I know very little - if anything - about this peculiar little episode in the history of digital drum machines other than the fact that it was the brainchild of one Manfred Fricke who offered this (and a range of other related products) as DIY kits for an astonishingly low price.

Fricke started in 1976 and brought out a low cost drum machine kit. This was followed by more drum machines, sequencers, a MIDI-CV convertor and host of other curious little products. If you've never heard of them, it's because they predominantly sold in Germany.

The MFB512 seems to be the best known of their range and offered nine sampled drum sounds, 64 programmable patterns and 64 programmable fill-ins. It also had 8 individual outputs (on a DIN socket!) as well as mono and stereo outputs.

I have no idea how patterns were created or selected for playback or how fills were triggered and the only information I could find was in German. It didn't look the most intuitive of user interfaces though as you can see from the photo!

But the sounds aren't bad even today.

If you want to find out more about this little beatbox, you can download a review from UK magazine "Electronic Soundmaker & Computer Music" here. Originally published in 1984, this review has recently been sent to me by Eddie Macarthur. Thanks for that!