ARP 2600 (1971)
The 2600 was the second product from Alan R. Pearlman’s ARP Instruments and the first synth to make patch cords optional. He teamed with engineer Dennis Colin to design a portable instrument for schools, and together they created a highly versatile semimodular synth that traveled far beyond the classroom. With three VCOs, a lowpass filter, ADSR and AR envelopes, an envelope follower, ring modulation, spring reverb, and a pair of built-in amplified speakers, the 2600 contains all its signal generating and processing electronics in a single enclosure.
The instrument’s first big break came when Pete Townshend recorded his 2600 extensively on Who Comes Next in 1971. The following year, Edgar Winter showed off his 2600 chops on his hit song “Frankenstein,” and Stevie Wonder demonstrated his on Sesame Street the year after that. Ben Burtt’s 2600 even gave voice to R2D2 in Star Wars. After gracing many hit records and undergoing many cosmetic and functional changes, the 2600 went out of production in 1981. Fortunately, Korg revived this classic instrument earlier this year with the release of their ARP 2600 FS, but only in limited numbers.
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