Fairlight CMI I


First model of the Fairlight CMI, marketed in 1979.
CMI stands for Computer Musical Instrument.
It is based on the architecture of the Fairlight Qasar prototype, and it has most of its features:

  • Dual 8-bit 1 Mhz Motorola 6800 processors
  • 8 channel cards with 16Kb waveform RAM = 8 voices of polyphony
  • 64Kb system RAM (QDOS)
  • Two 8″ floppy drives: double sides, simple density disk (512Kb)
  • 6 octave keyboard, featuring key velocity sensitivity, with 3 sliders and 2 switch buttons assignable to various parameters (vibrato, volume, sustain … )
    A second keyboard is proposed as an option (without the control buttons)
  • Monochrome monitor which was used to visualise waveforms and to edit parameters: resolution was 512 x 256 pixels
  • Alphanumeric keyboard
  • Lightpen
  • Additive synthesis with FFT (Fast Fourier Transform)
  • 24Khz 8-bit sampling
  • Sequencer (Page C)
  • MCL: Musical Composition Language, created by Peter Vogel, which made the CMI I the first machine using this type of language. It was soon followed by the Synclavier.
Layout on the CMI-25 motherboard
ID              DESCRIPTIONSLOT    
CMI-02Master card: control of 8 channel cards, ADC sampling, timerfunctions for sequencer and MCL1
CMI-01Channel card with 16Kb waveform RAM
CEM3320 Filter
3 to 10
Q045Graphics card9
CMI-07Analog interface card (optional): 16 inputs/outputs to control analog synthesizers11
Q148Lightpen card12
Q09664Kb system RAM card13 to 15
Q032Processor control card16
Q026Dual 6800 processors17
QFC2Floppy disk controller18
Q02516Kb video graphics RAM20