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The Stylophone is a miniature analog stylus-operated keyboard. Invented in 1967 by Brian Jarvis, it entered production in 1968, manufactured by Dubreq. It consists of a metal keyboard played by touching it with a stylus—each note being connected to a voltage-controlled oscillator via a different-value resistor—thus closing a circuit. The only other controls were a power switch and a vibrato control on the front panel beside the keyboard, and a tuning control on the rear. Some three million Stylophones were sold, mostly as children's toys.
The Stylophone was available in three variants: standard, bass, and treble, the standard one being by far the most common. There was also a larger version called the 350S with more notes on the keyboard, various voices, a novel 'wah-wah' effect that was controlled by moving one's hand over a photo-sensor, and two styluses.
In the mid-1970s a new model appeared which featured pseudo-wood on the speaker panel and a volume control. This was shortly before the Stylophone ceased production altogether in 1975.
In October 2007 toy company Re:creation, in conjunction with Dubreq Ltd (re-formed in 2003 by Ben Jarvis, the son of the original inventor), re-launched the Stylophone, 32 years after the original had ceased to be manufactured. The new model, officially called the S1, is a digital copy that closely resembles the 1960s original but has a volume control and features an audio throughput function, as well as sporting two new sounds.
In popular culture
- David Bowie is credited with playing the Stylophone on his 1969 debut hit song Space Oddity.
- Tony Visconti played Stylophone on the Sparks 1975 album Indiscreet.
- The Kraftwerk classic 1981 song "Pocket Calculator" uses the Stylophone. It's one of the main instruments on this track and a 'Stylophone solo' ends the song.
- The 1999 track "Style" (and its several other versions) by Orbital takes its name from Stylophone, which is used extensively on the track.
- American alternative rock group They Might Be Giants has made use of the Stylophone on their 2007 album The Else.
- BBC film critic Mark Kermode played a Stylophone on the 8 January 2010 instalment of his and Simon Mayo's film review programme. Kermode described recently learning how to play the instrument.
- On the 5 March 2010 edition of his Kermode Uncut vodcast, Mark Kermode played a rendition of Richard Strauss' Sunrise on the Stylophone in homage to Duncan Jones' film Moon.
- Richard Barone uses Stylophone on numerous recordings, including "Glow" and '"Girl" on his 2010 album Glow. On the latter song it is a played by his producer Tony Visconti.
- Stylophone is being used as a main instrument by russian rock-group 'Gromyka'.
- British band Pulp use the Stylophone prominently in their song "Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia)", which appears on their 1992 Babies single and 1993 compilation album Intro – The Gift Recordings.
- Dan Howell, a British YouTuber and BBC radio presenter, is known for playing the Stylophone.
- Bret Dominio, British YouTuber is a well known user of the Stylophone , Creating many tunes with it for The Bret Domino Trio.
In December 2012, Dubreq released the Series 2 Stylophone, a British made, true full spec analogue synth.
- David McNamee. "Hey, what's that sound: Stylophone | Music". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
- Elliott, Amy-Mae (14 September 2007). ""Iconic" Seventies Stylophone to be revived by HMV". Pocket-Lint Ltd. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
- "AllMusic Credits Space Oddity".
- "The single and the instrument described by Loopz, the official Orbital fanzine.".
- "BBC Radio 5 live - Kermode and Mayo's Film Review, 08/01/2010". Bbc.co.uk. 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2015-06-04.
-  Archived March 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- "ГРОМЫКА - "Говорил я вам"/ GROMYKA - "As I Said Unto You"". YouTube.com. 2015-11-05. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
- "Pulp - Styloroc (Nites of Suburbia)". YouTube.com. 2009-04-28. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
- "Dubreq Stylophone S2". Stylophone2.com. 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2015-06-04.