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Robert Moog Pt 1 - The First Commercial Modular Synthesizers 


These days it’s quite common to buy a synthesizer or any equipment that you want. Available where you want and when you want. Nowadays musicians can perform a liveshow with a lot of gear generating all the sounds he or she prefers. This wasn’t always the case. In fact, synthesizers used to be room filling instruments until ‘Robert Moog’ came. 


January 1954

This month exactly 67 years ago,the nineteen year old “Robert Moog” published his first article in Radio & Television News magazine. Featured on the cover of the magazine’s January 1954 issue. In this article he provided his readers with a new schematic for a theremin they can build at home. 

In that same year he founded “Moog”, selling theremins and theremin kits by mail order from his home.

Bob’s love for the theremin ultimately resulted in the invention of the Moog modular synthesizer. 


The First Moog

Composer and musician Herb Deutsch asked Robert Moog to build something that generates a sound not easily played by an instrument or triggered in a studio. The plans began quietly but eventually Bob had the exciting idea to combine existing systems in a way no one ever did before. 

On October 12, 1964, Bob Moog unveiled the first modular voltage-controlled synthesizer. It was much smaller than other synthesizers and could be played via keyboard, making it attractive to musicians. The Moog offered seemingly infinite combinations of tones, compared to earlier instruments. 

With no Moog books and no way to save settings, users had to learn how to use the synthesizer themselves, by word, self study or from seminars held by Moog and Deutsch. 


Switched On Bach

Nobody believed there was any future in that sort of thing. The first market for these synthesizers were the experimental composers, not what you'd call the basis for a big business. But when “Wendy Carlos'' released her album called “Switched On Bach” it changed the whole idea about this concept. Shattering the thoughts that synthesisers were only suitable for creating sound effects and avant-garde music. Two years later, Keith Emerson used a synthesiser on the first Emerson “Lake & Palmer LP'', introducing the instrument to rock.

Bob’s dream was to be an engineer and this can be noticed in his work. Synthesizers still could only be used in studio’s, so he was thinking to make these incredible machines in a way so the musician can use this on the road or when performing live. The story continues. 


Go to PART 2


Author: Techno 24/7

Pic: moogmusic.com

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