Alesis MMT-8 MIDI Sequencer - Bringing The Beats Since '87
I found this sequencer among some of my older music gear in storage (i.e. the closet of broken dreams). The Alesis MMT-8 was born in 1987,when it's features and low price combined to make it a wildly popular piece of gear. Surprisingly, this is a piece of retro gear that still gets interest. Even with all of today's cool laptop music, there's still room in the studio for the old MMT-8.
The spec sheet may not exactly impress today. The unit can hold 100 songs - as long as you don't go over 10,000 notes. There's internal storage in the form of a built-in battery. You can also export data either via MIDI or by recording sequence data out to audio cassette (and I can tell you firsthand what a hateful and tense way that was to save your precious songs.)
One aspect keeping interest in the MMT-8 alive is that this unit is an interesting link between MIDI and older devices that came before - you can use the "click out" jack to drive ancient drum machines. Despite these limitations, the MMT-8 still fascinates musicians and retains a cult following, more than 20 years after its release - there's even an online fansite at MMT8.com.
The MMT-8 has an interesting pedigree. It was designed by Marcus Ryle (of Line 6 fame) of Fast Forward Design (who also did the even more famous Alesis HR-16 drum machine) around an Intel 80C31 microcontoller. Up 'til that point, Alesis had mostly been an effects company, and the success of this slope-faced pair paved the way for widely diversifying what they offered musicians. Ryle went on to design Alesis' Quadrasynth and their famous ADAT digital recording system.
I have to sheepishly admit that I really never used this. I have much more time logged in as a digital drummer with the HR-16 drum machine mentioned earlier. I kept it around in hopes of messing with its novel approach to creating music (Especially after digging up lots of info online about the sequencer). I guess I'll just leave that up to Orbital, Moby, Jimmy Edgar, Higher Intelligence Agency, Autechre, and Carl Craig who all still use the MMT-8 for live performance.