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Who Doth Dare Enter Ye Olde Optigan Archives???

Collected on this page you’ll find a variety of documents and pictures related to the Optigan. This stuff is mostly for the hardcore fan who just ain’t satisfied until they get the WHOLE story. I’ll be adding more items to this page as I get around to them (believe me- there’s LOTS of stuff to add!) so let me know which kinds of things you’d like to see more of here and I’ll try to accomodate.

Are there any rare prototype Optigans still out there?

Probably not. The earliest design concept for the Optigan was a small organ containing something like an Edison Cylinder. When the keys were pressed, they would push down needles onto the audio tracks. This proved to be completely unstable, though, so the focus shifted to optical means. It’s doubtful that any of these prototypes still [...]

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Do the master tapes for the Optigan discs still exist?

Yes and no. All of the original 8 and 16 track masters are gone, but fortunately Mike held on to the 1/4″ stereo mix-down masters. These are probably the most useful tapes to have anyway. I am the current legal owner of these tapes, and have copyrighted the material contained on them. All 40-odd hours [...]

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How To Make An Optigan Disc – Then and Now

A photo essay documenting the creation of Optigan discs.

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Optigan Patents

View some of the original Optigan patents.

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The Optigan Master Reels

An index of the contents of the Optigan master reels.

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Circular Photo-Electric Sound Track Joint Closure

A design change issue from Mike LeDoux.

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Improved Disc Mastering System

Mike LeDoux’s thoughts on optical disc mastering.

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Inter-office Memo

A telephone memo, for comic relief.

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Optigan Disc Production Flow Chart

A flowchart illustrating the timeline of Optigan disc manufacturing.

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Long Lost Optigan Demo/Promo Cassettes

Awhile back I got a small package of cassettes from Jennifer LeDoux, Mike LeDoux‘s widow. Before he passed away, Mike had told me that he’d given me all the Optigan-related items he thought he had, but apparently he missed these cassettes. They contain mostly demos and promo spots of various sorts. I finally got around [...]

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Mike LeDoux Memorial American Cancer Society Donation for 2010

Continuing in the tradition of donating 10% of the proceeds of the Optigan Archives Vol. 1 sample set to the American Cancer Society in memory of Mike LeDoux, the total donation for 2010 came to $248.20. My continued thanks to everyone who has purchased this sample set.

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One of the Long-Lost Optigan TV Commercials Finally Found!

Very cool news! I knew that eventually an Optigan TV commercial would turn up! Youtube user chumrain writes this: Finally…one has been found (I know that several people have been searching high and low and haven’t come up with anything). Here is a long-lost television commercial for the Optigan, starring actor Carl Betz. This is [...]

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Original ca 1972 Optigan Promotional Demo Recordings by Johnny Largo

I finally got around to assembling and uploading some miscellaneous Optigan demo recordings made by Johnny Largo ca 1972. Some of these recordings have previously been heard elsewhere, but many of them are seeing the light of day for the first time here, direct from the original studio master tapes. Unfortunately Johnny didn’t last long [...]

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Optigan Featured on latest Sonic Talk episode

There’s some Optigan chit-chat on the latest Sonic Talk episode: Many thanks for the kind words from Dave Spiers & company! To answer a couple of the questions brought up: 1. Yes, various folks have used Optigans in live performance (including yours truly), and yes, they’re a pain in the ass to play live, especially [...]

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Optigan / Orchestron Master Tape Vault feat. “Kraftwerk Choir” Tape/Demo

Since there’s been some interest this week, here’s a quick video of the Optigan/Orchestron master tape vault, ie my library closet. Sorry for my incoherent rambling. Highlighted is the tape containing the famous Orchestron Vocal Choir sound that Kraftwerk used during the mid-late 70s on several albums/songs. Here I demonstrate probably the most recognizeable Kraftwerk [...]

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1975 Photo Essay – How to Make an Optigan Disc

I had some Optigan odds & ends sitting around and decided to mash them all up into one video. The slide show is from a photo album that Mike LeDoux (the guy in charge of making all the original Optigan discs) put together in 1975 in order to, basically, show his corporate overlords at Miner [...]

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Bob Moog References Optigan/Orchestron in 1985 Keyboard Magazine Article

The very first time I heard about the Optigan and Orchestron was in this article penned by Bob Moog for the Sept. 1985 issue of Keyboard Magazine (with Jan Hammer on the cover).

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A Mediterranean Optigan at Nixon’s Western White House

Before he passed away, Mike LeDoux shared an intriguing Optigan story with me, which I was reminded of this week in light of everything that’s going on with our current president. He pulled out these office memos and had me read them. Astute students of history will note that at the time these memos were [...]

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