Sad news that Alan R Pearlman, founder of ARP Instruments Inc passed away peacefully yesterday (January 6th 2019) aged 93, after a long illness.
A talented electronics engineer, Alan became fascinated by electricity after being told not to touch the electrical outlet as a child. Being the inquisitive type, he stuck a knitting needle in the socket and was blown across the room (thanks goodness for 110v!) - the story goes that he thought to himself "If electricity can do that to me, what else can it do?" and he was hooked.
Alan worked for NASA, designing amplifiers for the Gemini and Apollo programs in the 1960s, founding the company Nexus Research Laboratory
After selling this company, Alan turned his attention towards electronic musical instruments, being a fan of early electronic music such as Silver Apples of the Moon, and aware that the industry needed a pitch stable oscillator, Alan founded ARP Instruments Inc in 1969 (ARP was his childhood nickname). ARP were among the first companies to design synthesizers for mass production, a pioneer of the time together with RA Moog and Don Buchla. With the ARP 2002 (1970) which then developed into the legendary ARP 2500 and then of course the 2600 and Odyssey which sold in significant numbers.
As with many of the pioneering electronic instrument designers, the company suffered from some bad business situations, with ARP going into liquidation in 1981 after underestimating demand for the ARP AVATAR Guitar synth, leaving the Pearlman family with heavy financial losses. However ARP ony existed for 11 or so years and this represented only a small part of his life. He was a complex character - also an accomplished painter and he played the piano too (the morning of his death he played, even though he was unable to talk).
His ripe old age was actually not something he expected, both his father and grandfather dying from heart related illness quite young. To counter this, when Alan reached his 40s, he took up marathon running, at which he got pretty good and clearly it worked!
Alan's passing is of course sad news, but there's no denying, with his work as an engineer and through ARP instruments, he was a major influence on generations of musicians and leaves an impressive legacy.
Our condolences go out to his friends and family.