Monday, April 16, 2012

The Kurzweil Music Story

Everyone knows Ray Kurzweil as one of the world's most respected futurists, but he also played a huge part in the music business as well. 30 years ago Ray (with the help of Stevie Wonder, Bob Moog and Alan R. Pearlman from ARP) came up with a then groundbreaking instrument in the K250, one of the very first electronic keyboards to have a weighted keyboard with action similar to a real piano, as well as a sound that was closer to one than ever before.

The K250 was indeed groundbreaking. Not only was it the first easily portable instrument that employed computer architecture to achieved its sounds, but it was also one of the first with a SCSI interface enabling the user to add external hard drives to store the sounds (a very big deal at the time). It also had one of the first samplers, available as an option, that had a sample rate that went up to 50kHz.

As we jump forward 30 years, Kurzweil Music Systems is still one of the leaders in high quality electronic keyboards while so many other computer based music systems (like Synclavier and Fairlight) have fallen by the wayside.

Here's a great video on how Ray went from creating systems for the blind to the MI business. Note some of the vintage segments of some really old audio gear.



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