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Stylophone

David Bowie may have used this instrument for one note on Space Oddity and Chicory Tip sounded like they had the mains-powered deluxe model on Son Of My Father, but this forerunner to home keyboards didn’t last too long, despite celebrity endorsement from Rolf Harris.

On the introductory Flexi disk record that came with the Stylophone, Rolf introduced us to its many sounds (Normal AND Vibrato) and to a Stylophone orchestra he had formed that produced a catchy, up-tempo version of A Whiter Shade of Pale.

The B-side of the disc also featured advertising blurb for the Super Stylophone. The Super Stylophone could do lot’s of different sounds and also had a larger scale.

The idea was to introduce kids to music.

The reality, in most cases, was that after a while you got bored with reading the “How to Learn Scales” and began experimenting with switching the power off and on between notes or placing the pen halfway down your tongue and touching the keyboard with the tip of your tongue to make noises which resembled a duck breaking wind.

Then there was the 350S – with fake wood grain and everything. It had two styli (styluses?) and ran off two of those huge old EverReady “doorstop” batteries that you just don’t seem to see any more. . .

Stylophones were extremely expensive at the time and parents bemoaned having to spend the equivalent of two months wages on these electronic audio torture devices.