Moog, Robert Arthur

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Moog, Robert Arthur

Robert Arthur Moog (mōg), 1934–2005, American electronic engineer, inventor of the Moog synthesizer, b. New York City, grad. Queens College (B.S, 1957), Columbia (B.S., 1957), Cornell (Ph.D., 1965). His active involvement with electronic music began with his building of a theremin at age 14; in the 1950s he sold theremin-building kits by mail, forming his own company in 1954. During the 1960s he began work on an electronic analog synthesizer that would be easier for musicians to use. His first synthesizer (1964) consisted of various voltage-controlled modules wired to one another and to a pianolike keyboard; it enabled players to imitate acoustic instruments or to create purely electronic sound. Moog refined his synthesizer, making it more compact and tonally versatile, and later created other synthesizers, e.g., the Minimoog (1970, the first portable), the Micromoog, the Multimoog, and the Moog III. In 1968 the best-selling album Switched-On Bach, on which Walter (now Wendy) Carlos performed solely on the Moog synthesizer, turned his invention into a musical sensation, and the synthesizer subsequently became an integral instrument in rock, jazz, funk, techno, and hip hop as well as electronic music.

See study by F. Trocco and T. Pinch (2002); H. Fjellestad, dir., Moog (documentary film, 2004).

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