[sdiy] History of SDIY?

Richard Wentk richard at wentk.com
Wed Jun 6 12:37:28 CEST 2018

Zinovieff at EMS is up there - possibly higher than - Raymond Scott, Buchla, Moog, and Le Caine, because he DIY’d the first private computer music studio in the world.

He had tons of cash from his background and by marriage, and he spent almost all of it on custom hardware and software running on 60s/70s minicomputers. 

Some of the projects were 5-10 years ahead of anything else around at the time. Some are still ahead of a lot of current synth design.

The VCS3 and Synthi 100 were intended to provide an income for the research, and he seems to have drifted into business rather reluctantly. There’s a BBC documentary on YouTube where he describes the VCS3 as a “pathetic little synthesizer” and a Red Bull interview where it’s clear he thinks modular nostalgia is very unimaginative and uninteresting.

When the US distributors stiffed the company and bankrupted EMS, some of his designers - like Tim Orr - had to find work in a hurry. So that’s why there was sudden explosion of magazine articles and kit synth designs in the 70s. IMO it wouldn’t have happened if EMS hadn’t broken the ground.

Anyway - I think of EMS as a unique and very well-funded quirky DIY outfit, and the unacknowledged ancestors of the UK DIY scene, rather than a corporate synth juggernaut in the Roland/Yamaha/Korg/Norlin mould.


> On 6 Jun 2018, at 09:37, Oakley Sound <oakleysound at btinternet.com> wrote:
> Apologies if these three have been mentioned but I don't seem to recall that they have.
> Tim Orr - The DIY Transcendent synths and many articles in the ETI magazine in late 70s early 80s. As well as working for a time for EMS.
> Trevor Marshall - ETI/Maplin synths from 1973
> Charles Blakey - Digisound modular from 1980.
> All three a big inspiration to me here in the UK.
> Tony
> www.oakleysound.com
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