Monday, February 28, 2011

Yamaha Electone E-70 organ, Contemporary Keyboard 1979

Yamaha Electone E-70 organ advertisement from page 23 in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine September 1979.

First time this ad ran, it was in black and white. All following ad runs were in color.

Not sure which I like best. It looks like they bumped up the brightness a bit in the black and white version, so you can make out more detail. But, this advertisement isn't really about detail. In fact, they include virtually no ad-copy about the organ at all. So, the colour version, with its soothing mood lighting, appeals more to my eye.

In the end, the ad ran so infrequently, I'm not sure if it had much of an effect. It seems to have first appeared in CK in September 1979, fourteen months after the first E-70/E-50/E-30 ad ended. And it ran only four or five times between September '79 and January '81. AND, in at least one of the issues it was featured in (February '80), Yamaha had FIVE ads running, so it probably got drowned out by their other ads as well.

But, none of that really matters, because my interest really isn't in the E-series ads (especially this one that has no reference info at all). My curiosity about these organs is all about my recent discovery that the E-series apparently has some things in common with the Yamaha CS-80. I had known about the connection between the Yamaha GX-1 and CS-80, but had never run across anything about the E-series/CS-80 connection.

As explained in my last blog post, this surprise first grabbed my attention in some rather recent comments on the CS-80 page at Vintage Synth Explorer. Commenter "FlameTopFred" was the first to start mentioning this connection on the page in January 2011.

After reading this, I started doing a bit of research, and it seems that the connection between the CS-80 and the E-70 didn't really gain traction online until somewhere around 2008. And, it appears that we can thank "FlameTopFred" for sharing a lot of that information with the synth AND organ communities.

It took a few minutes, but I soon hit gold. I found "FlameTopFred"'s initial E-70 purchase and a nice exchange of information on where he first started posting back in 2008.

And, as I read on, I found myself agreeing with "flametopfred"'s comments in that forum discussion:
"Funny sometimes, to think how many times as a surly teenager I walked quickly past the organ shop in the mall, or turned my back to the Yamaha Organ booth at the harvest fair at the end of summer ... if only I could go back in time with a bag of moneyand a large truck . . ."


Others started catching on to this apparent connection too. "Dr. Funk" half-jokingly comments on the same forum about the effect that "FlameTopFred" had on E-series prices.

"I think FlametopFred may have had an influence on the resale value of
analogue Electones!"

"FlameTopFred" soon started posting some great YouTube videos featuring his E-70. His "E-70: the CS-80 killer" playlist description is:

"Through recent heavy research and after having stumbled on an amazingly good deal on an Electone D-85, am now convinced that the Yamaha E-70 is in fact 90% of the famed CS-80 synthesizer. I used to own two of those, and always felt the need for a 2nd keyboard ~ which the E-70 provides for playing bass lines and comping chords."
More details on the E-70 can be found in a 2008 review of the E-70 organ by "wjbarry" on Harmony Central in the user reviews section. This review has some good information the features of the E-70, and also talked a bit more about the connection between the CS-80, GX-1 and E-70. And, based on the details in that review, I wouldn't be surprised if "FlameTopFred" and "wjbarry" are the same person. In fact, I'm almost sure of it... :o)

"FlameTopFred" also shared detailed information about the E-70/CS-80 connection on VintageKeyStudio's recent E-70 YouTube video upload. In reply to someone that didn't think the two instruments sounded similar, "flametopfred" wrote:
"I used to own two CS-80's as well, and then owned the E-70 and E-75. The E-70 was designed and made the same year as the CS-80 - - both direct children of the GX-1 testbed. The E-70 has the same electronic engine, and if you replace resistors with potentiometers on the preset board, becomes a CS-80 synth. No - - not totally identical. The E-70 offered dual banks of sound (couple-able to upper keyboard), plus bass mono synth, drum machine and arpeggiator.  Great package.
Turns out, the E-70 in that video was destined for the dump until VintageKeyStudio came to the rescue. They created a page on their Web site/blog dedicated to this "poor man's Yamaha CS80". A fun read. The page also linked to some good photos of the organ on an Electone history/summary site.

And, if you scroll to the very bottom of the page, you will find this: "2010 Mike Thompson".

Mike Thompson was the name of another one of the recent commenters on the Vintage Synth Explorer page that originally started me on my E-70 discovery/journey!

Interestingly, I couldn't find any real information on the E-70/CS-80 connection prior to posts by "FlameTopFred". For example, nothing came up in my few quick searches through the Analogue Heaven archives. But then again, I didn't dig too deep.
I did find one weak reference from a February 2000 Sound on Sound article where Gordon Reid mentions the Electone connection with the GX-1.

Close, but not really.
I recently tracked down "FlameTopFred"'s email address and sent him a few questions, and I just noticed an email back from him in my in-box. Excellent.
I'll share my findings in my next E-series post. Just like "FlameTopFred" did. :o)

End note: That Sound on Sound article also has a great story about Keith Emerson's move from Moog to Yamaha's GX-1...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Yamaha E-70, E50 and E-30 Electone Organs, Contemporary Keyboard 1977

Yamaha E-70, E50 and E-30 Electone Organs advertisement from page 23 in Contemporary Keyboard November 1977.

Normally I'm not an organ fan. And as a general rule, I flip by piano, electric piano and organ advertisements when reading through old issues of CK. For the most part, that is all Yamaha advertised for the first 11 months of 1977 (well, that and Yamaha music courses). Call me a synth-snob, but these ads just don't catch my interest.

But, Yamaha had a good reason for putting organ, electric piano, and organ ads in CK. Tom Darter, editor for Contemporary Keyboard at the time this ad appeared, presented the late 1976 survey results in the "From the editor" section of the February 1977 issue. And according to the survey:
  • 56% play acoustic piano
  • 50% play electric piano
  • 44% play electric organ
  • 35% play synthesizer
  • 11% play pipe organ
  • 9% play harpsichord
  • 5% play accordion
That's right. Only 35% of CK readers in 1976 played synthesizers. And so, Yamaha continued to advertise pianos, electric pianos, and organs throughout 1977, and I continued to ignore them - this ad included. Quite frankly, this ad and Yamaha organs in general would have continued to go totally unnoticed except that I was surfing around the Web and came across a small tidbit of information that I found rather intriguing.

It was recent comments on Vintage Synth Explorer's CS-80 page where "Flametopfred" wrote on January 20, 2011:
"In more recent years I have found the Electone E-70 and E-75 to be very good "siblings" of the CS-80 and retain many of the same sounds - - with the added bonus of dual sound banks, keyboard coupling, separate CS-80 bass synth, drum machine and arpeggiator."
And in response, "Mike Thompson" wrote on February 13, 2011:
"I also recently obtained an Electone E-70, and I am glad I played the CS-80 so I can now appreciate the similarities between the two..."
And "Bohemian86" commented on February 20, 2011:
"Yeah the E70 can be a quick shortcut to the CS sound. They also might be useful for parts for a non-working CS polysynth. I have one right now, unfortunately had to disassemble that beast to fit it down the steps. "
Well, ain't that intriguing! I hadn't heard anything about this apparent relationship between the CS-80 and the E-series Electones.

So, I decided to look up Yamaha's ads for the E-70 and it seems the E-series first appeared in CK in November 1977 with this ad for the E-70, E-50 and E-30 organs. . It continued to run fairly regularly throughout the winter, spring and summer until its last showing in July 1978. And, coincidentally, it was kinda replaced by an ad for the CS-80. So, timing-wise, these E-series organs and the CS-80 could very well have contained similar technology innards.

Reading through this ad, I found the ad-copy to be very "organ-y" until I came to the last paragraph, where it stated:
"What gives Yamaha's new Electone consoles such realistic voices and incredible versatility is a technology called Pulse Analog Synthesizing System, PASS for short."
Hmmm - "Pulse Analog Synthesizing System". Synthesis!

Actually, it sounded like a lot of hype to me. But, Yamaha wasn't really known for "hype", especially back in 1977.

A quick Google search brought me to the Electone Museum Web site, where it was explained that the E-70 (top of the line model), E-50 (mid-tier), and E-30 (smallest) organs all used PASS, which "took technology from the GX-1 and incorporated it into a consumer model instrument. The ramifications revolutionized the organ industry. Instruments voices began evolving towards emulating the true orchestral instruments rather than theater organ equivalents".

I recall I mentioned the GX-1 back in a June 2010 blog post about the Yamaha SY-2. Turns out the SY-2's filter has a connection to the GX-1. And the GX-1 has a connection to the CS-80. Ahhhhh.

Maybe PASS wasn't that "hype"-y a term. This whole thing definitely deserved more digging into.

But first...

Dinner. Stay-tuned for more research on the E-70 organ.

End note: Some of those other 1976 Contemporary Keyboard survey results are rather interesting too.
  • Average age of CK reader: 25.6 years
  • 86% of readers are male
  • 75% play rock
  • 62% play jazz
  • 61% play classical music
  • 51% play pop music
  • 40% play the blues
  • 28% delve into avant-garde music
  • 23% play country
  • 19% play traditional ragtime
  • 65% are professional or semi-pro musicians
  • 75% own TVs (what?)
  • 91% own stereos
  • 96% read standard music notation
  • 44% have had more that 10 years of formal keyboard study
  • average reader is a college graduate
  • 24% also play percussion
  • 15% work with brass instruments
  • 12% with reed
  • 9% with string
I wonder how this compares to today's readers of Keyboard magazine?

Monday, February 21, 2011

ARP Odyssey, Contemporary Keyboard 1977

ARP Odyssey advertisement from page 23 in Contemporary Keyboard May 1977.

Odyssey? Or ODDyssey...? <---- See what I did there :o)

At first glace, to me this looks like an ordinary ARP ad.

For example, the ad's format is quite standard - Name-> tag-line-> ad-copy-> logo-> image.

And ARP also keeps to their standard marketing strategies. The company doesn't miss the opportunity to promote their "human engineering" design philosophy - connecting it to their easy-to-read control panel, sliders and switches. And they nicely segue that topic into promoting not only all the accessories available for the Odyssey, but also into their other main advertising strategy: name-dropping. This time including Hancock, Corea, Duke, Winter and Wonder. Musicians so famous that ARP doesn't even have to include their first names.

But as I started to take a closer look at the ad, things started to go all "bajiggidy" on me. And the closer I looked, the more quirkier things became.

I figured it might be good therapy to just list them all out.

1. This is only the second Odyssey ad to appear in CK. The first ad was in the November/December 1975 issue of CK - almost a year and half earlier. Maybe ARP thought that they didn't need to advertise "the world's #1 synthesizer" very much. Not sure you can advertise too much... especially with the limited opportunities available in 1977.

2. This ad only seems to have appeared once in the magazine. As did the previous ad from Nov/Dec '75. As just mentioned, I just don't feel that this is enough exposure to get your message across. And, ARP must have felt they wanted to give this message exposure, because they also put a black and white version of this ad in the May/June 1977 issue of Synapse magazine.

3. The ad is only 2/3 of a page (two columns wide). And it is not like ARP couldn't afford a full page - the company had plenty of full-colour ads in CK on a regular basis, including one for the Pro/DGX in the back-inside cover of this issue. To my eyes, the 2/3 size just squishes everything together with little room for all the elements to breathe. Title, tag-line, ad-copy, logo, copyright, and that colour photo are all just crammed together. Give me white-space!

4. And speaking of that colour photo... it seems a little out of place in this otherwise black and white ad. Why wouldn't ARP splurge and just design a full-colour ad? It just feels off-balanced.

5. The placement of the ad on the page also adds to that off-balanced feeling. The ad is printed such that it is pushed in towards the inside of the page, and I purposely left all the extra white space on the top and right side of the ad so you could get an idea of just how squished it looks.

6. ARP strays away from that main message - "the Odyssey is #1". Out of nowhere, in the final paragraph of text (in a font that is oddly smaller than the rest of the ad-copy), ARP decides to throw in info about a five minute demo record... FOR THE OMNI. Why leave the reader thinking about a totally different instrument at the end of all that Odyssey lovin'?

Okay... breathe deeply...

Boy... after reading back all that bitterness above, I just realized that I must have woken up in a foul mood this morning. Seriously. And I don't know why, but I ended up taking it out on a poor innocent ARP advertisement.

But, looking back at the ad now, it becomes a bit more clear that maybe ARP tried a little too hard to stay on their ongoing marketing strategy in such a small space. This need for ARP to include everything but the kitchen sink in the ad probably caused 90% of the quirks.

But again, even with everything that I think is wrong with this ad, ARP could have done much worse.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ARP Brass Belt Buckle, 1977

Click images to view full size

ARP Brass Belt Buckle from 1977.

Man, I've been having fun. I've been playing around in my studio, but I find myself more interested in the logistics of it all rather than actually using it to create some semblance of sound. Moving this synth over here. Swiveling in my chair to see how it looks. See if my arm can reach it easily. Then moving that synth over there. Then back again...

Clearly I've hit rock bottom in some kind of creative slump.

Anyways, the whole studio switcheroo has been taking up a fair bit of my attention, and will probably continue to into the near future. So, to help free up some time I thought I would post a quickie, but a goodie.

Back in August 2009, I uploaded a few photos of my Sequential Circuits belt buckle and mentioned that I also had an ARP buckle in my collection. Since then, I've had more than a handful of emails asking me to post some photos of it. "Angelo" even posted a request for it in the comments section of this SCI merchandise blog post.

So, I finally got my lazy butt away from my scanner and over to my camera.

The one thing you will notice right away is that this ARP buckle isn't in as good condition as the SCI buckle. But, that ARP logo is still gorgeous. And the buckle does have the date stamped clearly on the back. Nice. Like my SCI belt buckle photos, I've also included a photo of the buckle with my favorite ARP synthesizer (Odyssey) so you can get an idea of it's size. It measures just a hair under 6 centimeters, which is about a hair and a half under 2.5 inches. So, lets just call it 6 cm/2.5" even.

Aside: The Odyssey in the photo was found at a second-hand music store a long while back. Poor thing wasn't in bad shape, but my tech buddy at the time cleaned up its innards nicely. It's missing most of it's slider caps, and the ones that are there are in pretty bad condition. I was thinking of getting new slider caps off eBay or somewhere (seen them there a few times) but now I'm thinking I might just save up for this "Lumina illuminated slider" upgrade. That is beautiful.

One thing that I find interesting is that this belt buckle is NOT included in the ARP software and accessories catalog that I posted recently. Both are dated at around 1977, so if the buckle was available to the general public, chances are it would have made it into the catalog. Especially since that ARP director's chair got in there. :o)

The person that I got this buckle from (and a few others that became the start of the collection) said he received it at a trade show. So, maybe these buckles were only available to dealers and a few fortunate others.

Lucky them!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day Sock Monkey with Synthesizer

You might recall that my gal Zenbecca created this collage and custom calendar back in 2009. Well, she was at her crafty best again - this time making me this retro sock monkey for Valentine's Day. And I just had to post it (technically, it is retro, and it's holding a synthesizer. :o)

And, I have to say, except for the lack of hair on the monkey, this pretty much is a spitting image.

The monkey is sporting my four favorite collectibles. All of which I am usually sporting every day as well.

Synthesizer - check.

Tie - check.

Digital calculator watch - check.

Pocket protector - check.

The synthesizer in the monkey's hands doesn't seem to be modeled after any specific synthesizer. But I kinda like the surreal-ness of it.

And, I'm a big fan of pocket protectors. I wear one to work every day, and my collection has grown such that I can now wear one to work every day for over five months without repeats.

But, I do have my favorites.

Monday, February 14, 2011

ARP Software and Accessory Catalog, 1977

ARP Software and Accessory Catalog from approximately 1977 (?).

Okay - before I even start in on the cool contents of this catalog, does anyone remember a time when software didn't mean... er... software? In this case, ARP's definition of software obviously refers to the manuals, patch books, etc.

But, it has me wondering - how far back does the word "software" go? And, was it common to refer to manuals and such as "software" before all those computer-folks took the term for themselves? Or was it just ARP using it?

Ivars Peterson did a bit of digging back in 2000 and wrote a piece for MathTrek (awesome column name BTW) about the word's origins, and it included this little bit about the Oxford Dictionary's records:
"The current edition of the dictionary dates the word software back to 1960, though researchers have discovered an 1850 occurrence of the term in a very different context--for distinguishing two types of garbage, where "soft-ware" referred to matter that would decompose and "hard-ware" to anything else."
No help there. But he also includes this quote from a 1958 American Mathematical Monthly article by John W. Turkey:
"Today the "software" comprising the carefully planned interpretive routines, compilers, and other aspects of automative programming are at least as important to the modern electronic calculator as its "hardware" of tubes, transistors, wires, tapes and the like."
And in a way, the patch books and manuals are "software", in the sense that they are providing the programming instructions that our brains use to program the hardware synthesizers.

Wow. That was getting a little deep. Gonna stop there and look at this ARP catalog content.

What a great piece of synthesizer history. This six-page fold-out mailing catalog has so much information. And besides just being something fun to look it, it is literally a check-off list for anyone collecting ARP memorabilia.

I mean, just look at "Et Cetera" section... the stuff you could have ordered from ARP!

  • ARP T-Shirt - $5.25
  • ARP Case Sticker - $1.00
  • ARP Window Decal - $1.00
  • And **THE** BEST: ARP Director's Chair - $40.00
Director's chair? That seemed a little out of place. But, one quick Google Images search later and I come across these photos.

The first is a photo from this Web page of a Sequential Circuits director's chair apparently taken at Dave Smith's booth at NAMM. The second is a photo of TWO Oberheim director's chairs from a 2007 MATRIXSYNTH post.

Aside: Obie Taylor wins the award for prediction of the decade with the comment at the bottom of the MATRIXSYNTH post: "Now if only Tom Oberheim would sit in one of those dang chairs to direct the making of a new monster synth. Mmmmmm luscious."

Okay - back to the chairs.

WTF? No seriously. When did this all begin? And how did I miss out on the whole "Hey! Every synth company needs a director's chair" thing? Gah!

I couldn't find any evidence of Moog or Korg director's chairs, but that doesn't mean they didn't exist. I've never been to NAMM, so maybe they are all sitting on these things in their booths. But, even without any Moog or Korg chairs, three companies is enough for me to consider that this was maybe some kind of weird trend during this time period.

Which brings me to the big question. What is the time period for when this catalog became available for mailing? There is no date anywhere that I can see, but the content of the catalog does give us some good clues.

The creepy ARP sequencer advertisement that becomes visible to the reader when he/she would have first unfolded the catalog after excitedly taking it out of the mailbox could be found in Contemporary Keyboard magazine by the end of 1976.

Also, the instruments in the catalog pretty much line up with this 1976 ARP family of products ad that appeared in the spring of 1976. Except for the ARP Omni - which isn't listed in that 1976 ad, but was promoted in CK starting in early 1977. And in my blog posts about those Omni ads, I spend a bit of time on the Omni's manufacturing start date.

So, based on this evidence, I'm guessing the catalog became available sometime in 1977.

Anyone else have any ideas?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moog Prodigy synthesizer reference sheet, 1980

Gah - here's exactly what I'm talking about! Wait... let me back up.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that Moog's Prodigy always had to be a bit different. And, for some reason, this idea has carried on into Moog's 1980 reference sheet family. It's kinda subtle, but if you look at all of the other reference sheets I've posted, you will see it.

See it now? Yerp. The background in the photo! In all the other reference sheets I've come across in this series, the background is a single colour with vertical shading.

But nooooooooooo! The Prodigy just had to be a bit different (again). This time by showing up to the photo-shoot with a textured background. Normally I'm into 'different', but in the case of a family of reference sheets, I'm a creature of habit in a lot of ways. I need consistency.

And this reference sheet is missing consistency in other aspects too. For example, take a look at the title at the top. For all the other ones I've posted, the title has been:
  • micromoog synthesizer
  • minimoog synthesizer
  • polymoog synthesizer
But with the Prodigy, they not only dropped in 'moog' at the beginning, but took out 'synthesizer'. I'm guessing this is because the Prodigy doesn't have the word "Moog" directly in the name of the instrument, and you need to have the word "moog" somewhere at the top of the front page. But still... gah! Consistency, people!

Luckily, Moog does stick to a lot of the 'standards' found in the other reference sheets. For example, they don't miss a chance to mention "the patented Moog filter for rich, full-bodied leadline sounds". I also really like the line, "The sound and quality of a primary instrument at the price of an accessory". Moog were always especially good at promoting their low-end synths. Low-end as in "price", AND low-end as in "bass" :o)

Moog keeps the standards going on the back of the sheet too. The first thing the company points out under the "features" section is the "temperature regulated ultra stable audio oscillators (Heated chip technology)". Moog was big on promoting that one, especially for the Micromoog.

The back of the reference sheet also contains some other promotion-type features I can't recall hearing about anywhere else for the Prodigy.

The first is the "E-Z-SEE(TM) control knobs" mentioned under the "Features" section. These knobs were apparently designed "so that position of the indicator line can be viewed from any playing angle". Trademarked? Really? I had never heard of these knobs referred to in this way. And a quick Google search didn't bring up anything either.

Also - they have a whole sub-section titled "Burn-In (Aging)". "Before final calibration, units are burned in for 72 hrs. at ambient of approximately 72F". I know what burn-in is, but I thought all synths of this time period would have had to go through burn-in. Was the Prodigy different in this respect, or was Moog just grasping for content on the back on this sheet?

Now, don't get me wrong. It may look like I'm slagging Moog and this sheet in particular. Never! This sheet contains a wack of good reference information. And Moog is well... well... MOOG!

I'm just saying that *if* they wanted to use up a bit more room on the back of the sheet, rather than highlighting "burn-in", Moog should have included a wire-frame diagram!

I *heart* wire frame diagrams. :o)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Moog Prodigy ad #2, Contemporary Keyboard 1980

Moog Prodigy advertisement #2 from page 67 in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine November 1980.

Moog, like most synthesizer companies, followed a standard format with many of their ads. It was usually some variation on: synth name -> lead headline -> photo -> ad copy. Like this 1976 ad for the Micromoog, this 1976 ad for the Polymoog, or this 1978 ad for the Multimoog.

But, then, around 1979, Moog started to have more fun with ads. For the Minimoog, they went minimal, while for the Prodigy and a few other synths, they went more... er... experimental... maybe 'different' (for lack of being able to think of a better word at the moment).

For the Prodigy's 1979 introductory ad, the bulk of the ad-copy is made up of dictionary definitions for "Prodigy" and "production control" - and it is only the last line that has any real Moog Prodigy info in the form of its price, and Moog address. I really liked it.

For the Prodigy's encore ad that appeared later on in 1980, Moog had even more fun, while also providing relevant technical information sorely missing from that initial ad. From the top down, this ad doesn't disappoint.

First, we have the name of the synth in an awesome font. Large. Bold. And directly underneath is the lead - "THE SYNTH HEARD AROUND THE WORLD".

And then Moog goes on to point out all the features of the Prodigy - IN THREE LANGUAGES. The meat of this ad is very reminiscent of Korg's beloved technical ads for the MS-20 and MS-10. But then again, there is only so many ways you can format this type of ad.

Finally, the bottom of the ad is divided into two sections. On the right is, not surprisingly, a LARGE Moog logo and their tag line "We're the people who started it all!". But, what you find on the left side is a little surprising.

Just like in the technical section of the ad, Moog decided to print three quotes in three different languages. English, French and German. So what's so surprising? The English quote is not from a U. S. magazine. Under some circumstances, this could have alienated CK magazine's U.S. audience, but the theme of the ad minimized this risk completely.

Another surprising thing about this ad - it is in black and white. By 1980, many of the big-name companies were printing in colour to make their ads stand out. And in this issue, those names included Oberhiem, New England Digital, Korg and Horner. But this Prodigy ad stands out for just this reason. And even more so since in this November issue of CK, it was placed directly across from a full colour Moog ad for the Opus 3.

And that pretty much sums it up. The fun thing about the Prodigy is that it always had to be a little bit different.

You can find most of my Prodigy brain-dump in my blog post for the first Prodigy ad. Not much more to add on that front. My infatuation with the synthesizer has died down to a normal level, but am still pondering the purchase of one.

Meh. Maybe next month... :o)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Moog Micromoog synthesizer reference sheet, 1980

Moog Micromoog synthesizer reference sheet from 1980.

Its been quite a while since I posted one of these Moog 1980 reference sheets I have kickin' around. I posted the Polymoog sheet and the Minimoog sheet in early 2010. I've even created a label called Moog 1980 reference sheet family since there are quite a few of them in the series.

Like the two sheets that I have already posted, I've seen scans of the front of the sheet on many sites around the Web, but not the back. And, as I've always said, it is the back of these sheets that contain all the juicy info!

And I'm not just saying that because I'm such a fan of wire-frame diagrams (of which I have to say I'm happy to see both the front and back panel of the instrument). For example, the back of the sheet also makes reference to the Micromoog's "open system" capabilities. Heck, Norlin even highlights this feature on the front of this sheet by underlining it.

According to the sheet, the Micromoog open system consists of "extended input/output capacity, allowing you to "interface several Micromoogs so their controls interrelate". Huh? What?

But on the back of the sheet, readers do learn more details about this system, such as the availability of S-trig inputs and outputs as well as a modulation input/output jack that "allows an external switch to turn modulation on and off" as well as "route modulation signals to external equipment or feed in modulation signal from external equipment". That's a little better...

But, interestingly, this really cool feature is never mentioned in the Micromoog ads from 1976 and 1977, and my guess is there were two reasons for this intentional oversight. The first is that Moog was positioning the Micromoog for its "simplicity and economy" in these ads. Trying to explain the "open system" would probably have just complicated things too much in an ad-copy format. The second reason is that back in 1976/77, not too many people were buying MULTIPLE synthesizers, which is what the "open system" was all about. Maybe they thought is was better to leave it out of the ads rather than risk alienating the more economic-ly inclined musicians that they were trying to connect with in the ads. Let the salespeople talk face-to-face with the professionals that have the cash, and explain to them how the synth can connect to their other more expensive Moog synthesizers. But again, that's just my guess. It could also be that early Micromoogs just didn't have this feature... didn't research that part yet... :o)

But in other aspects, this reference sheet tows the Micromoog party line first initiated in those earlier ads. "Human engineering" - one of Moog's favorite terms - is mentioned on the front of the sheet. As is the "temperature regulated ultra stable audio oscillators (heated chip technology)", that were initially positioned as "thermostated oscillators" in the synth's 1976 ad, and then dumped in the 1977 ad in favor of the more easily comprehensible "oscillator control circuit". And of course, the sheet hits on the fact that the Micromoog contains the same filter as the Minimoog to "give you that famous fat Moog sound".

But it's not just the reference info on the back of this sheet that provides interesting... er... reference info... . Its also the date at the very bottom. This reference sheet was apparently printed in 1980, but most Web sites, such as Wikipedia and have the Micromoog only manufactured until 1979. If Norlin was just clearing out the rest of the inventory, I doubt they would have included it in their 1980 reference sheet collection. They must either have had more than a few sitting around, or it was in fact still in production.

Also interesting is the fact that the Micromoog hadn't been advertised in Contemporary Keyboard since late 1977 - three years previous to this fact sheet coming out. There was a small Norlin ad that popped up in 1979 that included mention of the Micromoog, but nothing else Micromoog specific.

I guess my point is that although it hadn't been promoted by Moog (in CK at least) since 1977, and manufacturing may have stopped in 1979, the company still felt that it needed to be included in Moog 1980 family of reference sheets.

And that's family for ya!