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Octet Design
History of Octet Products
by Robbie Rhodes

UM1front.gif (4 kb)

The first UM1 circuit boards were delivered sometime in 1996 to customer Jean-Claude Pasche for use with the MIDI-controlled orchestrions at Café-théatre Barnabé, Servion, Switzerland.  Concerts were planned to begin in November 1996 when installation of the big theatre organ would be complete.

The first production UM1 units were shipped to customers early in September 1996.  Laurent wrote to me then that they were "output only" and that he was still  writing the user's manual and working on the firmware for the "input" mode.  By the end of November 1996 Laurent was discussing with potential customers how the UM1 might be used with reproducing pianos and with the Hammond player organ, and shortly thereafter thoughtful questions appeared in Mechanical Music Digest.

I guess that during the 1996 Christmas season Laurent visited Switzerland (his birthplace) and Café-théatre Barnabé, because in MMDigest 97.01.03 he wrote that M. Pasche was seeking "toy box" instruments for the organ system.  In April 1997 he visited So. California and looked into applying his design to the Mills Violano.
Then in July 1997 he traveled again to Cafe-theatre Barnabe in Switzerland.

In 970721 MMDigest Laurent wrote about his discussions with folks interested in using the UM1 to transcribed music rolls to MIDI files.  On 30 July 1997 I wrote to Larry Broadmoore suggesting that Laurent could collaborate with the PowerRoll device. (Larry estimated that for $150,000 he could build a working prototype PowerRoll.)  A few days later Laurent shipped an older prototype UM1 to me for evaluation.  At the end of August 1997 Laurent visited Wayne Stahnke and me.

By February 1998 Laurent was working with Richard Brandle toward the "Wind" and "WindPlay" programs.  In July 1998 I loaned my UM1 to Lee Roan for experiments with his roll transcriber system.  Craig Brougher announced in 981118 MMDigest that he planned to use the Octet UM1 in his big orchestrion. This announcement appeared in Mechanical Music Digest of 26 October 1998:


From: (Laurent Coray)
To: "MMD" <>
Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1998 10:02:33 -0800

Subject: Octet Electronic Hardware for Perforator

Regarding the perforator software and hardware:

For those of you who desire punching but do not want to built the
electronic drivers, and want ready-to-roll software, we have the
solution:  The Wayne Stahnke "Punch" software and the Octet Design
PD1-100 or PD1-128.

The PD1 products were designed for this software and will work with
it, with some additional features not found in other [MIDI converter]

 - connects to printer port of PC
 - 104 to 128 optically isolated outputs drive 55 volts, 2 amps
 - direct connections for unipolar stepper motor, with separate power
 - solid state relay for main motor
 - outputs switch to the negative of the solenoid power supply,
     (common positive)
 - output duty cycle control to reduce power during hold:
     after the solenoid has accomplished its move with full power,
     the current is reduced to 25% (adjustable). This feature can be
 - catch diode on every output to the positive of the solenoid
     power supply
 - trigger switch input, optically isolated, can be disabled
 - price $479 for 104 outputs, $509 for 128

Laurent Coray
Octet Design Corp.,  7312 SE Yamhill St.,  Portland  OR 97215
sales (800) 533-6434 / (503) 251-8214 / fax (503) 256-8441


Ron Perry wrote me that Laurent died on Sunday, 18 July 1999.  He was only 36 years old, but suffered an inoperable brain tumor.  Within a day or two a notice appeared at his web site saying that the company would be sold soon.  The news of his death was posted in MMD 990728.  Larry Broadmoore wrote to me on 31 July saying that he'd spoken with Ron Perry and that it looked like Ron would purchase Octet Design Corp.

-------------------- [MMD 990906]

From: (Ron Perry)
To: "Mechanical Music Digest" <>
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1999 12:17:29 -0700

Subject: Octet Design Products by MIDIator Systems

With the tragic passing of Laurent Coray there has been concern about
what will happen to the Octet products that he designed and sold.

MIDIator Systems is proud to announce that we are setting up production
of those units.  We are now in the process of filling prior commitments.
We should be ready to accept new orders in a few weeks.

Ron Perry, MIDIator Systems

 [ Editor's note:
 [ Ron is perhaps the best-qualified person we can think of to take over
 [ the products designed by Laurent Coray.  His background is electrical
 [ engineering, and for many years he worked alongside Dave Saul at the
 [ U.S. Navy lab in San Diego.  A few years ago he purchased the MIDIator
 [ product line from Laurent, as so he knows the design philosphy which
 [ Laurent applied to the Octet MIDI products.  Like Laurent did, Ron
 [ understands very well the special problems encountered when adding new
 [ electronic devices into old mechanical music instruments.
 [ -- Robbie


10 July 2001

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