The Electronic Music Studios in London, ca 1971. Via Peter Grogono.

The Electronic Music Studios in London, ca 1971. Via Peter Grogono.

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A: London, England, United Kingdom

EMS Produces the First Digital Sampler in the First Digital Music Studio

Circa 1969

"The first digital sampler was the EMS (Electronic Music Studios) Musys system developed by Peter Grogono (software), David Cockerell (hardware and interfacing) and Peter Zinovieff (system design and operation) at their London (Putney) Studio circa 1969. The system ran on two mini-computers, a pair of Digital Equipment’s PDP-8s. These had the tiny memory of 12,000 (12k) bytes, backed up by a hard drive of 32k and by tape storage (DecTape)—all of this absolutely minuscule by today’s standards. Nevertheless, the EMS equipment was used as the world’s first music sampler and the computers were used to control the world's first digital studio" (Wikipedia article on Sampler (musical instrument), with hyperlinks that I added, accessed 08-29-2009).

Explanation of all the equipment in the photograph of the EMS Studio (1971):

"From left to right the equipment is

  • The keyboard for musical analysis, capable of sending data to computers;
  • A Synthi ASK synthesizer;
  • A KSR-33 teletype for the management of the computer (with the chair in front);
  • A first rack (top) with controls filter, an oscilloscope, two tape drives and the DEC PDP-8L;
  • A second rack with a high-frequency oscilloscope, filter checks, bank of potentiometers, frequency meter, a Wavetek oscillator and a 32kB hard drive;
  • A third rack with the controls of amplification, the PDP-8S, some audio devices, a main panel for connections;
  • A fourth rack with digital/analogue controller, including the button panel to interact with the MUSYS software, reverb units;
  • A display and a keyboard to interact with the computer (the one black spot on the top should be a Tannoy loudspeaker);
  • The Synthi 100;
  • A four tracks Ampex with a Dolby noise reduction on top;
  • Another four tracks Ampex without the Dolby noise reduction;
  • The main mixer;
  • A custom device for sound spatialization." (

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