The Voltage Controlled Studio 3 - VCS3 (aka The Putney) was the first commercial product to come from EMS in 1969. The electronics were largely designed by David Cockerell and the machine's distinctive visual appearance was the work of electronic composer Tristram Cary with input from Zinovieff.
The VCS3 was not a keyboard instrument nor was it designed with the traditional musician in mind. It was a portable but powerful and versatile electronic music studio – rather than electronic instrument. It was the first affordable modular synthesiser that could easily be carried around and used live as a performance instrument. As well as an electronic instrument in it’s own right, the VCS3 could also be used as an effects generator and a signal processor, allowing musicians to manipulate external sounds such as guitars and voice.
The Synthi AKS, was a portable modular analog synthesiser made by EMS in 1972. Most notable for its patch pin matrix, built-in blue capacitive touch keyboard and integrated sequencer, many of its functions and internal design were the same as the EMS VCS3 with the major difference of being all housed in a Spartanite (thin plastic) briefcase rather than a timber case. Like the VCS3, the Synthi AKS feature three oscillators (which are stable after 10 minutes of warm up) and a unique patch bay signal routing system.
The Synthi E was a general purpose electronic music synthesiser designed especially to be used in schools and colleges. It was intended as a teaching aid into the principles of sound synthesis and electronic music. The Synthi E was housed in a brief-case and battery powered, It had many of the features of the earlier Synthi models along with several new ones. Internal Modules were now interconnected using a simple patching system that allowed experimentation not possible with usual performance synthesisers.
“A lot of the design was dictated by really silly things like what surplus stuff I could buy in Lisle Street (at Army-surplus junk shops)…For instance, those slow motion dials for the oscillator, that was bought on Lisle street, in fact nearly all the components were bought on Lisle street…being an impoverished amateur, I was always conscious of making things cheap. I saw the way Moog did it (referring to Moog's ladder filter) but I adapted that and changed that…he had a ladder based on ground-base transistors and I changed it to using simple diodes…to make it cheaper. transistors were twenty pence and diodes were tuppence!”
David Cockerell from ‘Analog Days‘