Back in the early 1980s, high-tech music gear was really, really expensive. A Fairlight CMI sampler cost $25,000+. A
Linn Drum machine cost $5,000. Even the Greengate DS3, a primitive sampler that interfaced with an Apple II cost well
But by 1985, in Britain, anyone with a £125 ZX Spectrum could buy a SpecDrum, a black box which turned the rubber-keyed home computer (owned by the kids whose parents couldn't afford a Commodore 64) into a drum machine pumping out 8 bit samples that were loaded from cassette.
The SpecDrum sounded like a lofi Linn Drum, and had an interface like the Fairlight's 'Page R' sequencer, which had inspired all those terrible white-boy funk records by people like Thomas Dolby. Even allowing for inflation, it was an incredible bargain for £29.
It?s built into some Spectrum emulators (like Spectaculator) and was last week randomly rediscovered by the Analog Industries blog, which prompted a storm of beat-making, sample editing and archive digging. Even cooler than the SpecDrum was the RAM Music Machine, which did even more Fairlight-style stuff (onscreen wave editing). But coolest of all was the Moog Song Creator ? an elaborate MIDI interface for the C64, with a huge Moog logo across the front. Happy days.