Alesis Studio Electronics was founded in 1984 by Keith Barr (who co-founded MXR) in Hollywood. Leveraging his ability to design custom integrated circuits, Barr's company was able to introduce products with feature sets that, up to that time, had been extremely expensive. Alesis' products were within the realm of most project studios, making them very successful. Alesis' first product was the XT Reverb. Introduced in 1985, the XT Reverb was an all-digital reverb that carried an unprecedented low price of $799. Barr recruited Russell Palmer as Operations Manager and Robert Wilson to handle international sales so that Barr could continue to focus on engineering.
In 1986 Alesis produced the first under-$1000 16-bit professional effects processor, the MIDIverb. Next, after teaming up with Marcus Ryle (who later founded Line 6), Alesis introduced the MMT8 hardware sequencer and the very successful HR-16 drum machine in 1987.