MATRIXSYNTH: A History of by Creator Roger Arrick Himself

Monday, September 11, 2023

A History of by Creator Roger Arrick Himself

Roger Arrick, the founder of, wrote a history of his business. It's a fascinating look at the inception of one of the first modular makers of the new gaurd. You can find the full the full article on his website here. The following are just a few excerpts. I included an interesting bit on an almost stolen system.

"The '70s were a great time of learning many things but I leaned towards digital electronics and built a CPU with TTL chips. Around 1978 I built a CP/M computer with 8" drives and connected it to pieces of a PAIA synthesizer kit. Parts of it still exist. Stuff was so expensive back then - memory was $100 per K! I was doing terrible in school due to being focused on computer hardware and software. In English class I wrote a music interpreter in 8080 ASM and the first song was one from the Switched-On-Bach album. At this time analog design was still a mystery. A couple of us would skip school after lunch and drive all the way to Arnold and Morgan music in Garland to venture to the small room in the back to play the Oberheims, ARPS and Mellotrons. Of course, all of these machines were financially completely out of reach."

"Somewhere around 1996 I started getting a hankering to build synths again. It didn't take much time to get re-acquainted since a VCO was still a VCO. Quickly it seemed like there could be an unfilled need in the market. I was in a good position to build modular synthesizers because I had an electronics manufacturing business, and it was a small market that the big boys didn't want to play in. Also, this new era of inexpensive internet marketing eliminated the need for expensive magazine ads. Basically, a perfect storm."

"Driven by my pitiful experience with the unreachable nature of expensive modular synthesizers, my primary goal immediately became clear - create a modular synthesizer in the majestic style of vintage Moog systems but economically accessible to as many people as possible, including ME! Even at that time I had still never seen a Moog modular system in person. I was certain this could be done with my experience in electronics manufacturing accumulated over the prior 20 years. I remember telling Margo: 'I'm going to build synthesizers and sell them' -- blank stare."

"Sale to James 2018

James Allen is a graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler's Engineering program and an employee for several years. He did everything from assembly to purchasing, built test fixtures, made drawings, fixed the AC and so much more. James is the kind of guy who can do anything including reading my mind when it's necessary, and that's every business-owner's dream. We talked about the sale for around a year and after many months of hard work James worked out all the details. James was uniquely capable of running the business and my confidence was very high he could do better than other options that had been brewing. Not only is James competent, he is extremely reliable and earned my trust over many years of service."

"The business sale was finalized on October 31, 2018, my 57th birthday. I drove my '68 Mustang to the closing and it was a huge change in life that I always knew would come. It was quite an adjustment to switch from having all that responsibility for so many decades. The sale was very simple and it was a single clean transaction."

"The last product I designed was the Q169 Oscillator++ and the Q168 aid module for it. I finished near the end of 2021."

"Over 20 years plenty of interesting stories happen and here's one. A customer in Germany had his house broken in to and among the items stolen was his large modular synthesizer. But he found the tilted cabinet laying in the snow outside apparently because it was just too big to haul off. Other pieces such as the top cabinet were gone though."

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