Engl’s First Amp Ever Was Also the First to Be Digitally Programable

1983 was a good year. Return of the Jedi hit theaters. Kill ‘Em All and Show No Mercy landed in record stores. The Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System was released. Also of note: German guitar amplification experts Engl began operations. Of course, it wasn’t until the much darker year of 1984 that the company’s first amplifier was available for purchase.

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The E101 Digitalamp, although a fully analog tube amplifier, had full digital control, which was pretty groundbreaking 30 years ago. Engl claims it was the first digitally programmable amp, and I can’t find any evidence to the contrary. ADA’s MP-1 wasn’t released until a few years later. Ditto for Mesa/Boogie’s Triaxis, which I can’t find a definite date for but I know it wasn’t that early.

It’s interesting to note that the control wasn’t handled via midi, but instead with a proprietary footswtich and 8-pin connector. Ah, the early days of gear headaches. I managed to track down the manual for the E102, which seems to be essentially the same but a head instead of a combo. Check it out if you’re into gear archeology.

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.