Les Paul had Ampex build him an 8-track recorder to do his own multitracking, (he worked with Ampex on developing the first 8-track recorder), but realized that there were no consoles that could actually function with his 8-track recorder. He ran across Rein Narma, who was a young guy that was just brilliant at electronics and asked Rein to build a console to work with his new 8-track. So Rein Narma actually created the first 8-track recording console for Les. Les was so pleased with the console, he asked Rein, "Hey, would you like to build me a compressor/limiter?" After discussing what Les was looking for, Rein made a long list and tells Les to go off and buy all these parts. While sitting at Les's dining-room table building this thing, a friend of Les's by the name of Sherman stopped by the house. Sherman Fairchild is the man behind Fairchild Instruments and asks Rein, "What are you building?" Rein answers, "A compressor for Les." Sherman was impressed enough to hire Rein to build the compressor for his company. Interestingly enough, Les never did get his compressor built by Rein Narma … and still has that whole box of unfinished electronic parts in his basement.
Fairchild 1950s compressors are probably the most revered — and imitated — processors in the world, often referred to as the "holy grail" of outboard devices.
The first Fairchild compressor unit was sold to fellow New Jersey resident Rudy Van Gelder, who made great use of the compressor when cutting lacquer masters for Blue Note jazz records and Vox classical records. The second unit went to Olmsted Sound Studios in New York, where Jimi Hendrix would record a decade later. The third unit went to Les. Not coincidentally, Narma made custom recording consoles for all three clients, including Les Paul’s “Monster” desk to complement his “Octopus” 8-track Ampex recorder.
Les's custom built console for the first 8 track tape machine.
The recorder was named "the octopus" and the mixing console was named "the monster". The name octopus was inspired by W. C. Fields who was the first person Les Paul played a multi-track recording for. Upon hearing the recording W. C. Fields said: 'My boy, you sound like an octopus.
Look who's coming to dinner at Les's house?