October 17, 2008
Robert "Bob" Moog
Dr. Robert Arthur Moog (pronounced /ˈmoʊɡ/, mohg), commonly called Bob Moog (May 23, 1934 – August 21, 2005) was an American pioneer of electronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.
A native of New York City, Robert Moog 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).
During his lifetime, Bob Moog founded two companies for manufacturing electronic musical instruments. 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. Moog spent the early 1990s as a research professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
He received a Grammy Trustees Award for lifetime achievement in 1970.
In 2002, Bob Moog was honored with a Grammy Tech Award, and an honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music.
He gave an enthusiastically-received lecture at the 2004 New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME-04), held in Hamamatsu, Japan's "City of Musical Instruments", in June, 2004. Moog was the inspiration behind the 2004 film Moog. Robert Moog was diagnosed with a brain tumor on April 28, 2005. Nearly four months later, Moog died at the age of 71 in Asheville, North Carolina. The Bob Moog Foundation was created as a memorial, with the aim of continuing his life's work of developing electronic music.
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.
Bob 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 U.S. Patent 3,475,623, which issued in October 1969. He held several dozen patents.
Moog 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 Moog instruments were modular synthesizers. 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. Through his involvement in electronic music, Moog developed close professional relationships with various artists. 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."