Retro Ads: Oberheim OB-1

May 5, 2016

There’s a classic power move when you’re so successful that you don’t need a resumé. You just write one line, something to the effect of: Richard McMillions, CEO of Upper Crust Banking for 33.5 years.

Today’s Retro Ad has a whiff of that sentiment, although not really with the same snootiness.

The 2-VCO, monophonic Oberheim OB-1 analog synth came out in 1978 after the company had already released the SEM (Synthesizer Expander Module), and its resulting Two-Voice, Four-Voice and Eight-Voice products. The OB-1 was based on the SEM’s architecture, and would come to be known for its great bass and lead sounds. It also had eight program memories, making it the first analog synth that could store patches.

However, this ad doesn’t mention eight storable patches. It just shows a photo, mentions that it is a programmable lead synthesizer and lists the price of $1,895. That’s confidence, and probably a good move, especially in light of some of the other rambling, wishy-washy Retro Ad copy we’ve read that seems today that it must’ve done more harm than good.

The OB-1’s success and enduring reputation as a killer early monophonic synth probably had nothing to do with this ad, but perhaps Oberheim just knew it had a good thing going. In 1979 an OB-1 Mk II was released with a new look to more closely match the flagship OB-X polyphonic synth.

These days, the OB-1 has retained its value, selling recently on Ebay for as little as $1,099 and as much as $2,145. Mr. McMillions, you’re hired.

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