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Remembering the time Kraftwerk made a calculator to promote their new single

Everyone loves a good old blast from the past. And boy have we got some eighties nostalgia from the legendary Kraftwerk calculator.

Kraftwerk began as part of West Germany’s experimental krautrock scene in the early 1970s before fully embracing electronic instrumentation, including synthesizers, drum machines, vocoders, and custom-made musical instruments. Widely considered as innovators and pioneers of electronic music, they were among the first successful acts to popularize the genre.

Not only did Kraftwerk create some incredible and revolutionary music, but they also had some pretty impressive marketing strategies too!

Promoting a new single can be hard work, a process which has led to some unique techniques over the years. We have seen Arcade Fire’s cryptic graffiti, Lady Gaga’s nude statues and even Nine Inch Nails’ alternate reality game.

However, the Kraftwerk calculator, perhaps unsurprisingly, might just have been at the forefront of interesting promotional techniques, all the way back in 1981.

To promote their newest single, Pocket Calculator, which was taken from their eighth studio album Computer World, a genius idea from the electronic pioneers was fashioned. Fans of the band will argue that even the title of the record proves just how forward thinking they were, let alone what they did to promote the track.

Working alongside Casio, the German outfit issued their very own Kraftwerk version of the company’s VL-80 model, adapting the calculator in order to make it double up as musical synthesizer.

Funnily enough, it was actually the Casio fx-501P programmable calculator which proved to be the item that appeared on the list of instruments used in the recording of the album.

As the music industry becomes more and more competitive, artists are coming up with new and exciting ways to promote their music and compel their fans, with viral social media marketing being at the forefront of preferred techniques. Maybe today’s artists should take a lesson from the Kraftwerk calculator because we love this nifty little gadget!

Watch the Kraftwerk calculator synthesiser being used below!

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June 27, 2019