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'Doctor Who' Rare Synthesizer From 1971 Being Restored

By Jaime Prisco j.prisco@classicalite.com on Feb 24, 2015 10:45 AM EST

Are you ready for some more wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff? A rare synthesizer used in the British television show Doctor Who in 1971 is being restored to be used at a concert in March.

Electronic Music Studios’s Synthi 100 modular synthesizer was first released in 1971 and is extremely rare. The company made only 30 before it went into liquidation in 1979. Australia’s ABC News reported that the synthesizer is one of the possibly three remaining Synthi 100s in its original, working condition.

The synth's main claim to fame is its use in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop on their score for the Doctor Who serial “The Sea Devils.” Now, Leslie Craythorn, the outgoing senior technical officer at the Melbourne Conservatorium, has spent his days working on restoring the machine before his retirement.

Craythorne first came in contact with the Synthi in 1975, when he was employed as a technician in the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music's electronic music laboratory.

"When I walked in and saw the size and the immensity of the machine ... it's overwhelming," he said in an interview with ABC.

He worked with the machine nearly every day for the next 12 years, supporting students using it to create experimental music.

Melbourne University kept the instrument in storage for 20 years before deciding to restore the instrument back to complete working condition. In his ABC interview, Craythorn said he removed each of the Synthi's 84 circuit cards and 185 dials, cleaning them using specialty lubricants and an ultrasonic bath. He got help from EMS technician Robin Wood, who helped track down replacement components from around the world.

The Synthi in now more than 90 percent operational, and plans are on track to have it fully operational in time for a planned concert in late March.

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TagsDoctor Who, Synthesizer, Restored, Electronic Music Studios’ Synthi 100, BBC

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