The Yamaha DX7 is a synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first successful digital synthesizer and is one of the bestselling synthesizers in history, selling over 200,000 units.
In the early 1980s, the synthesizer market was dominated by analog synthesizers. FM synthesis, a means of generating sounds via frequency modulation, was developed by John Chowning at Stanford University, California. FM synthesis created brighter, "glassier" sounds, and could better imitate acoustic sounds such as brass. Yamaha licensed the technology to create the DX7, combining it with very-large-scale integration chips to lower manufacturing costs.
With its complex menus and lack of conventional controls, few learned to program the DX7 in depth. However, its preset sounds became staples of 1980s pop music, used by artists including A-ha, Kenny Loggins, Kool & the Gang, Whitney Houston, Chicago, Phil Collins, Luther Vandross, and Billy Ocean. Its piano sound was particularly widely used, especially in power ballads. Producer Brian Eno mastered the programming and it was instrumental to his work in ambient music.
The DX7 was succeeded by FM synthesizers including the DX1, DX5, DX9, DX11, DX21, DX27 and DX100. In later years their preset sounds came to be seen as dated or cliched, and interest in FM synthesis declined.