A prototype synth developed by PPG in the 1986-1988 timeframe, and most notable for developing the Virtual analog concept. Like the Fairlight CMI, the Realizer was intended to be able to run a variety of different software packages; Additive synthesis and Wave scanning applications were planned. But the one on which PPG did the most work, and drew the most attention, was their Minimoog emulation. Not only did this duplicate the functions of a Minimoog, it also duplicated the panel layout graphically on a monitor, and at the time it created a sensation.
The Realizer actually consisted of several parts: a control desk, where the user interfaced with the system; separate sound processors, and separate hard disk storage units. Several processors and storage units could be incorporated into a Realizer configuration. (The storage units came from an existing PPG product, the Waveterm B.) The most photographed part of the system was the control desk, which contained a computer monitor surrounded on three sides by rows of control knobs; a desk surface below the monitor contained several additional elements such as faders and a large Rotary encoder. The control desk by itself produced no sound; it had to be coupled with at least one sound processor and one storage unit to make a complete system.
In the commonly photographed Minimoog emulation mode, the screen of the control desk contained a (crude) graphical depiction of the Minimoog panel. Images of knobs and switches appeared on the screen, with pointers to show the current values. Each knob or switch image had a ledger line that led to the edge of the screen, where it (hopefully) lined up with a printed graphic line on the panel which led to a physical control. This indicated to the performer which physical control effected which parameter. Presumably other software packages would have graphics depictions of other real or imaginary control panels, with the knobs being assigned to other functions according to the software logic in each package.
PPG ran out of money and folded in 1988. It is commonly believed that the development costs of the Realizer bankrupted them, but this is only partly true. The Realizer was indeed an expensive development, but the company was also done in by financial missteps and some bad luck. Chief among these was a decision to invest in a larger factory to build their Wave model synths. The Wave had been a fairly popular synth, but the opening of the larger factory coincided with a downturn in Wave sales caused by less expensive sampler synths encroaching on some of the Wave's sonic territory. With income declining and expenses going up, PPG decided to close up shop before being driven into bankruptcy.
Two partially completed Realizer prototypes were built. One was offered for sale by Big City Music in 2013; the wherebouts of the other are not known.