Remember the Hotz Box? To quote Inside Info No 39, concerning a major MIDI development.
“The press release announcing the product said, ”The Hotz Midi Translator presents to its wide range of players a flexible, musical palette that contains all of the correct musical choices at a given point, allowing it’s users the ability to create music without any formal training. ’The HOTZ MIDI TRANSLATOR responds to touch, dynamics and vibrato with subtelty unavailable from conventional keyboard, with no moving parts,a greater speed of playing, greatly increased touch sensitivity and optimized placements and spacing of keys’ says Hotz, creator of the instrument and after whom the product is named.“
The Hotz Box as shown at the NAMM show was powered in part by four Mega 4 computers, and had three keyboard like set ups. I say keyboard like because while the outline of keys were on the boards, they do not have the traditional piano style keys that are depressed. Rather the surface of the instrument is covered with a touch sensitive material. Sections of the keyboard were labeled according to the instrument sounds that were on that bank.“
Well it seems that Jimmy Hotz has decided to go out and market a full size version of his instrument directly to musicians. This instrument will cost over US $5000 and thus will be out of reach of our editor who once wistfully expressed a desire for one. Atari meanwhile hold the rights for a consumer version of the box which presumably would be much cheaper and not require four Mega 4’s. It seems that Atari is quite content to drag the thing out at trade shows rather than get on with making the thing (sounds familiar) and precious little has been heard about it.
As I understand it, the Hotz box relies on specially coded tapes that allow anyone at all to accompany a musical piece. I am not quite sure whether it is totally a MIDI setup, in which case extra MIDI keyboards would be necessary, or the box itself provides the instrumentation along with the tape making accompaning music. To be honest I don’t really know if it uses tapes at all, it could all be on disk, but imagine the kid next door who listens to PE up really loud, doing a delightful accompaniment to a Stravinsky symphony after 5 minutes then I think you will get the picture.
Such a gadget has the ability to revolutionise the way we teach and respond to music, not to mention enourmous profits for Atari, Hotz and the software makers. Add the lure of CDI and there is something big cooking.
So there it is, To all of those who were wondering whatever happened to the Hotz box, I can say that if you desperately want one speak to Jimmy and cash yourself up, or wait............. for Atari to get it together.