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.

Between 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.









What 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.


Shaun Brooks 2005