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|Founder||Tsutomu Kato and Tadashi Osanai|
|Products||Keyboards, Electronic Organ|
Company historyFounded in 1962 in Japan by Tsutomu Kato and Tadashi Osanai, Korg was originally known as Keio Electronic Laboratories (京王技術研究所) because its fledgling offices were located near the Keio train line in Tokyo and Keio can be formed by combining the first letters of Kato and Osanai. Before founding the company, Kato ran a nightclub. Osanai, a Tokyo University graduate and noted accordionist, regularly performed at Kato's club accompanied by a Wurlitzer Sideman rhythm machine. Unsatisfied with the rhythm machine, Osanai convinced Kato to finance his efforts to build a better one.The company's first product, released in 1963, was an electro-mechanical rhythm device called the Disc Rotary Electric Auto Rhythm machine Donca matic DA-20. Buoyed by the success of the DA-20, Keio released a solid-state version of the Rhythm machine, the Donca matic DE-20, in 1966.In 1967, Kato was approached by Fumio Mieda, an engineer who wanted to build keyboards. Impressed with Mieda's enthusiasm, Kato asked him to build a prototype and 18 months later Mieda returned with a programmable organ. Keio sold the organ under the name Korg, made from combining keio with organ.Keio's organ products were successful throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s but, concerned about the competition from other big organ manufacturers, Kato decided to use the organ technology to build a keyboard for the then-niche synthesizer market. Keio's first synthesizer, the MiniKorg, was thus released in 1973.Following on the success of the Mini-Korg, Keio released a number of budget-minded synthesizers throughout the 1970s and 1980s under the name Korg.Korg subsequently branched out into the music recording and electric guitar effects market, with some success.Yamaha Corporation has always been a major partner of Korg, supplying them with circuitry and mechanical parts. In 1987, shortly before the release of the M1 Music Workstation, Yamaha acquired a controlling interest in Korg's stock. The takeover of the company was amicable, with Kato drawing up the terms, and the two companies continued to independently develop their product lines and compete in the marketplace. After the following 5 very successful years, Kato had enough cash to rebuy most of the Yamaha share back in 1993.
Timeline of major products
- 1963 - Donca-Matic DA-20
- 1966 - Donca-Matic DE-20
- 1973 - Korg Mini-Korg 700
- 1975 - Korg WT-10: World's first hand-held electronic tuner
- 1975 - Korg Maxi-Korg 800DV
- 1977 - Korg PS-3100, PS-3200, PS-3300
- 1978 - Korg MS-10/MS-20
- 1978 - Korg VC-10 Vocoder
- 1979 - Korg m500 Micro Preset
- 1980 - Korg Mono/Poly
- 1981 - Korg Polysix
- 1983 - Korg Poly-61: The successor of the Polysix with digitally-controlled analog oscillators; Korg's first "knobless" synthesizer
- 1983 - Korg Poly-800: First fully programmable synthesizer that sold for less than $1000, notable for using digitally-controlled analog oscillators and sharing a single filter for all 8 voices
- 1983 - Korg SAS-20: The SAS-20 was Korg’s first arranger keyboard. A built-in computer analyzed the melody played on the keyboard, and generated a complex accompaniment. This was the world’s first auto-accompaniment function of this kind added to a keyboard. Also, a more traditional chord recognition system was included.
- 1985 - Korg DW-8000: 8-voice polyphonic, user selected two digital waveforms out of 16 total. Used an analog filter.
- 1985 - SuperDrums and SuperPercussion: Low-cost digital drum machines
- 1986 - Korg DSS-1: Sampling keyboard with additive synthesis, waveform drawing and effects, with some similarities to the DW8000
- 1988 - Korg M1: PCM rompler with built-in effects and sequencer, the M1 introduced many to the concept of a Music Workstation, a keyboard that could handle live performance, MIDI, sequencing, expandable sound banks, effects, and more in a single package.
- 1989 - Korg T series (T1/T2/T3): Some improvements over the M1 with added features.
- 1990 - Korg Wavestation: Vector synthesis and Wave Sequencing
- 1991 - Korg O1/W: PCM rompler with more waveforms and effects than the M1
- 1991 - Korg Wavestation EX
- 1991 - Korg Wavestation A/D
- 1992 - Korg Wavestation SR
- 1993 - Korg X3 / Korg X2 / Korg X3R: Music Workstation
- 1993 - Korg i3 Interactive Music Workstation: Korg introduced its first professional arranger in 1993 with the i3 model, which proved to be the first in a huge series of Korg 'interactive' products. Until that time the auto-accompaniment keyboards were designed primarily for home use, but i3 changed that. Its tone generator was an AI2 engine coming from the renowned Korg synths, which made it a perfectly usable 'pro' keyboard. Once again, a Korg keyboard succeeded because of the quality of its factory voicing. It also retained a multitrack MIDI sequencer, Styles and Arrangements that allowed players to use it as a band-in-a-box or compositional tool, improved chord recognition with a big graphical display, a joystick and analog volume controls for each accompaniment section. A new Backing Sequence feature provided also for easy creation of new songs based on styles.
- 1994 - Korg X5
- 1994 - Korg i2: Korg introduced the i2, an i3 "on-steroids" with a 76-note keyboard and a new Piano sound.
- 1995 - Korg i1: In 1995 a further improved version of i3 was introduced: the Korg i1, that included an 88-note weighted keyboard, a huge piano sample, and built-in speakers. Other features were similar to the i3, even if new styles were added.
- 1995 - Korg i4S: The i4S (where "S" stays for "Speakers"). This keyboard was something like an i3 with speakers, but with a smaller feature set.
- 1995 - Korg i5S: The i5S was a scaled-down version of the i4S, with a plastic chassis and a reduced set of features. Some new sounds and styles were added.
- 1995 - Korg i5M: A module called i5M was a