Few electronic musical instruments are as iconic as Roland’s TR-808, so it seems entirely appropriate that this is one of the latest products to be inducted into the NAMM TECnology Hall of Fame.
You might ask why it took so long - is the 808 any less notable than Line 6’s POD, which has been in the Hall of Fame since 2018? - but at least Roland’s classic drum machine has now taken its rightful place.
Commenting on the induction, this year’s judging panel said: “Roland’s TR-808 programmable drum machine became part of the foundation of music movements in hip-hop, rap and electronica. And although made in 1980 - almost 40 years ago - the once $1,200 TR-808 remains a highly-prized studio tool today, with working units valued in the $4,000 range.”
The 808 has transcended the music production world to become a cultural symbol, having been referenced in songs, album titles and band names. If you want an 808 today, Roland offers both a digital hardware emulation, the TR-08, and a plugin version on the Roland Cloud. Non-official reboots include Behringer’s RD-8 and D16’s Nepheton.