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Roland is a company which has been defined by beautiful engineering and happy accidents. Founded in Osaka in 1972, the company quickly made an impact with its carefully-designed products. The primary reason for this was the expertise of Ikutaro Kakehashi, the company founder, who had spent the previous 12 years releasing countless electronic instruments, amplifiers and effects under the name Ace Tone.

One early success was the RE-201, released in 1974. Commonly referred to as the 'Space Echo', this lush delay/reverb unit has spawned countless clones, and is coveted to this day for its dark, organic repeats. It wasn't until the early '80s however, that Roland would release its three most influential products. In 1980, the company dropped the TR-808 Rhythm Composer, a programmable drum machine utilising analogue synthesis. A commercial failure, it would go on to define the 'futuristic' sound of the then-nascent hip-hop genre.

The TB-303 Bass Line and TR-909 Rhythm Composer followed in 1981 and 1983, respectively. Again, the initial releases flopped, as neither unit did a great job of replicating acoustic instruments. What they did do was inspire an entire generation of house, techno and acid producers with their unique sounds. In fact, acid house simply wouldn't exist without the TB-303's iconic 'squelchy' tone.

Musician playing Roland keyboard
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