The Prophet-5 is an analog synthesizer that was manufactured by Sequential Circuits in San Jose, California between 1978 and 1984. Introduced at the Winter NAMM show in January 1978, the Prophet-5 was groundbreaking in that it was one of the first analog synthesizers to implement patch memory, a feature which stored user settings of every parameter on the synthesizer into internal memory. It is also one of the first polyphonic synthesizers, with a maximum polyphony of 5 voices, meaning that up to 5 notes can sound at the same time. Like the Minimoog, the pitch wheel was not spring-loaded, but had a detent mechanism which clicked every time it was centered.
Sequential Circuits Inc. (SCI) was a California-based synthesizer company that was founded in the early 1970s by Dave Smith, and sold to Yamaha Corporation in 1987. Throughout its lifespan, Sequential pioneered technologies and design principles that have served as a foundation for the development of modern music technology. Sequential was also pivotal in the planning, design, and support of 1982’s groundbreaking innovation in electronic music, MIDI.
The Prophet-5 was also known for its modulation capabilities. The “Poly-Mod” feature routed the output of the filter envelope generator and the second oscillator in each voice through two mixer knobs, which could then be connected to the pulse width and pitch controls on the first oscillator, to the filter cutoff frequency control, or all three at the same time. Since the second VCO was not limited to being an LFO, this allowed the Prophet-5 to generate 2-operator FM synthesis and ring modulator-style effects, as well as complex sweeping sounds.