Rocky Mount Instruments


Rocky Mount Instruments

Rocky Mount Instruments or RMI was a subsidiary of the Allen Organ Company. It was based in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. It is most famous for the RMI Electra-Piano and Harpsichord, a keyboard instrument that created piano and harpsichord-like sounds without the use of strings, tines, or reeds.

The first models produced were the "Lark" combo organ, the "Explorer" organ, the "Band Organ" and the "Calliope" and "Calliope B" in 1966. The first electric piano model was the "Model 100 Rock-Si-Chord" in 1967, which contained only 2 sounds (string and lute) but was later updated as the "Model 100A" which contained 5 sounds (harpsichord, cembalo, lute, Guitar A, and Guitar B). The "Model 200 Rock-Si-Chord" produced in 1968 was similar the first "Model 100", but featured an accenter option that shortened the decay of the sound. The "Model 200A" however featured twice as many sounds as the "Model 100A".

Beginning in 1970, RMI began producing the 300 Series Electra-piano, the sound of which became very familiar to fans of bands such as Yes and Genesis who used the instrument extensively. The original 300A and B models had 61 keys. Eventually seven more keys were added to create the 368 model. The 368 x was essentially a 368 housed in a new molded plastic case instead of the previously used vinyl covered plywood. In 1973, RMI came out with the Model 400 which was a 300 with a self-contained sound system aimed more at the home-user market, and the 600 series, which was a stereo version of the 300 with two tone generators per key.

In 1974, RMI produced the pioneering "Keyboard Computer" model keyboard instrument, the first portable digital sample player. It produced sounds from waveform model punch cards which were input and digitized into volatile memory, and used no magnetic tapes (in contrast to how Mellotron, Chamberlin, and Birotron created their sounds). Around this time they also introduced their only true synthesizer, the RMI Harmonic Synthesizer, a instrument that was years ahead of its time but not widely used or understood.

In 1979 RMI introduced the DK-20 (Digital Keyboard) as a replacement for the old analog 300 Series. This model was produced until 1982.

The company ceased to exist by 1983.


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