Speaking of aviability, firstly, when Roland TR-808 just came to the market, it costed $ 1,195. The other alternative was a competitive drum machine Linn LM-1, but it cost was around $ 5,000. For that period of time it was a huge amount of money, especially when speaking about music gear.
TR-808 looked like a rather profitable alternative to LM-1. Artists and producers began actively using the “808” because of its accessibility and extraordinary sounding. Also in terms of design Roland’s device looked well ahead of time, in addition to it was remarkably easy to use and just fun to mess around with. Even more importantly it was surprisingly easy to program. Before the LM-1 and the TR-808, nearly all of the drum machines came with preset rhythms that could not be modified in any way, except the tempo. On the Roland’s drum machine it was possible to make unique patterns and create your own tempos.
It was, in fact, a tool of creation. “The 808 allowed you to actually build your own patterns – you were able to put the kick drums and snares where you wanted them”(Juan Atkins, citied in Beaumont-Thomas, 2014). TR-808’s turning point came when its price tag dropped from $1,200 to $100,as stated in Fact magazine: “By the time it was discontinued the unloved Roland Rhythm Composer was a regular fixture in junk shops and pawn shops, and was easy to pick up for under $100.
This made it rather attractive to a new wave of producers who had no interest in making their drums sound realistic or slick, and the machine had suddenly found itself at the center of a new wave of electronic music” (Factmag, 2016). Such state of affairs attracted curious underground musicians from America’s poor urban areas turning 808 into cult. Finally, producers in Detroit, Chicago and New York were making techno, house, acid and hip hop that sounded like nothing else that was ever played before. Within a few years, Roland’s commercial failure had become an essential piece of kit.