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.

Digital Music Synth Fetish

Con Brio ADS 200
There was a piece on Matrixsynth a couple of days ago about his favorite digital retro synth, the Con Brio ADS 200. This stunningly weird $30,000 monster was created in 1978 and only two were actually built. According to creator Tim Ryan, an earlier version -- the ADS 100 -- was used to generate sound effects for Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The enormous ADS 200 required five microprocessors to perform 64 oscillator "additive synthesis, phase modulation, frequency modulation, nested phase and frequency modulation, and combinations of all modes."  Unfortunately, users required a PhD or airline pilot's license to figure out the multicolored control panel.

Wanna know about my favorite digital synth? Follow the "Continue reading" link.

Con Brio 200 (Matrixsynth)

This is my all-time favorite -- the Waldorf Wave -- introduced by German manufacturer Waldorf GmbH in 1993. It's a direct descendant of Wolfgang Palm's incredibly popular PPG Wave digital synthesizers from the early 1980s (Palm actually designed the Waldorf ASIC sound synthesis chip, although he wasn't a Waldorf employee).

The Wave was the ultimate extension of Palm's digital wavetable scanning concept, in which various different sound waveforms could be played back in sequence. The effect was an unmistakable burble of sound. Old-fashioned analog filters were used to process the sound because digital audio still lacked warmth in the early 1990s.

Most functions had a corresponding physical knob and there was a huge (for the time) 480 x 64 pixel display. The instrument could be expanded from 16 to 32 or 48 voices and offered a 3.5" disk drive for sound storage. Three stereo outputs were provided to give you the freedom to mix and mangle the Wave's output as needed.

Alas, Waldorf disappeared into the mists of time before I had a chance to get my hands on one.

Waldorf Wave (reviews at Sonic State)


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