This was our first keyboard instrument; however, it did not sell well despite the hard work the founder Tsutomu Kato put into it because, being expensive, a distribution network had yet to be developed. However, when American buyers saw the prototype of the miniKORG 700/700S they placed surprisingly large orders. Three or four years had passed since the first prototype was released. We traveled a lot of extra distance to get where we were.
This instrument was completely different from other companies’ products in terms of its appearance, specifications, and internal electronic circuits. The reason for this was that we did not want to imitate western synthesizers.
First of all, the purpose of use was different. During the design process, we assumed that this instrument was to be used as the third keyboard placed on an electronic organ, not as a solo instrument.
Therefore, we thought about the specifications and layout with a focus on ease of understanding and operation for organists. The operation panel had to be under the keyboard for organists to be able to easily reach it. The frequently used octaves and waveforms selection switch knobs were given special shapes so that they could be recognized and switched instantly. For players who were touching a synthesizer for the first time, we also devised a system that ensured that the sound would not be lost regardless of what operation was performed.
For example, a mechanical restriction was applied to the two knobs of the Traveler so that one knob’s function did not overtake the function of the other one. I thought that this was a good idea, however, this restriction was removed from some models in order to satisfy a request from musicians overseas to widen the variable range. This reintroduced model includes two types of knobs: one with the restriction added and one without. Please try playing both models.
The “Traveler” function was installed in many of our products ranging from the first prototype, Korgue, and this miniKORG 700 series to the effectors. The name, “Traveler”, signifies two travelers who travel back and forth on a long journey, and is used for the low-pass filter and high-pass filter knobs.
The control panel on the left side of the keyboard of the first prototype was equipped with a looooong Traveler with a special structure in which a knob moved back and forth on the same track. In the illustration, next to the Traveler, you can see a joystick for pitchbend, vowel switching buttons for A, I, U, E, and O, and some letters of “Reverb” in the upper column, which will be applied to the one after the next and subsequent products. This reintroduced model additionally provides a joystick and reverb that were abandoned in the 700s for miniaturization purposes.