Sometime, in the early 80s:
- Wait. What ? You built a sampling machine out of an Apple II ?
- The way I see it, If you’re gonna build a sampling machine, why not do it with some style ?…
The Apple II was, and still is, the most stylish 8 bit machine of the era, ex equo with the TRS-80 Model III and the Commodore 64 breadbin edition. OK. It’s no De Lorean. But still, being able to make music and record an album out of an Apple II is one sexy idea. But I digress…
I knew nothing about the Greengate DS:3 until last summer. While researching another project, I stumbled upon this. So, here’s the thing.
While researching this project, I learned about another band that did the same thing around the same time: Mainframe. They were really creative, already using the Apple II computer to programmed Basic graphics and played them live into TVs.
What’s interesting about Mainframe (and their collaborators), is that they were also using the Apple II for an unusual task at the time : sampling.
Around 1983-84, Colin Holtgate and Dave Green created Greengate DS:3 (GreenGate… get it ?) and showed their prototype to the band. Mainframe adopted the machine altogether and decided to go in business with it.
Now, it’s 1983-84. A Fairlight CMI cost +25 000$ and an Emulator (more affordable) cost 6 grand. The Greengate system was around 1200$ (Apple II not included). Not really cheap but, in the early 80’s, for a really good functional 8 bit sampling machine like this, it was a steal !
I’m very impressed with what I found online. Mainframe used it a lot on their albums and it sounds really great. They had big ambitions for the DS:3 and I understand why. Had they found a way to make the system compatible with other computers’ architectures, they would have ran a lot more with it.
Unfortunately, by the time the DS:4 rolled out, AKAI was already in the sampling game and the Apple II was old news…
Greengate closed in 1987.