[sdiy] AH discussion: History: Don Lewis, Roland, TR-808, popular electronic music

Adam Inglis 21pointy at tpg.com.au
Sun Jan 19 00:16:38 CET 2014

On 17/01/2014, at 3:52 PM, Robin Whittle wrote:

> On the Analogue Heaven mailing list
> http://machines.hyperreal.org/Analogue-Heaven/ I just wrote about Don
> Lewis, his contribution to the design of the 1970s Roland Drum  
> machines,
> and to the design of the TR-808.
> http://analogue-heaven.1065350.n5.nabble.com/History-Don-Lewis-Roland-TR-808-popular-electronic-music-td117939.html

" In August 1991 there was a big Audio Engineering Society conference  
trade fair here in Melbourne, Australia.  Wandering around the exhibits
I met Mr Kakehashi and introduced myself.  I had no business card, but I
gave him a copy of the documentation for my TR-808 modifications (extra
memory, sound mods and 4 level accent mods) - which he said was "a very
complete business card".  We talked about the marvel of the LSI chip at
the heart of the D-50 and MT-32.  He said they had to "pay and pay"
Fujitsu to have it developed.  He was animated, sociable and very
communicative in English.

He suggested that I might be able to do some design work for Roland.  A
year later, after sorting out various things, I wrote to him, proposing
to work on designing a machine which combined the capabilities of the
TR-808 and TB-303, with MIDI and a better kick drum, implemented in
surface mount, but all analogue - no sampling.  However, I wrote that I
did not want to move to Japan - but would work from Melbourne.

He replied promptly and appreciatively, but declined my proposal because
they needed design work done in Japan, for reasons of prompt action and
responsiveness to their dynamic market. "

Hi Robin, great story!
It is fascinating to contemplate what Roland may have developed from  
your designs. I wonder how much resistance you would have got to the  
idea of making it all analogue.?
Roland have never yet re-visited that technology, as far as I know.


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