When Keith Barr, previously of MXR Innovations, moved to Hollywood in the early '80s, it was for the purpose of working on integrated circuit design. He had no idea that he was going to revolutionize an entire segment of the music industry. Alesis, the company he founded with partner Russell Palmer in 1984, began life by developing the first musician-affordable digital reverb, the Alesis XT. Though the XT did well, it was with the 1986 release of the Midiverb and Midifex processors (at a previously unheard of $399) that the company began to really take off.
Following these successful products, Alesis continued to grow, fueled in part by a creative partnership with Marcus Ryle and Michel Doidic, formerly of Oberheim, who had founded Fast Forward Designs and would go on to be the founders of Line 6. The MMT-8 and HR16 MIDI sequencer and drum machine were huge hits for the company and set the stage for the development of the ADAT digital multi-track recorder, the first affordable, high-quality digital recorder, which totally revolutionized what home recordists were capable of producing. Using S-VHS videotapes as a recording medium, the ADAT could record eight tracks of CD-quality audio, and up to 16 ADATs could be slaved together for 128 audio tracks. For the first time, home studios could turn out recordings rivaling studio productions in audio quality.
Alesis kept up with incredible products like the Quadrasynth line of keyboards, a line of studio reference monitors, drum modules and many others. In 2001, Alesis was acquired by Jack O'Donnell, who also owned Numark, and the engineering resources and experience of these companies have created a creative synergy that has sustained the tradition of innovation for which Alesis first became known.
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