[vcf-midatlantic] 6503 in PAiA Synth Controller!

Dan Roganti ragooman at gmail.com
Sun Apr 16 19:36:34 EDT 2017

On Sun, Apr 16, 2017 at 12:23 PM, Douglas Crawford via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:

> Music Synthesis led me into microprocessors in the late 70s.
> Around the time I built an Elf for synth control (an unrealized dream
> eclipsed by college then by the C64 then by Midi )
> I was buying bits and pieces from PAiA and inspired by their designer
> John Simonton and contributor Craig Anderton.
> At that time they were offering a microprocessor controller add-on, very
> much like a trainer, for their modular synth rigs and selling bits of
> software for doing effects and controlling keyboards actions like
> portamento and the like.
> My recollection was that these were 6800 systems just like on the
> small cardboard boxed Heathkit 6800 trainer. My recollection was off.
> I just ran across 1978 PAiA catalog to find it was a 6502 variant
> with membrane keys instead of switches.
> http://rtellason.com/catalogs/PAIA-1978.pdf
> The controller is on the cover page and detailed on page 11.
> The whole catalog is a hoot of hobby electronic music equipment
> of the era.
> A short article on PAiA is here for orientation of folks not
> familiar with PAiA.
> https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=PAiA%20Electronics&
> item_type=topic

​I followed the PAIA equipment closely back then too. But I could never
afford to build a complete synthesizer from them. The only thing I have
from them still is the little Gnome synthesizer. Instead I would duplicate
their patchbay style of modules with my homebrew project using the 76477
sound generator. The name TI gave it was kind of disingenuous because it
was a complete synthesizer albeit a very small one. But once I added all of
the controls, switches, Leds, etc and grouped them into the various
functions, VCO, LFO, VCA, etc, it all fit on a single console panel, it
looked just any of those PAIA synths but without the patch cables and no
keyboard. Then by the time the end of the 70s came around, and our school
bought one of the first synths, ARP Odyssey, I became hooked on them. After
countless hours with painting jobs, sweating in a Chinese takeout shop, I
bought the 3rd generation ARP Odyssey in 1979, the one with the pressure
sensitive pitch pads.the year after that I found a used Roland SH-5,
another analog synth, in the back of the music store that I just couldn't
pass up, it was a gem - highly sought after this day just like the ARP
Odyssey. As the saying goes, that was just the start.....every couple years
something else was interesting and had to have. By the mid-80s, having to
change jobs and move, I gave them all away to one of my best friends in
another band.
​Dan ​

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