For May, 1979

Started at Sequential Circuits

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There are the intentional things one does towards one’s path. And then there are the accidents. How I got started in the synthesizer business couldn’t better illustrate the interplay between my background, dumb luck, and Jungian timing.

We were living in a unique redwood cottage secluded in the middle of a downtown Palo Alto block ­ a real find, although stiff for us at $300/mo. It was not unusual for people to leave notes on our door ­ “if you are ever going to move please let us know!!” One day such a note was left on the business card of a Carla Carlberg, an associate of the Guitar Player / Contemporary Keyboard magazines. I had been reading CK for a year already and had decided I should be writing for them. I used the opportunity to call Carla, talk about the house plan and ask whom I might direct my resume to at CK. She responded with the name Tom Darter, Editor. I sent my materials in but nothing else happened.

…Until one evening early May in that same cottage when I got a call from a woman who said she was vice president of an electronics company and she would like to talk to me about their need for a technical writer. It is a real sign of those times that my first reaction was that this must be some crank call. There just weren’t women vp’s at the time. Most of what she was saying about synthesizers flew right past me until she said that she had received my resume by way of Keyboard magazine. They were growing and had exploding needs for docs. Click. Gee, thank you Mr. Darter!

I arrived to learn that Barb Fairhurst was across the street in the orchard playing Frisbee. She set a strong, active tone for Sequential. Manuals were under Marketing on her side of the company. And after seeing my Deterline, Ampex, and solo Chemetrics work combined with organ depth and classical and jazz practice, she hired me. (This after I tortured a while about turning down another offer from a mainstream word processing company!)

It turns out that Tom consulted for Sequential at the time; we shared some operation manuals for a while as I brought up Technical Publications. In telling Tom this story involving Carla some years ago I learned that Ms. Carlberg passed too early. Certainly before I could ever tell her with thanks about the ball she set in motion.

The day I started, Prophet-5 serial number 184 — the first of the coveted Rev 2 series — shipped. My first task was to come up with the materials to support service in the field. It took the rest of the year for me and a couple of drafters to thoroughly document the Prophet-5. I am sure that this tested everyone’s patience; but the result gave the strongest possible impression that the company was serious about the quality of its technical support.

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