Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Roland "We design the future" MC-202 Microcomposer brochure, 1983

Roland "We design the future" MC-202 Microcomposer 8-page colour brochure from 1983.

Happy 2/02 day! And I got a doozy for ya. Behold the magnificent MC-202 "We design the future" brochure.

Over the last couple of weeks, we've heard a lot of about hedging. In particular, GameStop's share price skyrocketing, messing with hedge funds that poured huge amounts of cheddar into shorting Gamestop's stock. And then those hedge funds having to hedge those shorts by buying stock at an ever increasing price, making the stock go even higher. Or, at least that's how I understood it. Don't @ me if I'm wrong.

Point is... Hedge. And I'm thinking this MC-202 brochure is kinda symbolic of Roland's hedge against MIDI. I'm not saying Roland was against MIDI - NOT AT ALL! They were definitely on the forefront of the technology. I just think, like any good company would and should, they were hedging their bets. 

More on that in a bit. But first, for some background info (and because its simply amazing!), we need to flip through the brochure.

Like most of the "We design the future" brochures, we get that classic front page - a large red title, large artistic image, that lovely logo top left. Flip to page 2 and 3, and we continue Roland's classic brochure format with a large image of the featured piece of gear and some great marketing info. Yum!

But then something weird happens. We turn the page to what should be the back of the brochure.


More info? That's right - no back page here. Instead we get two more pages on how to use the MC-202 specifically. So awesome. Lot's of diagrams. Lot's of info. Read through that an you are pretty much an expert on programming the MC-202. 

*throws manual in garbage* Thank you very much. 

Okay...  NOW let's flip the page and take a look at what's on that back page...


First a page titled "Play Bach" that puts those programming chops we just memorized on the previous two pages to work to actually churn out some Bach on the MC-202. No kidding.   And across the street we get a page devoted to the "Expandability of the MC-202" which includes a Who's Who list of kick-butt Roland products while describing what's going on on the back panel of the 202.  


Then. FINALLY. We turn the page and get the classic brochure back page that Roland is known for. Info on Roland's TB-303, TR-606 and SH-101. 

Interestingly, all these devices on that page have one thing in common (besides being Roland gear):  


MIDI was just around the corner and by 1983 Roland, who was a big developer of MIDI technology, had already started on the design of Roland's first MIDI interface - the MPU-401. But what if MIDI didn't take off? What if it was a dud? 

I believe Roland spent significantly more resources, print ink and page real estate on this MC-202 brochure to hedge that MIDI bet. I realize, in the grand scheme of things, the cost of this brochure would pale in comparison to the cost of the development of that MPU-401 interface. It's really more of a symbolic hedge after spending significantly more money on developing Roland's next gen non-MIDI gear - the TB-303, TR-606 and SH-101. 

Yeah, sure, I have no data to back any of this up. It's just a hunch. 

But I did just hedge my comment by saying I have no data to back any of this up. :)

Aaaaah. Hedging.

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