Located in Hamburg, Germany PPG stood for Palm Productions GmbH. Wolfgang Palm was the owner and chief designer at PPG. Palm started making synthesizers around 1975 and during these early days he became associated with members of the German proto-space-music band, Tangerine Dream. They helped him get PPG under way and he began creating analog synthesizers such as the Model 300.
Other early instruments included the PPG 1002, which Palm called "the first programmable synthesizer", the 340/380 System used by Thomas Dolby in the early 80's, and the 360 Wavecomputer.
Palm began experimenting with all-digital synthesizer designs around 1977. Between then and 1980/81 he developed the first digital wavetable synthesizers. After realizing that the technical limitations of the period prohibited an all-digital design Palm opted for digital wavetable oscillators feeding into analog filters and VCAs. Thus the PPG Wave 2 line was born. By 1982, Palm had refined the design into the familier Wave 2.2. The 2.2 was intoduced to the world along with the Waveterm at the 1982 Frankfurt Music Fair.
Ironically, the Wave 2.2 was introduced one year before MIDI. Palm had already created his PPG Communication Buss which was an 8-bit parallel system, and much faster than MIDI. Although MIDI was added to the PPG line it took much time and effort to redesign existing systems for this second interface.
During the mid-80's PPG developed a couple of high-end components: the HDU and Realizer. The HDU was the first of these components, and was a 16-bit/44.1Khz hard disk recorder... or Hard Disk Unit. It was very ahead of it's time for 1986.
The Realizer was also being developed at this time and would prove to be PPG's last product. The Realizer never made it into production.
And so PPG ceased to exist in 1987. However this was not the end of Palm or wavetable synthesis. Palm developed the custom wavetable chip for the Microwave, which is manufactured by Waldorf Electronics. They also make the monster of wavetable synthesizers, The Wave.
Still, there are many of us who hold a special fondness toward the original PPG instruments. They were (and are) exotic, rare and endowed with a very unique sound. There is a certain feeling one gets from the blue panels, rounded buttons, and other eccentricities of the PPG products that is not unlike the feeling players get from other classic keyboard instruments such as the Hammond B3. For those people nothing can ever replace the original.
[excerpted with permission from the PPG pages at Antarctica Media courtesy of John A Trevethan]