The Shape of Things That Hum is a series of 11-minute short documentaries about different electronic instruments. It goes through a bunch of classics, most I recognize the sound easily but never knew the name or the story. Here’s the proper order:

  1. Minimoog, the grand-daddy analog synth of them all
  2. Vocoder, making a voice sound like a synth
  3. Roland DX-7, the first proper digital synth
  4. Roland TR-808, early drum machine
  5. Roland 303, a sort of bass synthesizer
  6. Various subjects
  7. Akai Sampler

The whole thing was first broadcast in 2001, in Britain, maybe Channel 4? I’m not sure. In any case it seems to have been more or less ignored, and it’s definitely a sort of niche appeal subject. At the moment it seems like youtube/google video is the only source, but let’s hope that someone out there will make a torrent with proper quality at some point.

Here’s a link to all of the episodes, the best quality I could find. Click on “More from this user” to see them all. Or just google for the title if you can’t find it there.