$26,000 at the time, the Fairlight CMI was the commercial product that really launched the notion of computer as musical instrument to the general populous – along with various electronic cliches in its wildly-popular preset bank. Our friend James at Retro Thing alerts us to the fact that none other than Fairlight co-founder and co-designer Peter Vogel has been uploading vintage videos to YouTube. There’s a behind-the-scenes tour of the Fairlight factory, circa 1984, and below, a demonstration of the Series III instrument by Greg Sneddon:

There’s also this charming 1980 appearance on "This Week" on Australian TV.

What about making music with computers?

"No, no — you don’t feel like a technician."

Curious that we still have to answer that question today.

Dig the groovy imagery at the end. (around 5:00 in).

  • Joe Bicker

    It's amazing to look back at the introduction of technology we now take for granted. It's also strange how I can now do just what they did, with better sounds, on a machine that literally fits in my pocket! (Eeepc)

    The best bit in the second video is the presenter at the end.

    "What an amazing machine."

    Such enthusiasm!

  • wax

    that first video… NNXT from Reason! lol

  • def oscar worthy credits.

  • MonksDream

    Wow! That takes me back to my first exposure to samplers (Fairlight, Synclavier, Mirage) in the early 80's.

    Two things strike me:

    – how little the systems have changed in the last 25 or so years. Hell, they even take up roughly the same amount of space

    – how much better the pen is than the mouse as an input device

    Thanks Peter!

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  • "I wonder what Steinway would think of his piano NOW!"

    That's the kind of comment that gave the 80s a bad name.

    BTW, I had a pair of white pants once. The first time you sit down, they're ruined. That's why they don't make white pants anymore.