Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Kermit The Frog - SK-1 Sampling Keyboard


We've talked about the SK-1 -- Casio's highly successful sampling keyboard -- before. The SK-1 was a bit toylike thanks to its size, but it offered a lot of surprisingly professional features. Those more advanced facilities are stripped away in the EP-30, a more clearly toylike keyboard - but it's the only keyboard I know of that features Kermit the frog in top hat and tails.

All the buttons look eerily like cold capsules, and they don't have much work to do since the keyboard doesn't really do that much.  There are five instrument sounds, plus your sampled sound.  My favorite part may be that immediately after recording your sample, the keyboard plays it in a quick scale progression - often sounding more musical than anything else I've tried on the thing.

Casio_kermit2You get six of the original SK-1's analog "blip blip" beats, but there's no fill-in drum solo button.  It's got a built-in demo song that demonstrates things that you can't actually do with the keyboard - the tune has two different patches playing together, and Kermit is far from multi-timbral.

So what's this keyboard all about?  It's the green sharps and flats.  Now that you've seen this, don't you want to bust out the highway safety paint and spray the black keys on your keyboard green?  It's also neat to see a sampler that's clearly meant to be put in the hands of children.  When I look at toy keyboards today I don't know why there isn't one that samples - sampling tech is cheaper than ever.

Casio did really well with repurposing their sampling chops.  You can read about a couple Casio SK-1 variants below; a pink SK-1, and a very rare double-decker Casio - it looks like a Hammond B-3 in its teenage years.  One of these days I'll write about Casio's abortive attempt at professional music gear that also leverages its 1.7 seconds of sampling power.

Casio SK-1 in pink
DM-100 Casio two level keyboard


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