It’s 8/8/08 – so Experimentalists Anonymist has pointed out that it’s 808 day – a day to celebrate one of the two most important drum machines in electronic music, the Roland TR-808 Computer Controlled Rhythm Composer.
The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer was one of the first programmable drum machines. Introduced by the Roland Corporation in late 1980, it was originally manufactured for use as a tool for studio musicians to create demos.
When it was initially introduced, musicians were not generally impressed by its sound; a 1982 Keyboard Magazine review of the Linn Drum indirectly referred to the TR-808 as sounding like marching anteaters.
Like the TB-303, though, the TR-808 found it’s true call when it was accepted on its own merits and it became one of the foundations of electronic dance music.
Here’s an example of the 808 sound:
The TR-808 cost US$1,000 upon its release, and it’s kept it’s value pretty well, with used 808’s going for close to that price.
Here’s a great intro to the Roland 808 from the documentary The Shape Of Things That Hum:
If you need some 808 samples, you can download EA’s free 808 sample pack. (zip)
Update: Tom Whitwell has a nice roundup of 808 links to help you celebrate the day!