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The Stylophone

In the late 60s, a British man with funny hair invented a cheap, handheld synthesizer that plays by running a little electronic pen across a little keyboard. Despite sounding like a musical greeting card that’s been through the microwave a couple times, the Stylophone captured the imagination of some of the era’s most notable musical weirdoes, among them a young David Bowie and even younger Ralf Hutter of Kraftwerk, and did pretty decent business until its discontinuation in 1980. In this English edition of Motherboard, we meet up with the Stylophone’s creator, some of its recent revivalists like Little Boots and the Stylophone Orchestra of Great Britain, and try to figure out how this plucky little box sealed its place in the pantheon of great, obnoxious instruments. If only the same could be said for its stillborn brother, the wobble-board.

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