Design Con 2015

Moog synthesizer inventor is born, May 23, 1934

-May 23, 2014

Robert Moog, inventor of the modern synthesizer, was born on May 23, 1934.

The native New Yorker received his undergraduate degree, master’s degree, and PhD in his home state at Queens College, Columbia University, and Cornell University, respectively.

The Moog synthesizer was one of the first widely used electronic musical instruments.

Early developmental work on the components of the synthesizer occurred at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, now the Computer Music Center. While there, Moog developed the voltage controlled oscillators, ADSR envelope generators, and other synthesizer modules with composer Herbert Deutsch.

Moog is credited with creating the first voltage-controlled subtractive synthesizer to utilize a keyboard as a controller. He demonstrated it at the AES convention in 1964.

Two years later Moog filed a patent application for his unique low-pass filter. That patent was issued in October 1969, and his name is on 10 US patents in total.

The Moog synthesizer made a name for itself in the music industry after it was demonstrated at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967. Its commercial breakthrough was made by Wendy Carlos in the 1968 record Switched-On Bach, which became one of the highest-selling classical music recordings of its time.

In 2012, Google honored Moog’s birthday with an interactive Google Doodle of a Moog synthesizer and video. Watch it below.

Moog died in August 2005 of brain cancer. He was 71.


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For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on March 26, 2012, and edited on May 23, 2014.

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