MATRIXSYNTH: RIP Alan R. Pearlman

Sunday, January 06, 2019

RIP Alan R. Pearlman



It has come to my attention that ARP founder Alan R. Pearlman has passed way. He was 90 years old at the time of the NAMM TEC Awards in 2015. The ARP 2600 SYNTHESIZER received the award that year. You can find a video from the event featuring Pat Gleeson and Jim Heintz of WayOutWare, who worked with Alan on their ARP emulations, below. Alan was no longer traveling at the time and was not at the event.

You can find a great video interview with Alan R. Pearlman from 2006 at the NAMM website here. The following is an interesting excerpt from the site: "Alan R. Pearlman was nicknamed 'ARP' as a kid growing up in New York City, so it seemed the perfect name for a company when he was later designing electronic musical instruments. The first instrument created by Alan was the modular synthesizer known as the ARP 2500. The monophonic product was released years after the first Moog and Buchla instruments, but gained attention for several new features including the ever-popular function of not drifting out of tune, which was a common problem in the earlier products. Next came the now classic ARP 2600, and soon the company became a great leader in the growth and development of the electronic musical market."

And via Wikipedia:

"Pearlman was born in New York City in 1925. His father was a movie theatre projector designer and his grandfather made parts for phonograph machines. He grew up building radio sets, inspired by Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines, and served in the military briefly following World War II.

Following his military service, Pearlman attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts and in 1948, for his senior thesis designed a vacuum tube envelope follower that could extract the envelope of a sound from an instrument. He later audited a Harvard University course taught by one of the inventors of the transistor, Walter Brattain.[1]

Pearlman spent five years designing amplifiers for NASA's Gemini and Apollo programs. He worked at George A. Philbrick Researchers with Roger Noble, and the two later founded analog module and op amp manufacturer Nexus Research Laboratory in Canton, Massachusetts in the early 1960s. Nexus Research Laboratory's business grew to $4 million in annual sales before being acquired by Teledyne in 1966.[2][3]

In 1969, Pearlman founded ARP Instruments, Inc. (originally Tonus, Inc.) with $100,000 of his own money and matching funds from a small group of investors. The name ARP was derived from Pearlman's initials. ARP entered the fledgling synthesizer industry with the introduction of the ARP 2002, which with twice as many switch rows on top, became the 2500 analog modular synthesizer. The 2002 was introduced at the AES show in Fall 1970, and subsequently competed head to head with other leading synthesizer companies of the time. Pearlman eschewed patch cord methodology for interconnecting synthesizer modules, designing instead a system of sliding matrix switches. He also applied his op-amp experience by utilizing dual transistors on a single integrated circuit to overcome temperature gradients and provide very stable oscillators - more stable than other popular synthesizers on the market at the time, namely offerings from Moog Music and Buchla.[4][5]"


ARP 2600 Synthesizer Award Show w/ Dr Pat Gleeson & Jim Heintz NAMM TEC Awards 2015

Published on Feb 3, 2015 Byron Hotchkiss

"ARP 2600 SYNTHESIZER receives NAMM TECH Award at 2015 show. Speakers Dr. Pat Gleeson and Jim Heintz of WayOutWare recall stories of the ARP 2600 instrument. Quotes from Pete Townsend, Alan R. Pearlman (ARP name taken from inventors nickname as a youth) Video by B K Hotchkiss"



Note it is extremely difficult to pick videos for a RIP post especially considering how many great videos there are out there and how many have been already featured on the site as you can see via the ARP label. I'll be searching for some not previously featured to put up in individual posts throughout the day. If you have any you'd like to share please do so in the comments. I wanted to share the following as it features Alan R. Pearlman's first iconic synth, the ARP 2500.


A Portrait of Eliane Radigue (2009) from Maxime Guitton on Vimeo.

"A portrait of Eliane Radigue, produced by the Austrian IMA (Institute for Media Archeology), which observes Eliane in her workspace, operating the ARP and talking about the process of composing and recording."



Featuring ARP engineer Philip R Dodds who passed away in 2007.

Update: found this ARP 2500 playlist on YouTube:

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