In a bid to keep the kids entertained last night, I dug out my 17-year old Alesis QS6 synthesizer, plugged it in and let them make a horrendous racket. As I got the thing plugged in, and excitement levels were rampant, I did for a split second wonder “Will it still work?”. There were no problems.

It’s quite remarkable, especially as I spent an hour later in the evening factory-resetting the Nexus 7 tablet I have because it had become so remarkably slow.

To be fair to the tablet, I have never installed any apps on the Alesis, or, to be frank, used it to any great extent since 1999. But I do find it incredible compared with the benchmarks today that a piece of digital technology can still work so reliably over such a long period of time, and also still be compatible with current kit. Plug it into a Midi interface and I can get the Alesis to control my contemporary music tools (all software based – the wonderful Reason from Swedish software house Propellerheads).

Imagine getting a 1996-vintage laptop or desktop (one of these, maybe) out of a cupboard, turning it on and seeing what happened. Imagine getting a 1996-vintage mobile phone (like this) to do anything useful.

Whilst just about everything about the Alesis is utterly outmoded (a whacking 8MB of ROM storage, expandable to 16MB using a PCMCIA card!!), the most ancient thing about it – the piano-style keyboard – is in many ways timeless. It’s output – music via jack plugs – also (just about) stand the test of time. I know that no other digital gadget that I’ve purchased in the past five years will have the same length of serviceable life…


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