The Millioniser is a harmonica wind instrument named after its inventor Walt Miller (Walter Müller).
Image: Walt Miller
The Milloniser was developed in a period of 5 years before it hit the market as the “Millioniser 2000”.
In 1979, Walter Miller together with Harald Blobel and Urs-Peter Studer developed a prototype which could control a Roland Promars analogue synthesizer. The first control unit was still quite bulky, but its functions were working exactly as expected. With this unit, the two records “Xmas and you” and “Perfidia” were produced.
Image: Harald Blober
We are sorry that we don’t have a picture of Urs-Peter Studer at the moment. In succession, a new control unit was developed by Urs-Peter Studer. It was intended for the use as a controller for a Promar Synthesizer. Unfortunately, the production was very expensive and complex. Because of this, Walter Miller was looking for a funding partner, which makes a redesign with an own synthesizer possible. At the same time he was looking for an engineer with experience in musical electronics.
In 1982, Ronald Schlimme of SM Elektronik AG joined the team. The first job was to implement a standardized interface to normal synthesizers. Further, different aspects of modulating the sound had to be explored. A Roland Modular System 100M, a Moog Prodigy and different additional devices were used for this. The results were truly striking. A violinist was baffled about the authenticity while listening to Walter Miller playing on the Millioniser prototype. Similarly amazed was a trumpet player who was working as a instrument maker for brass instruments.
Image: Ronald Schlimme
In 1982/83, a polyphonic controller was developed, which could control a Roland Jupiter 4 synthesizer. Finally in September of 1983, the long awaited funding of the Millioniser company in London came off.
Image: Logo Millioniser 2000
In October 1983, the development of the new Millioniser 2000 started. Everything has been redesigned: the casing construction for the control unit and synthesizer, electronics, software, test software, production documents and a lot more. The first microcontroller with analogue inputs from Motorola was implemented.
The design phase started in October of 1983 with the idea and already in March 1984, the Millioniser was ready for production. Early April, presentations of this new instrument took place in Zurich in front of the SMI and in the Hilton in Basel.
Image: Millioniser 2000
The Millioniser 2000 was then produced by Suzuki in Japan. In 1986, the Millioniser was upgraded with a MIDI interface. It was the first wind instrument with a MIDI interface and one of the first synthesizer with the master controller function.
Take a look at the pages about history and Millioniser 2000. You will find a variety of sound examples and more to download.
Image: Walt Miller
Image: Walt Miller, Guss Miller and Lucky Monnerat. The Chromatos 1947
Image: This formation was recruited by Boran Minevitch in 1948
Image: Xavier Cougat and solists from Minevitch, Miami in 1948
Image: Miki Rooney & the three Swiss in New York 1948
Image: Royal Command Performance in 1949
Image: Thunderbird Las Vegas Xmas 1949
Image: Change of name: The two Busketeers 1951
Image: On tour with Carmen Miranda, Italy in 1953
Image: Walt Miller together with the little Cornelia on a demo tour for Hohner in 1956
Image: New formation in 1957: Walt Miller’s Harmonica Stars
Image: Walt Miller on tour with the Hotcha Trio in 1957
Image: Walt Miller on tour with the Trio Harmony in Berlin
Image: Walt Miller at the London Palladium in 1949