A short history of Casio VL-1

The 1970s to 1980s transition was a big turn in the world. Music, art, culture, fashion and other spheres of the life of people were heavily affected by this period of time. So, did it came to the transition of the history of synthesizers.

From the first invention of the New England Digital’s ( NED ) synclavier, the dominance of the analogue synthesizer begun to change into a new dawn of digital synthesizers typical for the digital era. Still, ironically, the analogue beasts just remained dormant, well that is for another synth shot!

The release of Casio VL-1

Digital synthesizer defined the sound of 1980s, but this wouldn’t had been possible if digital synthesizers were not manufactured for the wide range of customers. The first digital synthesizers like ‘synclavier’  were really expensive. Yet, with the release of Casio VL-1, synthesizers began to find their place in everyone’s homes and heart and mind.

CASIO VL-1 was the first affordable synthesizer that people could easily get their hands onto. It sold only for $69.95. It was heavily used for commercial purposes as well as, of course, personal dip.

The look of this mini synthesizer may trick you think it might be of an insignificant one. But this little masterpiece played a significant role to turn the analogue synthesizer decade to a new decade of digital synthesizers as well as home and toy keyboards from thereafter.

The role of VL-1 in the development of the Casio brand

This mini synthesizer is where the wheels rolled for Casio to the music industry. Casio was not popular for fiddling with musical instruments but they were rather popular for calculators and LCD wrist watches.

Its shift towards the music industry began with the release of its new pocket calculator called ‘Melody 80’. This device had a capability to produce mini sounds and notes by pressing various buttons on the calculator. With this, Casio started diving more into these calculators.

Eventually, in 1980 they released their first home keyboard, called Casiotone 201. And, from there, they begun to create most strange looking and sounding keyboards.

Finally they settled down on the VL-1 which became the first Casio synthesizer in 1981 and the lifespan of this device lasted until 1984. According to one of the early 1980s music magazines, the release was a big hit on the marketplace. Casio sold this mini piece of work 100 thousand times per month in Japan. It was a buzz word and had a bit of cliche of luxury image, everybody wanted one. One of the reason it was popular is because this wonderful melody box was used by the 80s act like Human league or Stevie Wonder.

Casio VL-1 and the music industry

The most popular track made use of Casio VL-1 was the German Band Trio called “ Da Da Da”. You might have heard it at one point of your life if you grew up in the 1990s and of course 1980s or before. If you missed, go ahead and check for this early synth pop song.