Years ago (and we’re talking more than a few) my parents finally gave in and bought me the closest thing you could get to a real synthesizer – The Stylophone. Mine was the white one – there was a slightly more advanced model that was black with faux wood trim. The sound was monophonic, and had a warm, “buzzy” quality to it. It was played with a stylus (hence the name) on an etched metal keyboard.
A few years ago they released a “retro” version of the Stylophone, but I’m sorry to say that the tonal quality of the updated version is not the same as the original – almost all the circuit diagrams I can find feature a 555 timer as the source of the square wave oscillations – but if I recall correctly (after opening up my Stylophone many times in 1977) I don’t remember ever seeing an integrated circuit at all.
So this got me to thinking that the original Stylophone was not built on a 555 timer at all, but maybe something like a transistor pair oscillator (flip flop).
I recently uncovered this schematic, that seems to be authentic and does not feature the 555 timer. Additionally if you check out the picture of Brian Davis on this page you can see him holding up the etch mask – I don’t see anything that looks like a socket for a DIP-8 chip. (Schematic came from Sean Kerrigan’s page here)
I’ve been meaning to rebuild a traditional Stylophone for years, over the next few months I’ll have to see about getting it done.
And then there was this:
The Stylophone 350 (“Super Stylophone”) this one was duophonic, and had a bunch of different sounds, *and* the world’s first D-Beam controller – a photocell that could be covered with the hand to modulate the sound further. Very cool.