The Dubreq Stylophone was a runaway success in the '70s, not so much within musical circles (although they have been used by such luminaries as David Bowie, Kraftwerk and Pulp) but as a gimmick, a toy, a marketing success story.

Dubreq was founded in 1967 by three British workmates: Brian Jarvis (inventor of the Stylophone), his brother Ted and Burt Coleman. They worked in the Broadcast / Film industry, dubbing and recording film sound tracks, hence the company name - 'Dubreq' (presumably, the 'q' was used to add an air of European mystique)!

The company brought in jovial Australian entertainer Rolf Harris to help promote the Stylophone. Rolf was a popular kid's TV presenter at the time and his almost shameless propensity for jolllity and self-promotion made the Stylophone a huge success to the point where most people thought that Rolf actually invented the thing himself... he did not - he was merely a well-known face used to promote it.

But he did a great job (and was quite a virtuoso on it) and the Stylophone was a huge commercial success in its short life!

Marketed as a 'pocket electronic organ' that anyone could play with no musical training, it used a stylus to play the notes - you touched the metal 'keyboard' with the stylus to complete a circut and a note was triggered.

It sounded truly awful! A horrible, buzzy pulse wave through a small cheap speaker that sounded like a very butch wasp on steroids!

There were two settings: a 'straight' sound and a vibrato sound selectable from a slider switch to the left of the 'keyboard'.

There was no volume control either and the only way to turn the annoying sound down was to place your hand over the speaker. Given that it became a popular children's toy, parents must have been driven demented by the whining, nasal warbling reverberating around their houses and I am sure that many mums and dads at the time had wished they'd spent a bit more on a Chopper bike instead!

In their time, Dubreq marketed three models of the Stylophone (see above) which Rolf (left) tirelessly promoted.

I genuinely believe that Dubreq thought that they had brought to the masses a new, affordable tool for modern musical expression and had visions of people jamming with them... maybe even serious composers writing music especialy for the instrument. But it was not to be...

The Stylophone was a fad... a gimmick... a toy.... initially very attractive but ultimately destined for the dustbin!

Dubreq tried to follow up on their success with the 350S Stylophone that offered more sound variations but that was not to be either... they had their moment with the orignal.