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The Rhodes Years

The Rhodes Years

  • Chroma Setup
  • Chroma Unleased Ad Page
  • Chroma Unleashed Ad Page
  • Open Apple II with Computer Interface
  • Chroma
  • Chroma Expander
  • html slider
  • Chroma Polaris
Chroma Setup1 Chroma Unleased Ad Page2 Chroma Unleashed Ad Page3 Open Apple II with Computer Interface4 Chroma5 Chroma Expander6 NAMM 1982 Setup7 Chroma Polaris8
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The Rhodes Chroma was a serious computer-controller analog synthesizer that is still recognized today as a great instrument.  Work started at ARP in Lexington, MA, but Fender purchased the remaining assets of ARP and set up shop in nearby Woburn, MA to finish the Chroma project. I worked on the tapper and the power supply designs. I debugged a lot of generator boards and created the wirewrap prototype motherboard.

The Rhodes Chroma Expander was really a great product, but would have been better if we could have figured out how to have it EXPAND the number of voices in the master Chroma instead of just being additional layers of sound.

I worked on the Apple IIe interface card design, and wrote all the Apple II sequencer software. As far as I know, this was the world’s first PC multi-track sequencer directly connected to a synth (pre-dates MIDI).  Bob Moog wrote a good article about the Chroma-Apple interface.  The Chroma Unleashed sales brochure was a great one, and it highlighted the Computer Interface as part of the Chroma system.

The Rhodes Chroma Polaris started while we were in the Woburn, MA facility, but before it was was released, Fender closed the Woburn facility, and Paul Sharp and I moved to Fullerton, CA, while Paul DeRocco remained on the project as a consultant.  There, I worked on the keyboard and getting the product manufactured at a factory that Fender Japan had arranged. “Fred” gained about 10 pounds when he went to Japan (at that time they didn’t like to use aluminum).

I still have a Chroma, a Chroma Expander, and a Polaris, although I don’t play them often.  I still have a lot of spare Chroma generator boards and various spare parts.  Chris Ryan has created www.rhodeschroma.com, a website that has over 300 pages of historical and technical information about the Chroma, Expander, and Polaris