Remember in Trainspotting, when Diane told Renton that music, among other things, was changing? That wasn’t just idle speculation; sure, music is always progressing, but at the dawn of the 1980s, popular music experienced its own form of the personal computer revolution, and the landscape would never, ever again look the same.
Before the advent of user friendly, widely available versions of electronic instruments like synthesizers and drum machines, making music electronically was equal parts eccentric hobby and specialized academic field. On the other side of the spectrum were commercially available machines that were practically toys. Electronically produced music was technically daunting, unsatisfyingly primitive, or both.
Early drum machines, for instance, weren’t suited for making original music at all; they only produced a selection of preset rhythms. Then the Roland TR-808 came along and changed everything forever, eventually. The drum sounds produced by the 808 were noticeably electronic, rather than anything approaching real drums. The synthetic percussion sounds of the 808 became a feature rather than a bug in the hands of creators who heard the sound of the future in the electrical currents and transistors. Even more importantly, the fact that users could program their own drum patterns with the TR-808 allowed these sounds to be utilized in brand new ways. New genres were created on the back of the 808. As a commercial product, the TR-808 was a damp squib, but to enterprising, young pioneers, the 808 offered a world of possibilities.
From chart toppers to seminal underground acts, the TR-808 made its way into the evolution of pop music. Madonna, Marvin Gaye, New Order, Afrika Bambaataa, the Beastie Boys, Run DMC and 808 State, among many others past and present broke new ground with the help of the 808.
Puma celebrates this landmark in music technology with the help of its own contribution to the computer age. 1986’s RS-Computer outfitted the advanced athletic performance technology of the RS-100 with a computer chip that recorded time, distance travelled, and calories burned. The shoe could be connected to popular PC’s of the era from Apple, IBM and Commodore, to display the results.
The classic RS-100 and the reimagined as RS-0, leave out the old-school computer interface, but the embrace of retro tech is stronger than ever, with colors and design details inspired by the iconic drum machine. The red, yellow, and orange keys of the 808 are prominently featured, while silver accents and ‘Rhythm Composer’ ‘Computer Controlled’ and “Bass Drum’ text from the machine’s console is reproduced at the heels, for a fully detailed tribute.
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