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Greetings from the Future - The Almighty Atari Hotz Duo \m/
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Author Greetings from the Future - The Almighty Atari Hotz Duo \m/
MINDTHREAT
Greetings everyone!

Have lurked around for a long time but finally made an account to share one of my more recent lifelong dream acquisitions with everyone here at The Wiggler hihi




A time long long ago and far far away (1988 specifically) a guy by the name of Jimmy Hotz teamed up with Mick Fleetwood and Atari to make these wondrously super-sleek and ultra-fast, flat membrane MIDI controllers called the Atari Hotz Box or Hotz Translators. (I tend to categorize it along some other far out things like the SynthAxe or the more modern Haken Continuum.) They were to be used in conjunction with specific Translator software that ran on the Atari ST computers at the time. (Later they could be ran through PCs with newer software iterations but nothing came close to matching the identical software layout to that of the actual hardware other than the original Atari ST software - the newer PC software versions were just that of a basic keyboard layout). Here's a quick video (actually more serious and showing the potential) of Jimmy Hotz himself demonstrating the Hotz Box:



Long story short, Atari branded and sold the device under their wing for a few years but eventually reverted rights back to Jimmy Hotz, most likely due to poor sales. The biggest culprit being the controller price, with the smaller units ranging from $2,500 and the large ones selling for upward of $10,000. Not exactly chump change to your everyday Joe and quite a lot of risk for someone who would judge a book by sparse review covers or a few (dare I say goofy even) videos showing people playing the device who don't typically play piano or keyboard to begin with, least of all not the type of person who would invest $2,500+ in said device to a non-musician - promoted as magic to your fingertips allowing anyone to create music that sounds good and is always in key.

Anyways, I've wanted one since I learned about them in early 2000 but obviously couldn't afford it then and they were seemingly unobtainable since they didn't seem to be sold anymore. Time passes, I forget about it for what seems like forever and come back around into the Synth stuff again full-on a few years ago (2016) and set out to finally acquire the large unit I had always dreamed of owning when I was just a poor kid so long ago. (this turned into me ending up with both small and large units just last year)

A picture of the large Hotz Box unit in all its massive 63lb, 37" wide glory, which I coined The Mothership:



Definitely not child's play, though it almost seemed like it was attempted to be marketed as such. I gather they were just trying every possible angle in hopes to lure would-be purchasers in. Clearly that didn't work. A short time after, I landed the smaller Wing unit that accompanies the main large unit, which I coined The Mothership II:




The end result was wanting to have them setup on the same stand as shown in the original brochure from the late 80s as seen above on the top post:





I've only had them for a year and while my time has been limited to experiment with the setup (it's far more complex than everything would lead one to believe if you're getting deep into the software side, just look at how thick the software manual is!) I've had an absolute blast with them and will continue to explore the possibilities as time goes on. It's definitely not something I'm getting rid of anytime soon, if ever. While this doesn't even touch the surface of its capabilities, below is a short song demo I created without using any of the software and only running the unit through my trusty Roland 2080:



This one was recorded the first day I received the unit about a year ago:



Would love to hear stories of anyone else who may have played, owned or currently owns one! There doesn't appear to be a ton of info out there regarding this thing outside of the obvious dozen videos or so on YouTube and a few bands that used it like Yes!, Mick Fleetwood and a small handful of others way back when.

It definitely seemed like it was far ahead of its time for a device in 1988 but screams nothing other than long hair 80s metal and I love it! It's just a shame it was so damn expensive and as a result, never had a chance to ever catch on or see any real success.
Kent
I’d never heard of these boxes of blue madness. Stunning ‘80s weirdness, for sure! I’m gonna have to read this twice.

Thanks for sharing.
CosmicFlight
Wow love
jonne74
I was half expecting, half hoping all this was leading up to a failed and abandoned ipad project.
mmp
I definitely had the Hotz for this back in the day, but couldn’t afford it. It’s amazing that you found these. Have a blast!
deltaphoenix
WOW, that's super cool.
chachi
that countach print!! Rockin' Banana!
mome rath
chachi wrote:
that countach print!! Rockin' Banana!


i knowwwww

it's cooler than mine cry
Synth Con Meo
Thanks for sharing this, I also have never heard of this before. In the first video from 2008 with Jimmy playing it I really thought it was a large iPad type of interface. I thought WOW that is pretty impressive with pressure sensitivity on a screen way back then. But when I saw your pictures of the units you got ahold of I could then see it was more of a Membrane type setup which made more sense for the period it was manufacture.

Thanks again


Synth Con Meo

<RIP> Kibou
rowsbywoof
That thing is super cool. Really ahead of its time. Agree that it is a shame Atari couldn't realize that tech in a smaller/cheaper form back in the 80s. It probably would have really taken off if the marketing and price had been a little different. Crazy to see this today and hear it's still pretty damn good, though.
brokensolderingiron
MINDTHREAT wrote:
Greetings everyone!
.


Thats an interesting controller! I newer seen one before! Its also a very good reminder that "touch stuff" was indeed thought of in the 70-80 ies!

Here is nuttcrack dude, lol'ing a Hotz! hihi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6bcnfpLI-I


FleetWood on a Hotz!
Paranormal Patroler
Wow, what a find! Thank you for sharing this.
r1n9o
Mind blown. I thought I knew everything Atari. Humbled and jealous. Congrats, but most of all, thank you for documenting. That dual stand and lambo poster satisfies a dream I didn’t know I had until now.
ryangaston
So sick, glad you were able to get your hands on these! Congratulations and awesome finds Rockin' Banana!
rude66
Excellent, good to see these are still usable. I was editor for an Atari magazine in the late 80's and 90's. The guy who ran the magazine bought Atari Netherlands' distributor stock when they went bankrupt or withdrew from the market, and suddenly my office was full of returned/broken STacy's, STbooks, hard disks, and other crazy shit, among which was also a (non working) large Hotz box. Most stuff was eventually traded/ sold off through the magazine, no idea whatever happened to the blue monster. but it sat in the basement for many years.. I thought about buying it but i was much more into analogue synths in the mid 90's. would be super cool to have one now though!
3hands
What an amazing history lesson.

I had no idea these things existed.

Thank you so much for sharing!
estin
Best new poster addition to Muffs ever. Very cool Guinness ftw!
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