The Philips PMC 100 Portable Synthesizer

This video demonstrates the Philips PMC 100 Portable Synthesizer – a Dutch microcomposer/walkman made in the year 1988.

Nightwaves describes the Philips PMC 100 Portable Synthesizer like this:

It has some very thin, laughable beats. There are 100 voices, but to my ears they all sound the same. It’s FM synthesis, which I was never a big fan of, and to my ears many of the sounds are the same.

There is a built in tape deck so you can record your compositions. There are no actual keys, just pressure sensitive “pads”. There are different accompaniment styles, much like those offered by many of the Casio home keyboards of the time. You can also do different things to your compositions such as pitch shift. It runs on 9V DC power, either through adapter or AA batteries.

From what I understand, this thing was a flop in terms of sales, and after listening to it I can understand why. Even by mid 80s standards, this thing is comical. However, it is still a great curio to add to the collection if you are the least bit interested in archaic synth technology. Plus, I’ve used it as a “sling on” keyboard at some of my live gigs, which has gotten some very surprised looks.

via fuckingharpsichord

6 thoughts on “The Philips PMC 100 Portable Synthesizer

  1. The PMC-100 Composer was based on a music cartridge for MSX home computers that sold for 70 pounds in the UK. I proposed that we could build a complete stand alone unit using the same FM synthesis that was found in Yamaha keyboards (chip sourced from Yamaha) and sell it for less than 100 pounds. The idea was to make it a portable, personal device with built in recording walkman for the young teenager market. The electronic and sofware design came out of the UK, the industrial design was by Philips and we got it manufactured in China. As far as I know, it was the first personal recording synth workstation and was expandable through software supplied on compact cassettes. A full range of devices was developed at the time. Fifty thousand units were produced and sold before the programme was stopped mainly due to the closure (for other reasons) of the Philips BU that was responsible. Of course the sounds are not high quality but the ability to create multi-track compositions and record them together with your voice at this price level was remarkable for its time.

    1. Does anyone know if its possible to find a english manual for this qute composer. Im currently figuring things out as it comes but would be much more convinient to have the manual!

      Please share!


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