How Casio’s Tinny Keyboards Quietly Inspired a Music Revolution

Casio claimed it could fit the sounds of dozens of musical instruments into its keyboards. Maybe it wasn’t totally true, but the Casiotone gave us a lot.

A version of this post originally appeared on Tedium, a twice-weekly newsletter that hunts for the end of the long tail.

In the late 1970s, a man who had changed the business world by turning massive calculators into handheld devices decided that he wanted to scratch another itch.

And with that itch scratched, he introduced a world of creativity to bedroom warriors around the country—a set of training wheels to the musically inclined.

The devices he created proudly ignored their weaknesses and succeeded despite themselves. And they even inspired pop culture in ways big and small. It was and is a DIY cornerstone: You don’t need a backing band; you have a keyboard.


Casio inspired a tinny electronic music revolution. And it’s still making noises to this day.