The Cambridge Centre for Computing History is repeating the succesfull ‘Synthesized’ event. This is a 2 day festival celebrating the computer and synthesizer technology and how these two technologies grew up together.

Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd July 2023

The two technologies have crossed paths many times since the CSIRAC mainframe played the “Colonel Bogey March” in 1951. The mighty Fairlight CMI, the PPG and the humble Dragon 32 both share the same processor – as do the Moog Source, Prophet-5 and the ZX Spectrum.

By 1990, the Atari ST found its way into almost every recording studio. Technologies from the flagship Yamaha DX7 and Roland D-50 found their way into almost every PC sound card of the 1990s. Today, modern computers can emulate almost any classic synthesiser with near perfect accuracy.

Without computers we wouldn’t have FM, wavetable, additive and phase distortion synthesis – or even be able to save the sounds on our analog synthesiser.

Over the years we’ve were lucky enough to have a Fairlight CMI, a PPG Waveterm and a Greengate DS4 together in the same room. We even had Colin Holgate from Greengate and John Molloy from 80s band Mainframe to demonstrate it to us.

This year we hope the event will be even bigger, even better, even noisier and will have more wonderful synthesisers for everyone to see and use! While we’re waiting to confirm exhibitors for this year – and to get you all in the mood – here’s some pictures from the previous events.

We’ll also have demonstrations of the iconic synthesisers and computer music systems of the 80s and 90s, plus some examples of the very latest technologies too. Keep checking back to see what’s happening! 

We’d love you to bring your own synthesisers, music computers, drum machines or anything else you’d think would be of interest.

More info about tickets, exhibitors and much more… on the Cambridge CCH website.

Address: The Centre for Computing History, Rene Court, Coldhams Road, Cambridge, CB1 3EW

Exhibitors for Day one.

Rob Puricelli, Fairlight Enthusiast & Restorer and Music Technology Blogger

Bob Pearson: was the former Sales Director for Cheetah and responsible for originating & developing Cheetah keyboards, synthesizers, samplers and drum machines. 

Liam Fretwell produces music under the moniker ‘equinoxe’, named after his favourite album. His music, heavily inspired by Jean-Michel Jarre, started many years ago written using tracker software on the Commodore 64 and Amiga computers. A lifelong Cubase user, Liam mostly produces music using his expansive hardware synth collection.

Martin Ley (of Twilight Passion) and Colin Holgate (co-founder of Greengate) donated to the museum a Greengate DS:4, probably the only working example in the world.

Tony Jewell will be using the power of MIDI – and the computer we all associate with MIDI sequencing, the Atari ST – to demonstrate the museum’s Greengate DS:4 and that other classic music computer, the Yamaha CX5M.

Chris Strellis: Synth modifier, DIYer, repairer and customer drum sounds maker. Since his first dabbling with synths back in 1985, he has amassed a broad collection of synths, rack synths, samplers and drum machines and is mostly stuck in the 80s.

Shiela Dixon AKA Shirley Knott enjoys making music, collecting and using 8-bit home computers. A desire for a convenient way to make music using the legendary SID chip with easy access to the chip’s myriad of parameters  combined with lifeliong loves of programming and music has resulted in MIDISID: 2 SIDs, 4 push-button rotary encoders, MIDI in and audio out.

Jonathan Pallant will be running a demo of ‘the history of 90s PC sound’ with a Pentium III and a Sound Blaster AWE64. From the beeps and bloops of the PC Speaker, through FM Synthesis to the sample based Wavetable Synthesis, you can hear the incredible changes in PC audio between 1989 to 1999 and try some vintage PC sequencer software and some classic MS-DOS games.

More exhibitors will be added, keep an eye on the Cambridge CCH website.