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.

Casio SK-1 Sampling Keyboard... In Pink!


The Casio SK-1 was mind-bending piece of technology toyware back in the 80's.   Like many other mini keyboards, the SK-1 had a couple of good sounds, cheesy white-noise rhythms (like your grandma's organ, even a limited editable synthesizer.  Eclipsing all of those abilities was that the SK-1 was the first affordable sampling keyboard.

The groundbreaking SK-1 (one of mine still has its original $139.00 price tag) would let you sample any sound in the world - any 1.4 second long sound, that is - into this little battery powered dream.  By speeding and slowing down the sample, any noise at all becomes an instrument that you can play on the keyboard.

Sk1mic_1 Perhaps some of you had the moral strength to use the sampler only for good, wholesome recordings.  But who among us can truthfully say that he (or in the case of this pink keyboard, "she") hasn't burped or "cut a muffin" into the microphone to play a rude version of Jingle Bells?  Or slowed your voice down to a snarling crawl to terrorize siblings?  My favorite trick was to find the demo unit at local stores, turn the volume all the way up and sample "Don't touch me!" into it.

Casio SK-1's are quite easy to find on Ebay starting at about $30.  This pink variation however is crazy rare.  It must have been some marketing boffin's idea to appeal to girl musicians.  Bad for social progress, good for those of us who love weird keyboards.

Lots of musicians still use SK-1's for fooling around, or to get that signature low-fi sound - I actually saw Portishead use one in concert.  What's weird is that for such a tremendously fun instrument, nothing has taken its place today. 

We all know that the tech for digital sampling in toys costs next to nothing, so where are all the cool tiny keyboards with tons of power?  Has sampling returned to the domain of the professionals again?  I hope not.  For one thing, no one is going to make an 88 key sampler with turquoise colored keys...

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Casio DM-100 Double-Decker Sampler

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