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Korg

Korg was founded in 1962 by Tsutomu Kato and Tadashi Osanai as Keio (the company had offices in Tokyo near the Keio train line). Osanai was an accordionist, and had often played at the nightclub which Kato had run. Not happy with the Wurlitzer Sideman rhythm machine he used as accompaniment, Osanai persuaded Kato to help him build a better one.

The Disc Rotary Electric Auto Rhythm machine, AKA the Donca Matic DA-20, was released in 1963 -- the pair chose the name "Donca" because that was the sound it made. The company branched into organs in 1972 with the Korg KORGUE, then synthesizers a year later with the miniKORG 700. In 1978 the company released the semi-modular MS-10, and it's larger (and significantly more famous) sibling, the MS-20.

These days, Korg produces an impressive range of keyboards, synthesizers and drum machines. The microKORG, released in 2002, is a virtual analogue synthesizer/vocoder and one of the best-selling synths of all time. Even more ubiquitous, however, is the Volca series. This line of paperback-sized electronic instruments began life in 2013, and have since set the standard for how much power, playability and sound quality can be engineered into a portable device.

Photo credit: Kyle Smith

Musician on stage playing Kork keyboard.

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