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Drum Machine History | Podcast

Oli Freke Tells The Story By Oli Freke
Published May 2024
Oli Freke, Electronic Musician and Author

The drum machine has progressed massively since the days of the home organ player. Here Oli Freke takes us through a brief history with lots of audio examples, highlighting the most iconic models to have been released during the last 60 years and the part they have played in shaping musical trends.

Show Notes


00:00 - Introduction
00:51 - Early Rhythm Machines
02:57 - The First Korg Rhythm Machine
04:03 - The Invention Of The Transistor
08:02 - Solid State Rhythm Machines
13:48 - Using Drum Machines In Mainstream Hits
17:05 - The First Programmable Drum Machines
21:59 - The Introduction Of Drum Pads And Brains
25:27 - The Arrival Of Digital Samples And The Linn Drum
30:59 - The Era Of Sampling Drum Machines
37:11 - The Impact Of The Roland TR-808 and TR-909
42:54 - Other Notable 80s Drum Machines
44:41 - The Introduction Of MIDI
46:51 - Standardised Layouts And Spec
50:12 - Analogue Circuit Modelling And Software
53:45 - Back To Hardware With Eurorack Modular
54:52 - Drum Pattern Generation With AI

Oli Freke - Biog

Oli Freke is a London-based musician, artist and author who has had a life-long passion for electronic instruments, synthesizers and electronic music. Currently working for the BBC, he has previously enjoyed success with electro band Cassette Electrik supporting the Human League on tour, written music for television and produced dance music since the 1990s.

His Synth Evolution range of posters, celebrating the synthesizer and electronic music culture, launched in 2017 and led to the definitive, hand-illustrated book, Synth Evolution: From Analogue to Digital (and Back), featuring every commercial synth of the 20th century.

Credits and Links

1. Chamberlin Rhythmate - (@Drum Machine)
2. Wurlitzer Sideman - Internet Archive (
3. Korg Doncamatic - Korg (Germany)
4. Korg Minipops 3 - Corsynth Modular (
5. Ace Tone F-1 - @YouAreTheRobots
6. Roland TR-77 - @vintageaudioinstitute
7. Mattel Bee Gees Rhythm Machine - Thomas P. Heckmann (
8. Maestro MRK-2 - @organ61 
9. Korg KR-55 - Steve Porter (
10. Roland CR-78 - AnalogAudio (
11. Eko CompuRhythm - Hainbach (
12. Paia Programmable Drumset - Thomas P. Heckmann (
13. Boss DR-55 - Leonard de Leonard (
14. Movement Computer System - @Theccrstudio
15. Pollard Syndrum - recording: Joe Bataan, ‘Rap-O, Clap-O’
16. Simmons SDS-V - Alain Levesque
17. Linn LM-1 - John Diligio (@javd007)
18. LinnDrum - @zibbybone
19. Sequential Circuits DrumTraks - AnalogAudio (
20. E-Mu Drumulator - @synthmania
21. E-MU SP-12 - AnalogAudio (
22. Oberheim DMX - @synthmania
23. Roland TR-909 - @DoctorMix
24. Roland TR-707 - AnalogAudio (
25. Yamaha RX-11, Casio RZ-1 - @synthmania

About the Electronic Music podcast channel

On this channel we feature some of the pioneers of the industry, interview musicians and talk about retro and current gear.

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