Yamaha DX7  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first commercially successful digital synthesizer, and is one of the bestselling synthesizers in history, selling over 200,000 units.

In the early 1980s, the synthesizer market was dominated by analog synthesizers. Frequency modulation (FM) synthesis, a means of generating sounds digitally with different results, was developed by John Chowning at Stanford University, California. Yamaha licensed the technology to create the DX7, combining it with very-large-scale integration chips to lower manufacturing costs.

With its digital display, complex menus, and lack of conventional controls, few users learnt to program the DX7 in depth. However, its preset sounds became a staple sound of 1980s pop music, used by artists including A-ha, Kenny Loggins, Kool & the Gang, Whitney Houston, Chicago, Phil Collins, Luther Vandross, and Billy Ocean. Its piano sound was particularly widely used, especially in power ballads. The producer Brian Eno mastered the programming and it was instrumental to his work in ambient music. In later years the DX7's sounds came to be seen as dated or cliched, and interest in FM synthesis declined.

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