Yaking Cat Music Studios
The OFFICIAL Cameron Jones Synclavier Digital sing-along page



 
 
 

This is the most exciting time, folks.  Cameron Jones, part owner of Synclavier Digital Corporation has graciously taken the time to provide this information.

These are HIS words.  I really didn't know what to do with all this information at first, so I decided to create a page that is pure Cameron.

Enjoy and learn!!!

....go back to main page


 
Cameron speaks: Synclavier Digital P.R.
Membership ASIO Press Release.pdf
Failed Products Digital STM Brochure.pdf
N.E.D. Digital Guitar OMS Press Release.pdf
XPL Sync PowerPC 2.0.pdf
Marble Desks Sync Power PC Brochure.pdf
Synclavier Digital - taking the Synclavier into the future! Syncl Digital Press Release.pdf
*Download Adobe Acrobat*

 
 
 
 
 


9-24-99

Hi Brandon!

My name is Cameron Jones and I would like to become a member of your web
site.

I have been busy writing software for the last few years and I am only now
getting around to looking at your web site. It looks neat and I look
forward to browsing some more.

I just looked at your "History" section, and I noticed that you thought
"Synclavier® Digital" made people confused. Good point! It all happened
really quickly last June, and I'm sorry I didn't do a better job about
getting out the story. I think it's all really good stuff, and I will
e-mail the details to you shortly...

Anyways, how do I join???

Thanks!

Cameron Jones

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9-24-99

Hi Brandon!

I enjoyed your "failed product" page immensely!

It's amazing to think about, but I was actually there observing the failures
close at hand at the time. Wow!!!

By the way, your description of the "Fostex Foundation" is misleading and
perhaps (dare I say?) inaccurate. May I fill in the details??

In the late 1980's New England Digital was working on a lower-cost
direct-to-disk that was (internally) known as the "Audiola". The R&D group
was working on it when the company failed.

Fostex never acquired or used any N.E.D. software or hardware after N.E.D.
closed. Instead, they offered us humble software engineers a job to help
ease the pain of N.E.D's management fucking things up so badly. Fostex
asked the group to design a hard disk recorder which was delivered
more-or-less on time and on budget. From an engineering point of view, it
was quite a success.

So, I don't think it's correct to categorize the "Fostex Foundation" as
"N.E.D.'s answer to Sonic Solutions and ProTools". The Fostex Foundation
was an entirely new product that was developed from scratch by a group
(almost 28 of us) of ex-N.E.D. hardware and software engineers. The product
was specified by a group at Fostex that, everyone admits, missed the target
by a long shot. The Fostex Foundation, however, did work quite well for
what it was. It's HUI is a real joy to use, especially for things like
dialog editing.

By the way, the whole product specification process is a very difficult one
and I have seen both good and bad examples of it over the years. Sometimes
the product is a success, and sometimes it is not.

My own vote for the biggest flop at N.E.D. was the D.E.S.C. Wow, what a
bomb!!!!

Hope this helps!

Cameron Jones

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9-24-99

Hi again!

I also read with interest your experience with N.E.D's digital guitar. I
must admit I was quite surprised, since I always found it to work reasonably
well.

Let me fill you in a little bit on my background. My first instrument was
guitar. I graduated to electric bass, and then upright bass early on. I
actually went to music school (the School of Music at Indiana University,
Bloomington) where I studied bass with Stuart Sankey for two years. I won
an audition with the professional orchestra in Evansville, Indiana where I
played as a section bassist for two years.

So I have some string chops. Not a lot, but some.

Your statement "It has the WORST tracking of any synth-guitar I have ever
used" may very well be true. I have never played any other one guitar
interface so I have nothing to compare it to.

But I do know that in many cases, if the guitar is well set up with good
strings, many of the Synclavier® timbres played extremely well on the unit. 
It was tricky to use, and I implemented a couple of transient filters in
software to help give it a really good response.

Hey, it's a moot point. If it works for some people, that's great. I
suspect that a DSP-based pitch tracking device could be developed today that
could work superbly. For 1984, the N.E.D. one was guite innovative.

Keep up the good work!

Cameron Jones

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9-24-99

Hi yet again!

I can fill you in with ad-nauseum details about the XPL compiler if you
would like.

By the way, do people find that stuff interesting???

XPL was a language developed in the late 1960's I believe at McGill
university. It was billed as a language to write compilers in. The book
published about it was called "A Compiler Generator".

I first came accross XPL in 1973 in a version that was implemented on the
Dartmouth Timesharing System called DXPL. It was one of the very first
'structured' programming languages and was way ahead of either languages
like BASIC or assembly language which were the alternatives at the time.

Using DXPL I wrote an XPL compiler for the Data General computers in 1974. 
Actually, much of the work was done by David Pearson, who should get the
credit for doing much of the work.

When Sydney and I developed a 16-bit processor card in 1975 (pre-N.E.D.), I
modified the Data General XPL compiler to emit object code for our that
processor. The rest, shall we say, is history.

The ABLE computers were N.E.D's first product. It was really one of the
first 'personal' computers ever developed. We sold a bundle of them for
academic data-collection applications.

I really don't remember whether ABLE was an anacronym, or just a trade name.
It's predecessor was called 'BELLVUE' which stood for 'Busses Enganged in
Lightening the Load of Various Underpaid Educators'. Sydney was great with
acronyms, so I'll refer you to him in case his memory is any better than my
own.

Yes, I suspect the "PL" of "XPL" stood for programming language. I always
took the X to be "experimental", but I really never read the book.

The ABLE computers were definitely not named after a mathmetician named
Abel.

Enjoy!

Cameron Jones

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9-24-99

"Proceeds from machine sales went directly into marble desks in the
world-wide offices of NED. Gotta look good!"

Although technically inacurate, your statement does portray the 'top-heavy'
structure at N.E.D. in the late 1980's.

There were no marble desks. I bought my own wooden desk at an auction in
about 1977 and used it for almost a decade. Towards the end there were some
fancy conference tables, but none of marble.

There was about a 5 year period from 1976 to 1981 where we had barely enough
money for potato chips. I remember those days quite well since I was both
the treasurer and the only programmer. I do think the opulence factor
blossomed after the third time the company raised money which was 1987.

Enjoy!

Cameron Jones

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9-24-99

Hi Brandon!

I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to assuage your confusion about
"Synclavier Digital". Please let me explain the recent history of the
Synclavier® and please ask me for any more information that you would like.

------------------------------------
A brief history of myself:

I first met Sydney Alonso in 1972 when I was a college student. The school
I was at offered me a job for the summer programming their large
time-sharing computer. The goal was to develop software that would let the
computer make beeps and whistles with which to compose electronic music. 
And also to help students learn ear-training.

We worked all summer. We made beeps and whoops. People (at the college)
like it so they offered my a job for the following year.

Vamp until ready. That is, repeat the whole scenario about 4 times with
different computers over 4 years. OK. I graduate from college (amazing in
itself...). Either I walk away from 4 years of work, or I start a business.
So I start a business.

We sell computers. Then a commercial version of the synthesizer. 1979 we
raise a little bit of money, then, voila, Synclavier® II.

Still just me and my pal. Now its up to 7 years of work.

We expand. FM Synthesis. Analysis/Resynthesis. Polyphonic Sampling. 
Direct-to-Disk. Most of it worked, some of it was exciting, a bunch of
users made hit records. Big hit records.

Me, I'm sick of board-of-directors meetings arguing over little stuff
(actually it was the cigarette smoke that totally popped my fuse). So I go
back to music school and get an orchestra job for a while. Play the bass. 
Tchaikovsky; Mahler; Brahms...

OK. I get a call. "Cameron we need you...". "How badly?" "Badly..."

So I go back to work. Big business tycoons running the company. Well, they
must be experts I say, so I won't try to argue with them and will just write
software. I hear lots about "intellectual property". "Going public". 
"Bridge financing".

I come in one day and there's a padlock on the door. Turns out they
mortgaged the "intellectual property" so I can't touch it any more. Now the
bank owns it. "What" I say? "It's not yours any more" they say. "What?
That's 19 years of my life". "So?" they say.

Ok, I was pissed. You would be too. Real pissed. Like you go to the
Yaking Cat web site and the password's been changed. Zowie.

So Fostex offers me job. I write code for a couple of years. Not exciting
code, but good code. They screwed up, didn't develop the right product, so
I take some time off.

So, 3 years ago S.O.C. folds too. Brian George buys up some of the pieces
and Airworks buys up the rest. So I get ahold of the software again through
Brian. Start fixing bugs and doing releases. Next thing you know I ported
the whole thing to run on the Mac. Airworks loses interest, so I make them
an offer. Next thing you know I own all of the software and the Synclavier®
trademark.

Wow am I pleased. I don't plan to let go of it again, either.

I want to keep the Synclavier® alive. Not for sentimental reasons but
because much of it (some of it?) has true merit as a musical/audio
instrument. It sure beats writing banking software. But if its going to go
anywhere, it has to pay the bills.

So I ask Brian to join me in making it a commercial venture. Keep DEMAS as
is; besides, I don't know the slightest thing about fixing machines.
 

------------------------------------
As accurately as I can possibly make it, here is the official legal
description of Synclavier® Digital Corporation:

"Synclavier® Digital Corporation ("the Company") is a New Hampshire "C"
corporation that was formed on May 20, 1999. The Company was created for
the purpose of acquiring and commercializing the Synclavier®-related
technology originally developed by New England Digital Corporation of White
River Junction, Vermont and Lebanon, New Hampshire. The corporation is
jointly owned by Cameron W. Jones of Salem, Massachusetts ("Jones") and
Brian S. George of Enfield, New Hampshire ("George").

The intellectual properties of the former New England Digital
Corporation were seized by BayBank, N.A. on June 21, 1992 when that company
defaulted on a US $6,000,000.00 loan from BayBank. Shortly thereafter,
BayBank sold the intellectual properties to SOC Associates, L.P., of
Lebanon, New Hampshire. SOC Associates operated as "The Synclavier®
Company" for 3 years, but was ultimately unable to pay BayBanks for the
seized assets. Accordingly, BayBank again stepped in as Secured Party and
seized the assets for a second time in late 1995.

On March 27th 1996, BayBanks, N.A., acting as the Secured Party, divided
the intellectual properties into its hardware and software components which
were sold separately to DEMAS, Inc. of Enfield, New Hampshire (hardware),
and AirWorks Media Services, Ltd. of Alberta, Canada (software).
Simultaneously, DEMAS, Inc. was granted a license from Airworks Media
Services, Ltd. to freely develop and commercialize new software for the
Synclavier® customer base. DEMAS, Inc., a New Hampshire "S" Corporation
owned by George, uses the hardware intellectual properties in the operation
of its Synclavier® service and repair operation based in Enfield, New
Hampshire. AirWorks Media Services, Ltd. extracted the Synclavier® Sound
Library and the "S/Link" software package from the intellectual properties
purchased from BayBank and began offering those components for sale on their
own merit.

On May 12, 1998, AirWorks Media Incorporated, successor in interest to
Airworks Media Services, Ltd., sold the software intellectual properties of
the former New England Digital Corporation (exclusive of the Synclavier®
Sound Library and the S/Link software package) to Cameron W. Jones DBA Salem
Technology Associates in a cash transaction."
 

------------------------------------
So it's two guys from New England with a pick-up full of tools and a dream. 
A big pick-up. Lot's of tools and spare parts and intellectual property. A
big dream. Like, the Synclavier® isn't dead, it just needs a good dusting. 
But it also needs a business plan, and that's where the above text came
from. It needs a product, a marketing program and all the other
accoutrements of a small business, just like yours does. But it doesn't
need a banker. An investor, maybe, but not a banker. And, yes, luck. Lots
of it.

OK. Any business needs publicity. I don't expect you to post our press
releases on your web site, because I understand your desire to be an
independent Syncla-user guru. Not a company spokesman. In any case, the
"press releases" are 100.0% my own and are as true and honest as I can make
them. You might enjoy them, and, if you read them, you will be as up to
date as any one on the history of the Synclavier®.

Thanks for taking time to read this.

Cameron W. Jones
Synclavier® Digital Corporation

His epitaph: "Yup, the bugs were mine, but so were the features..."

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