Electronics From An Alternate Universe
By James Grahame
There was an episode of the original Star Trek series in which Kirk found himself trapped in an alternate universe populated by a most unfriendly version of his crew -- the evil version of Spock sported a fantastic looking goatee. I get the same strange feeling (minus the facial hair) when exploring the world of Soviet-era electronics.
Many vintage Russian synthesizers end up on eBay, like this early 1980s Polyvoks analog synthesizer. Built in 1982 by the Formanta electronic factory, it offers two analog oscillators, an aggressive filter, and tons of twiddly knobs. What excites me most is the idea of struggling with a front panel full of controls labeled in abbreviated Russian. Non-Russian users will be forced to experiment and fumble around, ensuring the production of fantastic-sounding accidental bleeps and squawks.
As a bonus, the ad copy is written in brilliant almost-English:
"Polivoks has its own particular electronic parts, reliable keyboard (49 notes F–E) made in magnetically controlled contacts; synthesis modules consist of independent boards, which is convenient for maintenance. In addition, Polivoks is housed in an original body of uncommon design with handy controls. Being closed with a cover, the synthesizer turns into a strong aluminum case."
Polyvoks analog synthesizer info (Museum of Soviet Synthesizers)