard 1976

Steiner-Parker Synthacon II (aka Two Voice Synthacon) duophonic synthesizer advertisement from page 22 of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine September/October 1976.

Although this second Contemporary Keyboard magazine advertisement from Steiner-Parker may look quite different, on the surface, from their first CK ad, it is actually quite similar - and I'm not just talking about size and shape. In that first advertisement, S-P shows a little attitude by declaring that S-P is the "fastest growing synthesizer company in the world".

This ad not only brings back the attitude, they dial it up a notch. You don't have to look very hard to realize that the name of the synthesizer is no where to be found. Either they expected everyone to know what synthesizer is pictured in the ad, or it was a ploy to get people curious enough to mail in for all the details. Either way, it was a ballsy move. And even more ballsy was that S-P went on to compare this unnamed synthesizer to a very well known competitor.

So, what synthesizer was S-P promoting?

The synthesizer in the advertisement is the duophonic Synthacon II. I've noticed that many on the 'net call it the 'Two-Voice Synthacon'. I think this might be because the description of the keyboard on the 1975 price list some people reference is:
"TWO VOICE SYNTHACON: The SYNTHACON II is identical to the monophonic version described below, except that when two keys are depressed, it plays two notes."
Sure, 'TWO VOICE SYNTHACON' is in all-caps, but that to me is more of an introductory description, and the fact that 'SYNTHACON II' is also in all-caps leads one to believe that this was the actual name of the synthesizer. Plus, it sounds cooler. :o)

The Synthacon came in both monophonic and duophonic versions. Early models featured a silver front panel, while later models, like the one photographed for this advertisement, had a black front panel.

Looking at the layout on the front panel, S-P was even ballsy when it came to the design of the Synthacon. Unlike most synthesizers that conform to the usual signal-flow lay-out from left to right (VCO --> VCF --> VCA) the Synthacon did the opposite. VCO's were located on the right side of the panel, and the graphic representation of the signal flowed to the left. Awkward during performance? Probably until you got used to it.

You can find some great photos and reference information on the Synthacon at and

In fact, you definitely have to check out the Synthacon in colour. To me, the color-coded toggle switches, especially great lookin' on the silver-faced model, are reminiscent of the colorful sliders on the earlier ARP Odyssey models.

And what synthesizer was S-P comparing the Synthacon to?

I'm thinking they are referring to the Minimoog. The Minimoog was the Big Cheese at the time. And according to my Moog 1974 price list, the monophonic Minimoog was retailing for $1595.00, while according to the S-P 1975 product list featured on, the duophonic Synthacon was going for $1395.00. So, two Mini's are going to cost you $3195 - a difference of $1795.00 for one Synthacon. Coincidence? I think not. But I'm open to other theories. And don't even start me on the drifting-oscillators jab.

Interestingly, Moog pulled a similar 'you-know-who-we-are-so-we-don't-even-have-to-tell-you-the name-of-the-synthesizer' advertising stunt years later in a 1979 Minimoog ad. And in their case, they pushed it up to a whole new level. Moog had both the reputation and silhouette-recognition factor to not even have to include their logo, let alone the model name of the synthesizer. That takes *balls*.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Steiner-Parker Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI), Multiphonic Keyboard, and Selective Inverter, Contemporary Keyboard 1976

Steiner-Parker Electronic Valve Instrument, Multiphonic Keyboard, and Selective Inverter advertisement from page 43 of Contemporary Keyboard May/June 1976. Plus, Steiner-Parker Dealer List advertisement from page 45 of the same issue.

This 1/3 page square advertisement was probably the earliest Steiner-Parker advertisement to appear in CK. The company's various ads actually caught my attention in some old issues of Synapse, so I did some digging in CK and found that this one is slightly older than the ones that I have from Synapse, so I thought I better start here. I've also included a dealer list ad that appeared two pages later in the same issue. Figured I'd add it 'for the record'.

Steiner-Parker isn't one of the more well-known companies from the 1970's (well, to me anyways), so it's nice to see that there is actually quite a bit of information available on the Web about the company and many of its instruments.

A great starting point is's relatively comprehensive 'Get to Know Steiner-Parker' page, which provides quite a bit of history on the company. In a nutshell, the company was started in 1975 by Nyle Steiner and Dick Parker, along with a third partner that apparently has remained nameless all these years.

Within the year, they had a number of products on the market including all three featured in the above ad. The same page on includes this 1975 product list, showing that they cranked out a lot of gear designs in that year, and great evidence toward their claim that they were "the fastest growing synthesizer company in the world".

Except that the company dissolved in 1979.

But one piece of gear has lived on...

Steiner-Parker, and Nyle Steiner in particular, is probably best known for the creation of the Electronic Value Instrument - aka EVI - a trumpet-based synthesizer controller.

According to the first chapter of Ron Cole's doctoral dissertation, "The Electronic Valve Instrument: Nyle Steiner's Unique Musical Innovation" (an edited version of this first chapter can be found on the Web site), development of the EVI began as early as 1971.

I found a great photo of an EVI prototype on's EVI page (image originally from Audities Foundation Calgary AB, Canada)

According to the dissertation, the first EVI's rolled off the manufacturing line in 1975 and were quite 'basic' in ability - 'only controlling on/off tone generation in a dedicated synthesizer module'. But, by the end of the 70's, the company had sold around 200 units and the EVI had expanded to include 'CV (control voltage) directed volume via manipulation of air pressure at the breath sensor, a vibrato sensor, a "bite sensor" for controlling a portamento effect, and pitch bending plates (albeit retro-fitted by Steiner)'.

Here's an image of a production EVI also from the page (image originally from Audities Foundation Calgary AB, Canada).

Although the Steiner-Parker company dissolved at the end of the '70s, Steiner continued to build and promote theEVI through Crumar, imaginatively calling the instrument the 'Crumar EVI' (why mess with a good name).

During this time period, MIDI popped onto the scene and JL Cooper Electronics and Steiner created a midi adapter for the EVI, allowing 'the Crumar EVI to transmit MIDI note on and note off, aftertouch, pitchwheel (pitch bend), and breath control (which could be used to control several effects, including volume)'. Interestingly, Crumar never modified the EVI itself to include MIDI.

By the mid-80s, Steiner continued to develop the specs of the EVI and also started to develop a similar instrument - the Electronic Woodwind Controller (EWI), originally known as the Steinerphone (okay, good call on the name change...).

The latest prototypes of both instruments were sold to Akai in 1986 and commercial units known as the EVI-1000 and EWI-1000, along with the accompanying EWV-2000 synth module, came out the following year. The EVI was eventually discontinued in 1990, but the EWI continued to sell and has eventually evolved into the EWI-4000.

Steiner continues to convert EWI3000+'s into EVI's, shoving the innards into a newly redesigned EVI body. Cost is around $200 bucks (BYOEWI).

Still with me?

Then go check out's official Nyle Steiner home page that includes *a lot* of great info, facts, photos and links about the man and the instrument.

Once you have checked that site out, then go get your Mark Hatch on.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dataton 3301 Polyphonic Computer, June 1979

Dataton 3301 Polyphonic Computer from page 5 of Contemporary Keyboard Magazine June 1979.

Every couple of years, this stand-out, tongue-and-cheek advertisement and questions about the Swedish company Dataton, makes it's way around the 'net. And each time the topic is brought up, a bit more information about Dataton is revealed. I'm not sure what this cyclic/additive effect is called, but I thought I would try and illustrate this Internet phenomenon by pulling together the information time-line of Dataton into a quick long-weekend post.

I'd first heard of Dataton on the Analogue Heaven email list, so it made sense to start my research there. I did a quick search of the archives, and remembered one thing that I keep forgetting: Never start searching the Analogue Heaven archives when you are trying to write a 'quick' blog post.

Why? Because you will immediately get lost in all the great reference information
as you start digging through all those emails. You will forget that you were actually working on a blog post.

Back to the post... (an hour and a half later!)

The AH archive records do support my often faulty/nutrisweet-impared memory. Dataton was mentioned as early as 1996 in someone's modular manufacturers list. It also shows that this advertisement was being passed around the 'net as early as 2000 and that Dataton was again mentioned again in 2004.

In 2006, Dataton photos showed up in an October MATRIXSYNTH post which linked to a Flickr set by hugo_33_im_toaster. A response to that post pulls info directly from the 2004 AH reply from 'Lorne in Canada':
" My info sheet came from Bjorn sandlund in the fall of 1977. Dataon AB was in Linkoping Sweden (sorry about the umlauts etc). About half the units were available in October 1977 with several units expected in2nd quarter 1978, such as the Quad bus tranceiver and the force sensitive keyboard. Lots of QUAD modules, tactile controllers and a light sensitive element, a module with 2 quad-axis joysticks, and quad universal filter, each with 4 modes per filter), a power amp unit, a digital sequencer unit, lots of links to lighting voltages, ring mod unit, analog electronic cross-coupled reverb unit (3102), octave based graphic equalizer unit, quad enevelope generator that can be patched for use as a tremelo unit or vocoding. The module brochure is 33" x 23" so it wont scan on my scanner, sorry, and it is an odd colour. The modules were in 5x7" aluminum boxes that plug (din) or cable together with connectors on all four sides for most of them. Lots of mixer slide units, so it was sold as an EM studio item, mixer console for film and theatre, and multimedia installations. The unit sat flat on a table, the more modules the bigger the table in the brocure, but stage racks were available, never seen., also XLR rack adapters. The sequencer was $1375CDN or 5.455 Swedish Crowns in Oct. 1977. There were pedal controllers, dissolvers and printer units planned. Datatron AB was copyright 1975 according to the fine print. Sweden's answer to the Synthi and the Wavemaker. Known recordings: ?

Lorne in Canada "
So, who is this Bjorn Sandlund mentioned in the first sentence of the quote above?

Well, according to the comments section of a June 2007 Dataton advertisement post on the 'Create Digital Music' Web site, he is none other than the (still current) President of Dataton, and helped design this delicious/misogynistic(?) advertisement. From the comments:
" I happen to know everything about this device and the entire system it belonged to (Dataton System 3000 modular syntesizer and light/projector control system) because I designed it. I also was involved in the design of the ad togehter with a US-native synth guru named Patrick Fitzpatrick. “I know exactly the style they epxpect from an ad over there” he told me and let his girlfriend act as a housewife in their basement on the picture. I outlinied tho photo with a sissor (Photoshop was not available in 1978รข€¦) and made the background graident using blach spray color.
When I get the time (I’m still the president of the company I intend to collect all the documents for all the syntesizer modules and make them available on the web, including all manufacturing and design details.
Bjorn Sandlund "
Shortly afterwards, another MATRIXSYNTH post also from June 2007 pointed to the Dataton page on the Musikmuseet Web site. There are some good photos and reference information for a few pieces of gear, but it is far from being a complete synthesizer resource. Try doing some gear searches and see what comes up. It's a great place to get lost on a Sunday afternoon (quote from the girlfriend.... :o)

Finally, in October 2008, the advertisement made it onto MATRIXSYNTH again, with links back to the Musikmuseet Web site and a new link to the Web site.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, each time the Dataton name is brought up on the 'net, someone comes out of the woodwork with another piece of the Dataton puzzle. Again, I'm not sure what this cycle of regurgitated-yet-additive information is called, but you can clearly see what I'm talking about.

End note: A few of you might bring this up, so I thought I better mention it. AWESOME LOGO. Both the D-sinewave logo and t he logo-text font have stood the test of time and are still being used by Dataton. They look as current now as they did in 1979 - good qualities of a great brand identity.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Arp Odyssey Reference Sheet, 1972

ARP Odyssey reference sheet from 1972.

How quickly ARP learns!

Last post, I blogged about an ARP 2600 reference sheet that... well, shall we say... was an understandably ugly first step in ARP's evolution of reference sheets. But, the company quickly grew appendages and flopped onto the sandy beaches of the synthesizer world with this one.

Gone is the cramped, verbal diarrhea of the not-so-reference-y sales material that in my opinion just doesn't belong on a one-pager reference sheet. In its place, we see an overall improvement in design and white space.

Starting at the top is the big fat ARP logo we all know and love, followed by the word 'Odyssey' in a font similar enough to the logo-type usually found on early Odysseys that I can live with it. Sure, its not as 'square' as the real logo-type, but the y's are especially close enough.

Directly beneath is a nice large photo of the instrument. ARP realized that there just isn't room for a wire-frame outline, and so they provided a photo of the front panel big enough that the reader can see the general layout, and tagged all the juicy bits with reference numbers leading to descriptive text below the image.

Oh, how I do love reference material.

The only thing that really bugged me about this sheet is that ARP still hadn't learned to add in print dates. And I need that date for my titles... :o)

I easily narrowed down the date to pre-1975 - the white-faced model used in the photos was the first of three general models produced by ARP. The first between 1972-1974.

I could narrow the date down further with the tag line "THE ULTIMATE MUSICAL TRIP". This same tag line is used in the description of the Odyssey on the second page of the ARP family dealer ad sheet that I pegged as being printed in either in 1972 or 1973.

Even the smaller image used in this reference sheet is the *exact* same image used in that dealer ad sheet (size too!).

But what is this?

Looking at the larger Odyssey image I couldn't help think that there was something out of wack. Something just seems odd. Did you notice it yet? Take a close look at the logo on the right-hand side of the image, just above the keyboard. That logo-type is made up of all capital letters!

All the older Odysseys that I've seen have a logo that just has a capital 'O', with the rest of the letters in lower case. A quick Google Images search seems to confirm this. Also,'s Odyssey page has photos of all three models, and the first two models definitely show the lower-case lettering that I'm familiar with.

So, chances are this is a prototype or a *very* early production Odyssey.

And pretty much the reason that I dated this reference sheet early in the Model 1's lifespan - 1972.

End note: Okay, I lied. One other thing bothers me.

The big 'POLYPHONIC!' stamp that appears in the middle of the page. The 'two-voice keyboard' is mentioned in the reference text (#18), so I'm thinking 'polyphonic' was stamped in later since it was a great buzz word at the time.

I have seen a few of these on eBay and elsewhere, and they all contain this stamp. If you know of one without the stamp, please let me know.