I start my songwriting with the drums. Touching actual buttons and watching flashing lights go left to right as the sequencer plays is more fun than pushing around a mouse. My iPad is getting a lot of attention these days for the fun factor too but the sound is not exactly the same.
“The famous Roland TR-808 was also launched in 1980. At the time it was received with little fanfare, as it did not have digitally sampled sounds; drum machines using digital samples were much more popular. In time, though, the TR-808, along with its successor, the TR-909 (released in 1984), would become a fixture of the burgeoning underground dance, techno, and hip-hop genres, mainly because of its low cost (relative to that of the Linn machines), and the unique character of its analogue-generated sounds.” – Wikipedia
For more info: wikipedia.org/Drum_machine
photo credit: Ethan Hein