Author Topic: history of korg  (Read 2657 times)

Offline chrisNova777

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history of korg
« on: November 06, 2015, 01:26:19 PM »

When the history of electronic keyboards and synthesis is written, a handful of names will feature prominently. Laurens Hammond, for example, whose electromechanical organs dominated the 1940s and 1950s, and Robert Moog, who made synthesis recognisable and acceptable in the 1960s and early '70s. Next came Alan Pearlman of ARP, Tom Oberheim, Dave Rossum of Emu, and Dave Smith of Sequential Circuits, whose microprocessor-controlled Prophets introduced fully programmable polyphonic synthesis.

As the electronic music industry became more commercial in the '80s, the role of the eccentric developer slipped away, to be replaced by the R&D divisions of the music corporations. Foremost of these were Yamaha, who, from 1983 onwards, produced digital FM keyboards at such a rate and price that they precipitated the demise of many existing synth companies. Then, in 1987, the Roland D50 reinvented synthesis in the shape of S&S (sample & synthesis) technology. But Roland's reign lasted barely a year before something remarkable happened.

The people behind Korg were probably unaware that, in launching the M1, they were setting out on a path that would keep the company at the forefront of its field for the next 15 years. What's more, far from being a huge corporation, Korg were the creation of just a handful of men... not so far divorced from the entrepreneurs of the '60s and '70s. In fact, these men were the entrepreneurs of the '60s and '70s; their first product predated the Minimoog and the first ARPs by nearly a decade. So, when our descendents read the history of music technology, two names will appear prominently. The first is that of Tsutomu Katoh (pronounced 'Car-toe') and the second is that of his company, Keio Electronic, now renamed Korg. This is the story of the man, the company and, in particular, the products that have made them famous.

In the 1980s and early '90s, with Yamaha's help, Korg expanded dramatically, producing some of the first affordable digital recorders and physical-modelling instruments. But it was their world-class synths, such as the M1 and Wavestation, that made them the company they are today...

Gordon Reid

At the end of last month's article, we left Keio Electronic in a strange position. By the mid-'80s, they had carved a significant niche for themselves, and won the respect of keyboard players everywhere, without ever becoming a market leader. A handful of products — most notably the PolySix and Poly 800 — had sold well, but it wasn't likely that you'd see these on Top Of The Pops or on stage at Reading Festival. What's more, the company had not attained permanent financial stability, and its proprietor, Tsutomu Katoh, had injected his own money as development capital on numerous occasions.

So in 1985, Katoh embarked upon a series of strategies and developments that would see his company rise to become a pivotal player in the synthesizer and keyboard markets. In this, the second of our three-part history of the company now known as Korg, we chart the evolution of some of the most successful electronic products ever to grace the stage or studio.