The physical geography of the Ukraine.

Short version: In 1994, Ukraine agreed to remove/ destroy nuclear weapons from/ in its territory, and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In return, Russia, Britain and USA agreed to provide Ukraine with security assurances. All parties agreed to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine. France and China also provided Ukraine with similar, but lesser, assurances. Despite this Russia was able to re-annex Crimea in 2014, without anything more than a murmur of discontent, and attempted to annex the entire Ukraine in 2022, which has met a more violent and, from a Russian perspective, unexpected opposition.

Long version: On 1994-12-05, four parties signed what is known as the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, containing a preamble and six paragraphs. It reads as follows:

The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear-weapon State,

Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,

Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the Cold War, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces.

Confirm the following:

1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.

4. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

5. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.

6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments. — Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.France and China’s commitments

[End of memorandum]

France gave Ukraine assurances similar to the Budapest Memorandum, but without the provisions found in paragraphs 4 and 6.

China’s pledge is dated 1994-12-04 and reads:

The Chinese Government welcomes the decision of Ukraine to destroy all nuclear weapons on its territory, and commends the approval by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on November 16 of Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State. China fully understands the desire of Ukraine for security assurance. The Chinese Government has always maintained that under no circumstances will China use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States or nuclear-weapon-free zones. This principled position also applies to Ukraine. The Chinese Government urges all other nuclear-weapon States to undertake the same commitment, so as to enhance the security of all non-nuclear-weapon States, including Ukraine.

The Chinese Government has constantly opposed the practice of exerting political, economic or other pressure in international relations. It maintains that disputes and differences should be settled peacefully through consultations on an equal footing. Abiding by the spirit of the Sino-Ukrainian joint communiqué of January 4, 1992 on the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Sino-Ukrainian joint communiqué of October 31, 1992 and the Sino-Ukrainian joint statement of September 6, 1994, China recognizes and respects the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and stands ready to further develop friendly and cooperative Sino-Ukraine relations on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.

[End of pledge]

The above documents were brought to my attention by Alasdair McLellan. It is clear from them that Russia, UK, USA, France and China have all agreed to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russian propaganda claims that the country it agreed to respect is not the same as today’s nazified (their term) Ukraine, invalidating the memorandum.

Crimea has a complex history. Simplified, it was Greek from 5th century BC to 47 BC; culturally Greek, politically Roman from 47 BC to 330 AD; Byzantine from 330 AD to 1204 AD; part of the Empire of Trebizond from 1204 AD to 1461 AD; part of the independent Principality of Theodoro from 1461 AD to 1475 AD. After that there was a great deal of turmoil with various groups asserting control over parts of the region, but with the Ottoman empire generally winning out until 1774, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated by Russia’s Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796). Crimea was annexed by Russia in 1783.

On 1954-02-19, the Crimean region was transferred to the Ukrainian SSR. Sixty years later, and following the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity = Революція гідності, (Revoliutsiia hidnosti) = Maidan Revolution, Russia re-annexed Crimea on 2014-02-21. On 2014-03-24, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a G7 Nuclear Security Summit, at The Hague, requested a partial suspension of Russian membership from the G8 due to Russia’s breach of the Budapest Memorandum, stating that Ukraine had given up its nuclear weapons “on the basis of an explicit Russian assurance of its territorial integrity.” At that time, nothing much more happened in terms of opposition to Russia’s actions.

Eight years later on 2022-02-21 Russia officially recognised the two self-proclaimed separatist states in the Donbas, and openly sent troops into these territories. On 2022-02-24, Russia invaded Ukraine.


At the moment the world is having to contend with a war, potentially with a duration lasting years, rather than months. There is also a threat of nuclear war, although it is difficult to know how real this threat is. It is also difficult to find out what is happening in this war due to disinformation. I find that the most valuable insights come from YouTube vlogger and Australian: Perun.

Young and not so young people are dying and being maimed on the battlefield, in relatively large numbers on both sides. War crimes are being committed. Ukrainian civilians are being killed, raped, intimidated, threatened. In addition to physical injuries there is also the trauma. People are having their possessions stolen, their homes, cultural heritage, public and commercial buildings destroyed, along with Ukraine’s infrastructure. Undoubtedly, the grain-producing fields are being poisoned with toxic chemicals from armaments. Millions of refugees are fleeing. Far too many lives are being destroyed.

In Russia, sanctions are having their effects. Basic foodstuffs are becoming increasingly difficult to find. An increasing shortage of parts are making white goods, aircraft and vehicles inoperable. There are inexplicable explosions in refineries, and other chemical plants.

Mined Black Sea ports, and a Russian imposed blockade on grain shipments, are leaving the poor of the world threatened with hunger. There are numerous sanctions being placed on Russia, by the European Union (EU), other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and others. Lithuania is now blocking goods subject to EU sanctions from using the Suwalki corridor, to Kaliningrad.

Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have applied for membership in the EU, and the European Council has given candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine on 2022-06-23. Finland and Sweden have applied to join NATO. Both Georgia and Ukraine would like to join. The Moldova constitution states that Moldova is a neutral country, and thus it has not applied nor is eligible to apply for NATO membership.

Russia has become an unreliable provider of hydrocarbons to western countries. Fuel prices are rising. This means that other sources will have to be used. There is increased use of nuclear energy, as well as increased use of coal, especially in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. German industrialists are worried that industry production will fall, as the country may choose to heat houses, rather than provide electrical power to factories.

Currently, there is considerable talk about inflation. In the past has been caused by increased demand. The traditional cure, increased interest rates, encourages borrowers to reduce spending, in order to pay interest on their loans. This reduces demand. Now, however, inflation is not being caused by demand side challenges, but by problems with supply. After two years of Covid, and months of war, manufacturers are not able to provide the goods and services consumers want. By increasing interest rates, governments are using the wrong medicine, unfortunately. Increased interest rates will not solve the current problem with inflation.

North American and European governments have believed that globalization, and an increase in the world’s standard of living, would result in a democratization of the world. This has not happened. Instead, North American and European countries must undertake investments in their own regions, so that they are not subject to being exploited by other regions of the world. Judicious investments in production could solve many of the inflationary problems being experienced.

On a personal level

I have now vetoed the purchase of all new Russian made products. This is expressed in this way, so that we keep the 7 x 50 binoculars, that we have owned for more than forty years.

Before this latest war, Alasdair and I had considered buying a Discovery TX-500 amateur radio covering 160 to 6 meter bands, QRP = low power (10 W). At the time, it was priced at about NOK 10 000 at its Swedish distributor. It does not appear to be available, as this post is written. It is made by the Russian company, Lab 599. Instead, I bought a Red Pitaya from Alasdair, made in Slovania, for NOK 8 000. It is a simpler and less robust radio, but offers many other features for use as an electronic instrument. This sale has allowed Alasdair to buy an Elecraft KX3 radio, made in Watsonville, California, costing in excess of NOK 20 000. While the TX-500 is a good radio, it is inferior to a KX3.

On 2020-08-20, I wrote about the Zetta CM-1 EV, and even sent an email to the Russian manufacturer about obtaining such a vehicle. No reply was received. Rest assured, there will be no Russian or even Chinese EVs purchased for this household. Any future EV will be made in Europe. In fact, it has already been ordered, but details will not be released until it arrives!

There are almost 1.4 million Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry in Canada, of which 230 000 live in British Columbia. Vancouver and Odessa have been sister cities since 1944. In addition to current Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland (1968 – ), other notable Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry include: musician Randy Bachman (1943 – ); austronaut/ neurologist Robert Bondar (1945 – ); painter/ writer William Kurelek (1927 – 1977); actor Seth Rogen (1982 – ); actor William Shatner (1931 – ); superman creator Joe Shuster (1914 – 1992); model Daria Werbowy (1983 – ) and an uncountable numbers of ice hockey players, including Wayne Gretzky (1961 – ).

Holy Eucharist Cathedral, Ukrainian Catholic church located at 501 – Fourth Avenue, New Westminster. Canada. Canada. There are almost 1.4 million Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry in Canada, of which 230 000 live in British Columbia.

Holy Eucharist Cathedral, owned by the Ukrainian Catholic church is located at 501 – Fourth Avenue, New Westminster. Canada. This is a six minute/ 500 meter walk away from my childhood home, on Ash Street, although the cathedral did not exist there at that time.

The Charm of Roxy Music

These are the Roxy Music sleeves. The first, top left, was released fifty years ago 1972-06-16.

This weblog post is being published on the fiftieth anniversary of Roxy Music‘s debut album, Roxy Music, released 1972-06-16. Wikipedia comments, “The opening track, “Re-Make/Re-Model”, has been labelled a postmodernist pastiche, featuring solos by each member of the band echoing various touchstones of Western music[.]”

It was Andrea, my boss, who introduced me to Roxy Music, at a party, in early 1973.

Bryan Ferry (1945 – ) lead singer of Roxy Music, had his origins in County Durham, at Washington. The world may never have heard of him if he had not lost his job as a ceramics teacher at a girls’ school, 1970-11, for playing too much music in the classroom. This encouraged him to start his own band, despite a lack of musical talent. Fortunately, he cooperated with others who did have talent.

Membership in the band was fluid for the first few years of its existence, but had stabilized by the time the first album was made with Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno (1948 – ), Andy Mackay (1946- ), Phil Manzanera (1951 – ), Paul Thompson (1951 – ) and Graham Simpson (1943 – 2012). Other musicians participated on some tracks.

One vague comment I remember hearing about Roxy Music, was that it was sax driven. This is undoubtedly a minority view. If one looks at almost any Roxy Music album sleeve, Avalon excepted, one will discover supporting evidence that it was sex driven. For those still in denial, sax probably refers to Andy Mackay, who played oboe and saxophone in the band. He was also the owner of a synth, an Electronic Music Studios (EMS) Voltage Controlled Studio, version #3 (VCS3).

The band’s greatest non-musician was Brian Eno, who was initially engaged as a technical advisor. His duties included operating the synthesizer and a Revox reel-to-reel tape machine. What impressed me the most, was Eno’s use of the EMS synth. My opinion, was that at least initially, Roxy Music was synth driven. It became less so, as Eno’s influence waned, and Ferry’s waxed, unfortunately.

The band signed with EG Mangement. However, since the music proposed for the first album was unexceptional, they almost rejected it. What changed their mind was the sleeve artwork. This debut album sleeve featured Kari-Ann Moller (1947 – ), who was born in Arendal, in south-east Norway to a Norwegian airman and a British mother who took her to live in Cornwall.. The artwork also involved fashion designer Antony Price (1945 – ), photographer Karl Stoecker, art director Nicholas Deville (1944 – ) and a public relations specialist Simon Puxley. Prior to this, Moller appeared in an episode of the German detective series Der Kommissar, Keiner hörte den Schuß (1969). Subsequently, Brian Duffy (1933 – 2010) photographed her, with legs and much of her torso airbrushed away, for the 1973 Pirelli calendar. She also appeared in a film, The Bitch (1979), along side Chris Jagger (1947 – ), with whom she is married.

There is an eclecticism in the music, with a lot of it having movie references, in the same way that Roxy itself relates to movie theatres. 2HB was a tribute to Humphrey Bogart (1899 – 1957), with the line “Here’s looking at you, kid” taken from Casablanca (1942). Chance Meeting references David Lean’s (1908 – 1991) Brief Encounter (1945). The Bob refers to the Battle of Britain (1968), with sound effects simulating gunfire.

The second album, For Your Pleasure (1973), shows Amanda Lear (1939 – ) walking her panther. These early sleeves actually folded out, so that the back turns out to be the left of a photograph, with Brian Ferry posing as the chauffeur of a purple Cadillac.

Stranded (1973), the third album, featured Marilyn Cole (1949 – ), the January 1972 Playmate of the Month, and 1973 Playmate of the Year. By this time Eno was no longer with the band. Eddie Jobson (1955 – ) was classically trained and an accomplished musician. He played keyboard and electric violin.

Country Life (1974) showed Constanze Karoli and Eveline Grunwald, two German women Ferry had allegedly met in a bar in Portugal, where Ferry had retreated to write lyrics for the album. They are said to have helped him translate a portion of the song Bitter-Sweet into German. This is probably the most controversial Roxy Music album sleeve, for the US market the album was issued with foliage but without models.

At the left of the bottom row is the cover for Siren (1975), that used Jerry Hall (1956 – ) to attract (male) purchasers. I confess to have purchased all five of these albums as LPs, disposing of them in the summer of 1980 before moving to Norway.

By the time Manifesto (1979) appeared, Roxy Music had lost much of its charm. The band consisted of Ferry, Manzanera, Mackay, and Thompson, along with Paul Carrack (1951 – , keyboards), Alan Spenner (1948 – 1991, bass), and Gary Tibbs (1958 – , bass). The album was not a success, critically or popularly. The sleeve seems to be a party scene, with no specific individual model in focus. Flesh & Blood (1980) had Peter Saville (1955 – ) responsible for the cover’s conception, but was photographed by Neil Kirk. The two models on the front sleeve (shown) are Aimee Stephenson (front) and Shelley Mann (behind). A third model, Roslyn Bolton, was shown on the back of the sleeve.

The final album Avalon (1982) featured a smoother sound. It was the band’s most successful studio album. The album sleeve has a photo of Bryan Ferry’s future wife, Lucy Helmore (1959 – 2018). This is undoubtedly the least sensual of all the sleeves. Surprisingly, this allowed listeners to focus more on the music, which received the best critical reviews of all the albums.

Roxy Music was a designer band, creating a specific style that dictated/ dominated their stage presence, music videos, album and single sleeve designs, as well as promotional materials including posters, handbills, cards and badges. One might even want to conclude that even the music, was designed rather than composed, arranged, performed and engineered. I no longer listen to Roxy Music, but I do listen to the music of Brian Eno.

Corrections were made on 2023-06-17 about Kari-Ann Moller. A Guardian article noted that despite her having lived in the United Kingdom for 74 years, she was asked to prove her right to live in Britain. When she returned to Britain from Madiera, 2023-03, she was issued a 3-month tourist visa.

Roy Grønneberg (1947 – 1997)

Roy Grønneberg is perhaps best known for his contributions to the design of the Shetland flag. This weblog post commemorates the 25th anniversary of his death. His body was found in Lerwick Harbour, in the Shetland Islands of Scotland, on Thursday morning, 1997-06-12. It was assumed that he slipped and fell into the sea at Albert Wharf, some time late on Wednesday evening, 1997-06-11.

Roy Grønneberg was born in Drammen, Norway, in 1947. He was the son of Annie Davina Elizabeth (née Spence) and Nils Clausen Grønneberg who had married in Lerwick in 1945. Grønneberg was born with cerebral palsy. In 1951, the family, consisting of the parents and four sons, moved back to Lerwick to give Roy the health care that he needed. After seven years treatment in Strathcathro Hospital, Aberdeen, he attended school in Edinburgh and Lerwick then took a job in the County Treasurer’s office in Lerwick. In the late 1960s he went to Aberdeen Commercial College, then worked in Aberdeen before returning to Shetland in 1973. From the late 1970s Grønneberg owned the Hjaltland Bookshop in Lerwick. He was a director and treasurer of the Shetland Publishing Company. After the bookshop failed, Grønneberg devoted his time to supporting charities such as Oxfam and to causes such as the peace movement. In 1989 he took a job at the Shetland Archives.

Grønneberg was a member of the Scottish Nationalist Party and had a passionate interest in politics as well as in Scottish and Scandinavian affairs. During the 1970s he began to be noted as a writer and activist contributing articles to various Shetland publications. His writing were such that he was appointment to the editorial committee of the Bulletin of Scottish Politics.

Grønneberg had an active interest in Shetland’s political future and in 1968 he successfully moved a resolution on Shetland autonomy at the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference. He was particularly interested in Shetland dialect and how it compared to Scandinavian languages and his papers include several drafts of dialect dictionaries. He authored several pamphlets and articles about Shetland history and politics. Grønneberg was a member of the Shetland Council for Social Service.

The Shetland flag, designed by Roy Grønneberg and Bill Adams in 1969.

Roy Grønneberg and Bill Adams, at the time both students in Aberdeen, decided that it would be a good idea for Shetland to have its own regional flag – not to displace the Union Jack but merely as a community flag to symbolise the islands’ unique history. They decided on the Scottish national colours, blue and white, and the cross that is common to all Scandinavian countries. The resulting white cross against a blue background symbolises Shetland’s links with both Scotland and Denmark.

In 1975, after Zetland County Council (ZCC) and Lerwick Town Council merged into Shetland Islands Council (SIC), Grønneberg wrote to the director of administration pointing out that the ZCC flag was no longer valid. He enclosed the design he and Bill Adams had designed in 1969. SIC responded by forming a five member flag committee chaired by Patrick Regan. After two meetings several designs had emerged, but nothing more happened .

In 1985, Shetland’s tourist officer, Maurice Mullay, visited Sweden as part of a promotional campaign. Asked if Shetland had a regional flag, he remembered the Grønneberg/Adams design. Its Scandinavian association appealed to his Swedish hosts. Two Swedish yachts visited Lerwick in summer 1975, using the Shetland flag as a courtesy flag from their mast-heads. Later that year the flag flew, with those of other islands, to mark Shetland’s participation in the inter-island games held on the Isle of Man.

Shetland’s fishers added urgency to the flag question. They saw a need for a regional flag. This was influenced by mainland fishers, who used the Scottish Saltire as their own regional flag flown from mastheads and painted on shelterdecks.

In 1985-12, SIC decided to hold a postal referendum to choose a design. This took time to organise, and involved relatively high costs to send ballots to 15 900 voters. However, the decision on a flag did not rest with the voting public, or the SIC, but with the Court of Lord Lyon. Many at the time were enthusiastic to get an approved flag, including Scottish Tourist Board chairman, Alan Devereux, who regarded the flag as a great marketing idea.

After almost forty years of unofficial use, the flag was formally granted status by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the heraldic authority of Scotland, on 2005-02-01. The flag commemorates the 500th anniversary of the transfer of the islands from Norway, at the time in the Kalmar Union, to Scotland and the 500 years before that, as part of Norway.

Grønneberg’s writings included: Island Governments: The Experience of Autonomous Island Groups in Northern Europe in Relation to Shetland’s Political Future (1976), a 30 page book, published by Thulepint, and edited by Grønneberg that included contributions by Magnus Magnusson, T.M.Y. Manson, Tom Nairn, Danus Skene, Allan Massie, Jo Grimond , Grace Halcrow, Michael Spens, John Godfrey, James Irvine, Morag McGill and Neal Ascherson; Island Futures: Scottish Devolution and Shetland’s Constitutional Alternatives (1978), a 79 page book, published by Thuleprint, that explored constitutional options for Shetland in the context of Scotland’s first devolution debate and The Shetland Report prepared for Shetland Islands Council by the Nevis Institute. Contributors include Tom Nairn, Neal Ascherson, T. M. Y. Manson, Morag McGill, Allan Massie, Michael Spens, Shetland Islands Council and Jo Grimond MP. A call is made for a Commission to look into the islands’ special circumstances and consideration is given to a special status similar to the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or the Faroes; Hjaltland: Map of Shetland in the Old Norse Language of the Sagas, a map of Shetland’s Norwegian place-names (1991); Jakobsen and Shetland (1981), a biography of the eminent nineteenth-century Faroease philologist Jakob Jakobsen, the first person to apply linguistic principles to research the Scandinavian origins of the Shetland Dialect. Jakobsen compiled a dictionary of the Norn language in Shetland. Gronneberg was instrumental in arranging for a reprint of Jakobsen’s dictionary, credited with helping to rescue the islands’ distinctive dialect from oblivion.

At the time of Grønneberg’s death, Shetland author John Graham, one of Grønneberg’s former teachers, said: ”I’m shattered and saddened by this news. Roy was an extremely likeable character, utterly dedicated to anything he undertook. What everybody admired about him was his courage.”

Grønneberg was unmarried and had lived alone in an apartment in Lerwick since the death of his mother, Annie, a few years before his own. Friends said he had recently been in poor health but remained doggedly independent, struggling up a steep lane every day for lunch at the Norwegian Fishermen’s Mission in Lerwick.

The dialect database that Grønneberg had compiled at the Shetland Archives is of immense value to scholars.

Note: I had wanted to use a photograph of Roy Grønneberg with this post, possibly with the other designer of the flag, Bill Adams. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find one. If anyone has a digital version of such a photo, I would appreciate a copy to append to this document.


This synth is described as a Sequential DSI = Dave Smith Instruments Prophet-10 Rev-4 Synthesizer. It is available new in 2022, and costs about NOK 45 000 delivered to Norway. I will not be buying one.

Dave Smith (1950 – 2022), educated in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, bought a MiniMoog in 1972. In San Francisco, in 1974, he made a hardware sequencer = a hardware device or software program that can record, edit or play back music, using note and other performance information, for himself. Then he made three other sequences, and sold them under the name Sequential Circuits. These four analog sequencers could be used with Moog and ARP synthesizers. In 1975, Sequential Circuits went on to make an unknown number of digital hardware sequencers, and then programmers, similar, but slightly more advanced devices that, can change the settings and other characteristics of a synthesizer. By 1976, aided by John Scott Bowen, these had become the Model 800 Sequencer, and Model 700 Programmer.

In 1977, the Prophet-5 started life as a Prophet-10, a synthesizer with ten voices of polyphony. It was unstable and overheated. This, in turn, made it difficult to tune. To construct a viable product, half of the electronics were removed, resulting in five voices of polyphony. It was renamed the Prophet-5. This machine was jointly designed by Smith and Bowen, with Bowen responsible for the sound design. Later, he created most of the Sequential’s sounds and sequences, and much of the User Interface (UI). The Prophet-5 was the first fully programmable polyphonic synthesizer and the first musical instrument with an embedded microprocessor, and a programmable memory. This allowed users to store sounds and access them instantly. It eliminated the need for a synth to be reprogrammed after even minor experimentation with sound. The Prophet-5 was especially praised for its ability to produce a standard package of familiar sounds. Between 1978 and 1984, about 6 000 units were produced.

After this, additional products were made including the Prophet-600 released in 1982 with a musical instrument digital interface (MIDI). In 1987, Sequential faced financial difficultires. It was purchased by Yamaha, who shut it down in 1989.

Smith then began working for Korg on the Wavestation synthesizer. In 2002, he started Dave Smith Instruments. That same year it released the Evolver synthesizer. In 2008, it released the Prophet ’08, an affordable eight-voice analog synthesizer. In 2015, Yamaha returned the Sequential Circuits brand name to Smith. In 2018 Smith released the Prophet-X, which featured sample playback and digitally controlled oscillators. On the 40th anniversary of the Prophet-5, (2018-08-31) Dave Smith Instruments rebranded as Sequential. Despite the release of a newer version of the Prophet-5 on 2020-09-30, it was announced on 2021-04-27 that Sequential had been acquired by Focusrite, a British audio company known for its audio interfaces.

Finding a suitable Prophet

In the text below, prices are stated in Norwegian kroner (NOK). To aid in conversion 1 CAD = 7.46 NOK; 1 € = 10.12 NOK; 1 USD = 9.45 NOK on 2022-06-04, on the date of this post’s publication.

Selecting a suitable Prophet is dependent on a person’s intentions and wealth. Those with the economic means who want to acquire an investment with extreme growth potential, probably should have bought an original Prophet-5 at least twenty years ago. If they are content with an ostentatious machine to intimidate others, these machines still offer opportunities.

Those a few rungs below on the economic ladder, content with impressing others, may want to consider a model, currently being made, a Sequential Prophet-10 Rev-4 Synth is being produced. The company is now owned by Focusrite. The synth costs about NOK 45 000. Its specifications include the use of some dated, but genuine, components, along with modern replacements, retaining the sound of the original Prophet-5, but with ten voices.

Musicians who simply want the sounds of a Prophet synth can usually obtain these cheaply, by using a clone or a virtual instrument.

One clone is a Behringer Pro-1 (NOK 3 000), a fairly rudamentary synthesizer based on the sounds of a Prophet-5, but with a single voice. It has numerous specifications that only synth fanboys understand or care about. There are claims that Behringer released a sixteen voice Pro-16 in 2021. I have not been able to find any information about it.

In terms of virtual instruments, Bowen worked for Native Instruments, to develop their Pro 5 software synthesizer emulator, released in 1999. It was followed by the Pro 52 in 2000 and the Pro 53 in 2003. He also contributed to Creamware’s Prophet and Prophet Plus emulators in 2003. Arturia released the Prophet V, in 2006. There are also totally free virtual instruments that can do almost the same, but these usually come without any guarantees.

For those more interested in experimentation than reproducing a marketable sound product, attention is directed to the Notes and Volts YouTube channel.

Note: Dave Smith died 2022-05-31.