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This Digital Synthesizer Was Accidentally A Cosmic Beast

Behold: The Alles Machine.

It’s amazing to think that many of our favorite music technologies originally had nothing to do with music. A lot of our favorite hardware actually comes from the scientific community.

Case in point is this vintage digital synthesizer presentation from 1977. It provides proof that changes in the demands of mass communication had a huge impact on the future of digital synthesis. These developments included the modulation of voice and mass sample banks that were fundamental to telephone exchanges, but held huge potential for sonic experimentation. Laurie Spiegel was a Alles Machine virtuoso. And, in fact, the synth was later consolidated into the Crumar GDS, the synthesizer Wendy Carlos would use to record the score for Tron. Plus, you gotta admit—this hulking, proto-MPC looks pretty darn cool.

How times have changed: Watch artificial intelligence jam on a digital synth here. You can also play a digital modular synth in your browser here.