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date: 14 October 2019

Oberheim, Thomas Elroy locked

  • Hugh Davies
  • , revised by Kyle Devine


(b Manhattan, KS, July 7, 1936). American designer of electronic instruments. His name is primarily associated with the range of synthesizers designed by him and manufactured since 1974 by Oberheim Electronics in California. While working as an electronics engineer for a small computer company in the late 1960s, Oberheim was asked to construct a ring modulator, and the success of the original device (on the soundtrack of 1970s Beneath the Planet of the Apes and among jazz keyboardists) led to requests for others. In 1971 Maestro marketed both Oberheim’s ring modulator and his phase shifter; Oberheim Electronics was set up in connection with their production.

In 1973, when he was an agent for ARP synthesizers, Oberheim devised a digital sequencer (DS-2), and the following year his company developed the Synthesizer Expander Module (SEM), a small monophonic synthesizer with two oscillators. The SEM had no keyboard control and was designed not as a standalone unit but, rather, as a tone generator that could work alongside the DS-2 or existing synthesizers like the ARP 2600 and Minimoog....

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High Fidelity/Musical America Edition