Fairlight CMI Series III

In the 1970s, synthesizer devotee Kim Ryrie initiated the idea to develop a build-it-yourself analogue synthesizer called the ETI 4600 for his family’s magazine Electronics Today International. The detailed design was developed by ETI’s Barty Wilkinson and Trevor Marshall but Ryrie was frustrated with the limited number of sounds that could be made with an analogue synth.[7] After his classmate, Peter Vogel, graduated from high school and a brief stint at university in 1975, Ryrie asked Vogel if he would be interested in making “the world’s greatest synthesiser” based on the recently announced Microprocessor. He recalled: “We had long been interested in computers – I built my first computer when I was about 12 – and it was obvious to me that combining digital technology with music synthesis was the way to go.”[8] In December of that year, he and Vogel formed a house-based company intended to manufacture digital synthesizers.[7] It was called Fairlight, which the name came from the hydrofoil ferry passing before Ryrie’s grandmother’s home in Sydney harbour.[7] The two planned to design a machine which would do what would now be considered physical modelling synthesis, or acoustic modeling, a digital synthesizer that could create sounds reminiscent of acoustic instruments.[7] They had initially thought of making an analogue synth that was digitally controlled, given that the Moog was much more difficult to control.[9]

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