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Crumar

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An Italian manufacturer of synths and other electronic keyboards, in the 1970s and '80s. In its early days Crumar was noted mainly for its electronic organs which imitated the sound of a Hammond organ; Crumar was one of the first manufacturers other than Hammond itself to try to capture the tone wheel sound with an all-solid-state design. Crumar also produced electronic pianos and string synthesizers during this period. The name is a contraction of the surnames of the two co-founders.

The company introduced its first proper synth in 1978, with the DS-2 model. This was actually a combination of monophonic analog synthesizer with a string synth in one case -- a concept also tried by Korg and ARP in the late '70s. It was notable as one of the first synths to use DCOs. Several other monosynths followed through the late '70s and early '80s, including the Spirit -- a model for which Crumar employed several Moog Music alumni to do the design, including Bob Moog himself. This was followed in 1984 by Crumar's first polyphonic model, the Bit One. Several variations of the Bit One appeared over the next several years.

A significant diversion was the development of the Synergy, an advanced digital synthesizer developed through a U.S. subsidary, Digital Keyboards Inc (DKI). The Synergy (and its extremely rare big brother, the General Development System) was an outgrowth of work done at Bell Labs. Around 1980, Crumar was looking to get involved in the development of digital synthesis and they bought out a New York company called Music Technology, which was attempting to build a commercial version of a digital synth that Hal Alles had built at Bell Labs. Music Technology changed its name to DKI and become a branch of Crumar in the U.S., and with Crumar's funding it was able to bring the Synergy to market in 1983.

Like most other synth manufacturers, Crumar's sales were hit hard by Yamaha's introduction of the DX-7 in 1985. Sales of the analog synths and electronic organs which were the company's bread and butter dropped. The Synergy was a far more capable digital synth than the DX-7 was, but it was expensive, and Crumar did not have Yamaha's marketing acumen. DKI had a group working on a design for a sampler, but they ran out of time; just before it was scheduled to be introduced, Crumar declared bankruptcy.

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