Movement MCS Drum Computer

Movement MCS Drum Computer Image

The Drum Computer (or Percussion Computer) from Movement Computer Systems is a very rare British made drum machine circa 1981. It is estimated that only 30 or so units were produced. It combines analog synthesized drum sounds (Simmons style) and digital 8-bit sampled drum sounds (LinnDrum style). There are seven voice cards, each with two drum voices, for a total of 14 drum voices. Each drum voice can be switched between either the analog (syn) or digital (real) mode and has its own Volume and Pitch-Sustain control knobs.

Its most obvious and unique feature is the computer-like interface. It is used to facilitate graphic editing of the sequencing of drum patterns, with data displayed on a monochrome CRT display (video can be output to an external monitor via connections on the rear). Sequenced patterns can be chained together into Songs. It does not offer graphic drum sample editing or synthesis. New drum sounds can not be sampled in to it either as it does not appear to have audio inputs. It does, however, have extensive outputs including stereo out, individual outputs for each voice, individual Trigger inputs and outputs for each voice, Drum sync in and out, clock output, and cassette in and out for saving data to tape.

Two models are known to exist: the MK1 which may have been a two-piece unit in which the monitor was separate from the rest of the machine, and the MK2 (released in 1983) which integrated the CRT monitor and had an orange (or black) case. In 1984, the MIDI specification was added to the MK2, along with an additional 8-track sequencer, battery backed memory and a floppy disk drive.

Its most prominent user was David Stewart of the Eurythmics on tracks such as "Sweet Dreams". However, it never sounded as good as the competition surrounding it from Linn, Simmons and Oberheim and the product never really took off. It has been owned/used by The Eurythmics, Phil Collins, The Thompson Twins, Human League, Thomas Dolby, Kajagoogoo, Japan, Willian Orbit, Chemical Brothers and Vince Clarke. Supposedly, some of these artists used the same machine as it passed from one group to the next.

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10 Visitor comments
February 5, 2013 @ 8:31 am
The Movement did sound a bit crap but that was part of its charm - it was a definite contrast to the Linndrum and TR-808 which were, I think, the only viable alternatives at the time. Dave Stewart liked it in part becuase he was intrigued by it being, essentially, a computer on which he could "also do his accounts" which seemed a very modern idea at the time, and it was used on most of the tracks on the 'Sweet Dreams' album until Robert Crash arrived with one of the first Oberheim DMX machines, after which I don't think Dave used the Movement again.
Big Chris
February 2, 2013 @ 10:51 am
The only other product to bear the Movement brand name was the Japanese made "Sequence Memory Rhythm" drum machine that looks and sounds remarkably like the Soundmaster SR88. I'd guess it was something Movement commissioned as a way of making a bit more money, since the Drum Computer was not a commercial success. The main business of Movement seems to have been a recording studio - see the article at for details.
Big Chris
February 2, 2013 @ 10:48 am
This was based around a computer kit made by a company called Nascom. Nascoms were unreliable already, but this was made worse in the case of Movement as the whole thing had the build quality of a hastily cobbled together prototype. It also had incredibly weak sounds, and rumour has it that Dave Stewart only used one for the novelty value since it sounded unlike anything else. Vince Clarke bought one a couple of years ago, having passed up on the chance when they were new, since it couldn't reproduce the same kinds of sounds as an ARP 2600 (see the Synth Brittannia documentary on YouTube).
January 29, 2013 @ 4:36 am
Correction, now that's I've watched the entire video, you can see many shots of the Movement MCS Drum Computer. The band (Genesis) & studio engineers are playing with it & goofing around with it. They even made a smiley face on the monitor, made out of ASCII characters. (& jokingly called themselves "artists") really should post this link, since it's probably the best & most footage of a Movement MCS Drum Computer, that you'll ever see anywhere. E8BD36299C39
January 29, 2013 @ 4:17 am
You can see a Movement MCS Drum Computer in the link below. (Genesis - Making the Mama Album) It's the same one that is in the picture on this page. You get a short, but really nice view of the monitor. t=PL4672E8BD36299C39
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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 14 voices
  • Oscillators - One per voice
  • Samples - 8-bit digital samples
  • Envelope - Sustain
  • Effects - Accent
  • Sequencer - Yes
  • Keyboard - 14 Trigger Keys, QWERTY Keyboard
  • Memory - Yes
  • Control - Drum Sync and Tigger inputs and outputs, MIDI In/Out/Thru (later models)
  • Date Produced - 1981 (MK1), 1983 (MK2)

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