Was the Polymoog really a failure and what brought about its demise? Despite the limitations of its compromised filter
articulation, the Polymoog actually did rather well for Norlin.
At the time of its initial release, the famous names that
bought, (or were given) Polymoog's reads like a "who's
who" of the prominent jazz and pomp rock keyboardists
of the day. Toward the end of its production, around the time
the 280a was released, it enjoyed a renaissance when it was
later adopted by "New Wave" artists such as Blondie,
Devo and Gary Numan.
1976 and 1980 approximately 3,000* Model 203a and 800* Model
280a Polymoog's were produced, (this website is currently
attempting to trace all remaining examples and their owners).
So in terms of units, the Polymoog wasn't a failure and nor,
(as has even been suggested) did it bring about the collapse
of Moog Music (Norlin). Far from it! Polymoog sales helped
finance the development of many future Moog's such as the
Multimoog, Prodigy, Liberation, Rogue, Source and the Memorymoog.
An informed estimate.
really caused the Polymoog to go out of production was that
five years is a very long time in the synthesizer business.
In that time it would be inevitable that the competition would
come up with something twice as good and at half the price
and that is exactly what happened! Certainly not half the
price and more than four times the weight, the Yamaha CS-80
was everything the Polymoog had aspired to but coming two
years later it benefited from increased technological advancement.
There was no doubt, it sounded fantastic, it was only eight
voice polyphonic but each voice had two independent synthesiser
sections. It was still temperamental and would produce enough
heat to melt the polar ice-caps but it was new and it was
better. It became the new "must have" and like any
fashion statement, the keyboard elite wanted one now! The
CS-80 had an even shorter run of success (only three years)
as it was killed off by the emergence of one of the greatest
polysynths ever made… Sequential's Prophet 5! The Pro-5
was truly a technological revolution. Once again, when it
was first rushed out to an eager public, it was prone to breakdown
at a moments notice and the oscillators wouldn't hold pitch
for longer than five minutes without a re-tune but we've heard
this story already... as with the Polymoog, it was released
too soon but the problems were ironed out eventually, one
Rev after another.