Remember back in 1982 when Sony released the Chordmachine - a boombox that was also a ‘groovebox’?

There was a lot of great new tech released in 1982 - the CD player, the Commodore 64, the Atari 5200 - but there was also, it turns out, the Sony Chordmachine.

Available only in Japan, this bizarre hybrid of boombox and groovebox has been plucked from obscurity by YouTuber Techmoan, who’s taken a deep dive into its features and inner workings.

With a clamshell design, the top section is devoted to a pair of speakers. The bottom section of this strange device has a cassette deck and radio on the left-hand-side, but it’s over to the right that things start to get weirdly interesting.

This is because the Chordmachine also has a preset rhythm player and 12 pads that can be used to play notes and chords. Your performances can be recorded to tape, and you can also plug in a mic and guitar.

As Techmoan says, the end result feels like neither one thing or the other, and we’re not surprised that the Chordmachine didn’t achieve Walkman levels of popularity. With old-school tech all the rage, though, maybe there’s still time for a revival…

Sony Chordmachine

(Image credit: Techmoan)
Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects… image
Get over 70 FREE plugin instruments and effects…
…with the latest issue of Computer Music magazine