Pink Floyd, the BBC (Hitchhikers’ Guide and Doctor Who), and Tangerine Dream all used the original. Now the Synthi A gets a free homage in your Web browser.

Synthi-JS, the JavaScript Synthi, is a pretty nice place to start learning about synthesizers. You get all the basics – oscillators, filters, modulation – and a powerful matrix for routing signal, looking for all the world like the gameboard from Battleship. (The original even used pegs, as in – “you sunk my bass line!”)

There’s an interactive scope for seeing what you’re doing, and loads of onscreen controls. You can even load audio files. The developer put in some nice extras, too, like letting you choose which kind of interaction you want when you mouse over knobs (“turning” them radially or sliding vertically). You can store presets, since this is a computer and not vintage hardware. And you can generally play around.

It’s all open source, so for instance, if someone wanted to port this to a different platform or add Web MIDI, you could. (It’d be great if there were a framework for turning JavaScript into VSTs or apps, if anyone has ideas about that.)

Here’s the original, as depicted in my favorite music gear ad of all time. (It has everything I love – bad puns and monastic seclusion with electronic sound.)

More / try it:

Source code: