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Programmer

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  1. An accessory device which contains most or all of the controls needed for patch editing on a particular synth, and usually packaged in a tabletop format. Such a device may be offered for a synth which has a cumbersome user interface for patch editing, such as the Yamaha DX-7, or in the case of synths which have no built-in editing controls at all. (Notable examples include the Roland JX3P and the Oberheim Matrix-1000.) Older examples usually use custom interfaces, while more recent ones use the instrument's MIDI interface. An early example was the programmer incorporated in the Oberheim Four Voice; it integrated the control of the four SEM modules which made up the synth's voices. Roland offered a line of programmers, the PG series, for several of its '80s synth models which had one-knob interfaces, or no built-in patch editing controls due to packaging limitations (e.g, the GR-700 guitar synthesizer which was packaged in the form of a large foot-pedal box). Others have come from third party manufacturers, such as the noted Jellinghaus programmer (with over 200 controls!) for the DX-7. Access Music got its start in the synth industry building a programmer for the Matrix-1000, before turning its attention to its own Virus synth.
  2. A device which programs or "burns" data into EPROM or flash memory devices. Such devices are pretty much confined to the DIY community now. However, EPROMs were heavily used for sample storage in 1980s-era drum machines, and both E-mu Systems and Oberheim offered simplified EPROM programmers which allowed users of their drum machines to make EPROMs with their own samples.

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