by Robin Vincent | Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes
Roland 50th Anniversary

Roland 50th Anniversary  ·  Source: Roland

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Roland takes us through the history of musical invention with an interactive website, anniversary editions and hints of new products.

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Happy Anniversary!

The Roland Corporation was founded in Osaka Japan in 1972 and since then has designed and built some of the most iconic electronic musical instruments on the planet. From the early TR drum machines, through Space Echoes, organs and guitar amps to the System-700 modular synthesizer of 1976 and the VP-330 Vocoder of 1979.

Roland 1972

Roland 1972

The 1980s gave us the TR-808 drum machine, Jupiter-8 analog polysynth and Juno-106. Roland developed guitar synths, rhythm composers and electronic drum kits, the Boss pedal range expanded and they ended the decade out with samplers, Linear Arithmetic Synthesis and a Computer Music System.

Roland 1981

Roland 1981

Roland hit the ground running in the digital 90s with the huge JD-800 synthesizer and came up with the Sound Canvas and JV-1080 Super JV sound module. While organs, pianos and guitar modelling systems still evolved Roland invented the groovebox and released the VS-880 as the first affordable digital multitrack recorder. Let’s not forget little things like the JP-8000 and the UA-100 USB audio interface that could turn your computer into a studio.

Roland 1994

Roland 1994

The 2000s seemed to take things in different directions with the introduction of the Fantom workstation. But there were still lots of great ideas like the RC-20 Loop Station, VariPhase and COSM technology and the huge MPC style MV-8000 production studio. The SP-404 Phrase Sampler arrived as did some video products, digital mixers and the AX-Synth Keytar.

Roland 2001

Roland 2001

2010 brought in much consolidation with more percussion and drum pad options, stage organs, pianos and the RC-505 Tabletop Loop Station. The Jupiter-80 delighted the synthesizer world up to a point as people were still trying to decide whether the convenience and power of analog modelling could outweigh the desire for analog authenticity.

Roland 2014

Roland 2014

Undeterred Roland pushed on with the alarmingly green AIRA range of modelling synths and drum machines. And then just when the demand for the re-releasing of their classic synths was at its peak Roland introduced the Boutique Series where they recreated their back catalogue of synths in mini modelled hardware boxes. In 2018 along came Roland Cloud featuring every synth and drum machine you could ever dream to own in software form along with the new ZEN-Core technology for modelling hardware in more detail than had ever been done before. Stick it all in the superbly vintage-looking Jupiter-X and you’re away.

We’re at the start of the 2020s and there are plenty of good things to come. While Roland may not give us exactly what we crave they are smart enough to keep on producing innovative products that help us make the best of our music.

Roland 2020

Roland 2020

On Roland’s website, there’s a full timeline that takes you through the key releases of each decade. It’s full of information, photos, music and artists that show off the bewildering array of products that Roland has contributed to the world of electronic music. Or maybe you fancied a wander around the Roland Museum? Here  you go:

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Throughout the year Roland will be sending out stories from the last 50 years including interviews with Roland engineers and the people behind the products. There are also going to be some surprises and commemorative products this year amongst which is something fabulous to be unveiled on the 18th of April, the actual anniversary date.

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2 responses to “Roland celebrates 50 years of building fantastic electronic instruments”

  1. Bob says:

    “SOME” amazing products

  2. iixorb says:

    Didn’t realise Roland is the same age as me ! I thought they went waaaay further back than 1972.

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