Best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer, The pioneer of electronic music, Robert Moog (Pronounced “Mogue”) was born on 23rd May 1934. Bob Moog’s innovative electronic design is employed in numerous synthesizers including the Minimoog Model D, Minimoog Voyager, Little Phatty, Moog Taurus Bass Pedals, Moog Minitaur, and the Moogerfooger line of effects pedals.He was born in New York and attended the Bronx High School of Science in New York, graduating in 1952. Moog earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Queens College, New York in 1957, another in electrical engineering from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in engineering physics from Cornell University. Moog’s awards include honorary doctorates from Polytechnic Institute of New York University (New York City) and Lycoming College (Williamsport, Pennsylvania).Moog created the first voltage-controlled subtractive synthesizer to utilize a keyboard as a controller and demonstrated it at the AES convention in 1964. In 1966, Moog filed a patent application for his unique low-pass filter which issued in October 1969. He held several dozen patents.
Moog also employed his theremin company (R. A. Moog Co., which would later become Moog Music) to manufacture and market his synthesizers. Unlike the few other 1960s synthesizer manufacturers, Moog shipped a piano-style keyboard as the standard user interface to his synthesizers. Moog also established standards for analog synthesizer control interfacing, with a logarithmic one volt-per-octave pitch control and a separate pulse triggering signal. The first instrument – The Moog modular synthesizer became 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. In 1971 Moog Music began production of the Minimoog Model D which was among the first widely available, portable and relatively affordable synthesizers. One of Moog’s earliest musical customers was Wendy Carlos whom he credits with providing feedback that was valuable to the further development of Moog synthesizers.Moog also constructed his own theremin as early as 1948. Later he described a theremin in the hobbyist magazine Electronics World and offered a kit of parts for the construction of the Electronic World’s Theremin, which became very successful.
In the late 1980s Moog repaired the original theremin of Clara Rockmore, an accomplishment which he considered a high point of his professional career. He also produced, in collaboration with first wife Shirleigh Moog, Mrs. Rockmore’s album, The Art of the Theremin. Moog was a principal interview subject in the award-winning documentary film, Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, the success of which led to a revival of interest in the theremin. Moog Music went back to its roots and once again began manufacturing theremins. Thousands have been sold to date and are used by both professional and amateur musicians around the globe. In 1996 he published another do-it-yourself theremin guide. Today, Moog Music is the leading manufacturer of performance-quality thereminsThrough his involvement in electronic music, Moog developed close professional relationships with artists such as Don Buchla, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, John Cage, Gershon Kingsley, Clara Rockmore, Jean Jacques Perrey , and Pamelia Kurstin.
In a 2000 interview, Moog said “I’m an engineer. I see myself as a toolmaker and the musicians are my customers. They use my tools.”During his lifetime, Moog founded two companies for manufacturing electronic musical instruments -RA Moog Co who manufactured Theramin Kits but left after a disagreement and formed a company called Big Briar. He also worked as a consultant and vice president for new product research at Kurzweil Music Systems from 1984 to 1988, helping to develop the Kurzweil K2000. He spent the early 1990s as a research professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. During his lifetime Moog received a Grammy Trustees Award for lifetime achievement in 1970, and In 2002, Moog was honored with a Special Merit/Technical Grammy Award, and an honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music. Moog was also the inspiration behind the 2004 film Moog.
Sadly he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor on April 28, 2005 and passed away nearly four months later, at the age of 71 in Asheville, North Carolina on August 21, 2005. The Bob Moog Foundation was created as a memorial, with the aim of continuing his life’s work of developing electronic music. He is survived by three daughters (Laura Moog Lanier, Michelle Moog-Koussa, Renee Moog) one son (Matthew Moog) one stepdaughter, Miranda Richmond, and five grandchildren.