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Akai Professional was established in 1984 as a musical instrument division of the larger Akai Electric Company, a Tokyo-based manufacturer of consumer electronics. The company's first product was the MG1212, a 12-channel, 12-track tape recorder. An amazingly innovative device for the time, it could simultaneously record 12 tracks for 10 minutes at a quality that rivalled much more expensive machines. The AX series of analogue synthesizers followed, as well as the S series of digital samplers.

All of these would pave the way for one of the most recognisable and influential instrument series of all time: the MPC. Designed with American engineer Roger Linn (of LinnDrum fame), the MPC-60, released in 1999, redefined what it was possible to make with samples, elevating their use to an art form exemplified by artists such as J Dilla and DJ Shadow. It also condensed an entire studio's worth of functionality into a desktop device that was fun and intuitive to use.

A large part of the MPC's appeal was the 4x4 grid of pressure sensitive pads. Though these have now become an industry standard, at the time they were entirely unique, and more importantly, had no connotations of theoretical music attached to them like a set of piano keys. It single-handedly democratised the production process for a new generation of producers.

Person playing Akai MPC
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