Skip to main content

Synth pioneer, Tom Oberheim, celebrated with new documentary: Watch

His innovations can be heard on the music of artists including Prince, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder.


A new documentary explores the life and legacy of synth pioneer Tom Oberheim.

Produced by GForce Software, the 37-minute film 'Bright Sparks: Tom Oberheim' delves into the groundbreaking career of the American audio and electronics engineer. The inventor, instrument designer, and electronic music pioneer has been heavily involved in the electronic music industry for over half a century, from the emerging scene of the 1960s up until the present day. Among the artists whose work was defined by the innovations of the 85-year-old include Prince, Herbie Hancock, and Stevie Wonder.

Among Oberheim's many innovations - spearheaded by his company Oberheim Electronics since the late-1960s - include digital sequencers, effects pedals, and the Synthesizer Expander Module (SEM), a unique synthesizer module originally designed to accompany ARPs and Moogs.

As well as producing the first digital patch memory story system for synths, The Programmer, Oberheim also created devices including the DMC, one of the first digital drum machines. 

Produced by Dave Spiers of GForce, filmed by Sam Graydon, and featuring ex-Oberheim engineer Marcus Ryle, the documentary can be watched for free via YouTube below.