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.

Winter NAMM 2008: Some Beautiful Retro Surprises

The 2008 Winter NAMM show is drawing to a close in Anaheim, California. It's the premiere music industry showcase in North America, featuring literally thousands of the latest musical instrument developments. Here's a quick look at some Retro electronic gear that stood out from the crowd this year.

Moogvoyageros Minimoog Voyager Old School - The Minimoog established the synthesizer in pop music during the early 1970s. The latest instrument to bear the Moog name is the $2595 Voyager OS, based upon the popular line of Minimoog Voyager analog synthesizers. Unlike its more complicated brothers, the OS offers no digital patch memories or MIDI communication jacks. In fact, there's no on-board microprocessor at all. The end result is a 3-oscillator completely analog monosynth that hearkens back to the release of the original Minimoog and sells for $500 less than it's digitally enhanced sibling. Still, the jury's out on how well a machine without modern capabilities will sell in the 21st century.

Prophet 08 module

Dave Smith Prophet 08 synth module - The Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 was one of the most famous musical synthesizers of all time. Almost 30 years later, Smith followed up with the $2199 Prophet 08 keyboard. This year, he's turning things up a notch by unveiling the tiny Prophet 08 tabletop version. It features the same intuitive user interface and sound as the keyboard, but without the bulk (and with a $500 smaller price tag). Don't let the size fool you, though, it has eight analog voices featuring genuine Curtis analog lowpass filter chips and digitally-controlled analog oscillators (DCOs) and a glorious front panel that offers 52 knobs, almost two dozen buttons, and oodles of blinky LEDs.


Special Edition microKORG - The $399 microKORG 4-voice synthesizer was released in 2002, so it doesn't qualify as a vintage instrument. However, the new Special Edition model sports a "reverse key" white-on-black keyboard that reminds us of a similar color scheme offered on the classic Korg Poly 800 synth in 1984.

Beatbox Frenzy
- 2008 looks to be an exciting year for fans of hardware rhythm machines. In addition to Roger Linn's LinnDrum II, both Akai and Alesis have unveiled quite capable looking hardware. The $399 Alesis SR-18 is the first Alesis drum machine to hit the market since 1990. It's capable of running on batteries or AC power and includes a built-in digital effects engine. The $499 Akai XR20 is a direct descendant of the famed MPC rhythm samplers. Unlike it's bigger brothers, this low cost entry doesn't allow user-created samples. However, it offers more than 700 built-in sounds, velocity sensitive backlit pads, integrated effects and a microphone input so you can rant angrily over your beats.


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