Happy birthday Robert Moog!

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Robert Moog (May 23, 1934-August 21, 2005) was an American engineer who pioneered electronic music in his creation of the Moog synthesizer.

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Moog was born in New York City. His father was a radio operator and his mother taught him piano, both aspects of his upbringing that greatly contributed to his professional accomplishments. He started out building radio kits and after learning about the theremin at the age of 14, became interested in electronic music. He improved the design of the theremin and began selling theremin building kits with his father under the newly formed the R.A. Moog Company.

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Robert Moog with Herbert Deutsch

He majored in physics at Queens College and then went on to study electrical engineering at Columbia University. But his educational career eventually had to take a backseat to his business that was, by this point, booming. Then, he moved on to Cornell University where he could tinker with some of the first synthesizers at their labs. Moog took what started off as unwieldy stacks of wires and metal and in 1964, had developed a prototype of the Moog synthesizer. That went into production and the simplified instrument was available for $10,000.

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The instrument started to become popular in classical and pop circles, with The Monkees and Wendy Carlos some of the first artists to employ it. The Moog was also used to create the score for A Clockwork Orange (1971). After a smaller, more portable version of the instrument was built, called the MiniMoog, progressive bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes, Tangerine Dream, and Emerson, and Lake and Palmer began using it in concert.

 

Moog also worked with the likes of Don Buchla, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, John Cage, and Gershon Kingsley.

He also worked with John Eaton on a touch-sensitive electronic keyboard.

From 1984-1988, Moog worked with Kurzweil Music Systems as a consultant and vice president for new product research. He later moved to North Carolina, founded the company Big Briar, and taught electronic music at the University of North Carolina.

He was the recipient of a Grammy Trustees Award for lifetime achievement in 1970. He died of brain cancer in 2005.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Friday, 23 May 2014
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