ARP Instruments, Inc. was an American manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, founded by Alan Robert Pearlman in 1969. It created a popular and commercially successful range of synthesizers throughout the 1970s before declaring bankruptcy in 1981. The company earned a reputation for producing excellent sounding, innovative instruments and was granted several patents for the technology it developed.
The birth of ARP
ARP Instruments, Inc. (subsequently referred to as ARP) was founded in 1969. The name came from the initials of one of the founders, Alan Robert Pearlman. Co-founders included Lewis G. Pollock and David Friend, who was the chief engineer and later designed the ARP Odyssey.
It was an age when gigantic modular systems dominated the synthesizer world. However, the tuning of these instruments was usually unstable and each manufacturer struggled with this problem. ARP decided that the development of a highly stable oscillator was important so they dedicated research and product development towards achieving this goal.
The model they first developed was the ARP 2500, a large modular synthesizer. The design on this model used a large number of matrix switches, placed above and below the knobs and switches of the panel, replacing the patch cord design that was used on other manufacturers' products of the time. This unique design strategy eliminated the complex tangles of patch cords that obscured the panel. Thanks to ARP's research, tuning was now extremely stable and the ARP 2500 became a hit product as a research tool for universities. It even appeared in the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977) as a device used to communicate with an alien spacecraft.
ARP 2500 (1970)
The next well-known model was the ARP 2600, which appeared in 1971. More compact than the 2500, this mid-range model was designed with the sound generator and the keyboard as separate units. It was a three-VCO unit in which the main modules were internally wired, but patch cords could also be connected to create complex sounds. Some additional characteristics, rarely seen on other models, were a built-in speaker and spring reverb. The special features and sounds caused the ARP 2600 to be used in many recordings and by musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Joe Zawinul.