The Optigan was a small organ manufactured by the Mattel Corporation in the early to mid 1970's originally designed as a toy. It serves as an interesting move toward sampling technology, as it worked mainly around a series of plastic discs (mostly the size of LPs) constructed of a material similar to movie film. Using a process almost exactly alike to film sound recording (which is stored on the side of the film and read when pulled through the projector) a series of instruments are sampled to create "Theme Discs." These theme discs range from Bluegrass through to various plinks and plonks general noises. The discs are inserted into the optigan by means of a small slot just underneath the keyboard. Buttons on the side provide a set of pre-recorded riffs and rhythms that the optigan can loop and mutate slightly. Segments of the keyboard also, are dedicated to samples of instruments that one might consider a part of the title of the disk. A keyboard segment to the banjo and harmonica might be found in the Bluegrass disc.

this instrument has undergone extensive use by the band Optiganally Yours as well as cameo appearances by Devo, Fiona Apple and even possibly Marylin Manson on his upcoming album.

See for ALL you need to know about the Optigan.

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