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June 2017 Giveaway

Vako Orchestron

In 1975, ex-Moog executive David Van Koevering was planning to make the Mellotron obsolete with the introduction of the Vako Orchestron. Orchestral strings, brass, and other acoustic instruments were recorded using laser-optical encoding technology, somewhat akin to an analog CD, and then read as variations by a concentrated beam of light. This was actually the same technology used in the low-end consumer product, the Optigon, but on a grander scale. Orchestrons ranged from the single-manual version priced at $2,495, all the way up to a monster 4-manual, pedal-equipped, top-of-the-line model. The 33-1/3 LP phonograph-sized disks, which were read by a large, remote scanner, cost $110 each, and the scanners in the largest systems could read up to three disks at once. A million dollars and about 1,000 Orchestrons later, the company ran out of both money and steam.

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