A good friend of mine and I have oft gone back and forth about which is the world's best string machine. I've, of course, always been a huge advocate of the Roland RS-09. He has been telling me for some time now that it is the Korg Lambda. And for all it's charms the RS-09 will always be my favorite instrument, but I do realize it's limitations. As you will see in this video (made completely with a Korg Lambda ES-50), the Lambda simply is the best --in terms of versatility. This is also demonstrated on said friend's latest album (Travelogue - Fireworks: Holiday Friends Recordings Co. 2012)
Founded just two years after the Roland Corporation (1960 and 1962), both companies are from Japan and both started out making rhythm machines. I would imagine there was at least a little rivalry there which could have only made their products better. Indeed --the MiniKorg 700 (1974) and Roland SH-1000/2000 (1973) were clearly competitors.
Truth be told: I've always had a soft spot for Korg. I had an EX-800 growing up that I really loved. Also a DW-8000 which could produce really interesting sounds due to it's 16 waveforms and ADBSSR envelope generators. I'm not at all interested in the gratuitous MS series. I think the layouts of those machines are needlessly complex and downright confusing. What does interest me is the Korg Trident. It actually has a Roland vibe about it don't you think? With those buttons and all? I would say this was Korg's answer to the Jupiter 8 except that it was released a year before! I'm interested in a few things Korg released in this era of the Trident and Lambda, such as the Polysix, the Delta and even the EX-8000.
In the end (in my heart) Korg's downfall is that they didn't understand the importance of including CV and GATE on their instruments. They unknowingly cut themselves off from the rest of the world...
...I guess someone has to be second best.