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Fairlight CMI

Also known as the “Computer Musical Instrument,” this was the very first keyboard-based, 8-bit digital sampler, with software sequencing and additive synthesis capabilities. Making its debut in 1980 with eight voices (split either polyphonically or multitimbrally), the CMI could store a total of 1Mb of sample data per double-sided, double-density 8-inch floppy disk, or roughly 40 wavesamples. In all, only about 300 Fairlight CMIs (along with the Series II and Series IIx) were manufactured from 1980 to 1984 at prices that ranged from $25,000 to $36,000. Most were sold to the top artists of the day who could actually afford them, including Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Jan Hammer, and Thomas Dolby.

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