Geek Of The Week: Robert Moog

Geek Of The Week: Robert Moog

Back in May, Google changed it’s doodle as a tribute to Robert Moog in remembrance of his 78th birthday. Now… we are featuring him as a GOTW.

Robert Moog was born in New York and earned several degrees in the areas of electronics, physics, and engineering. He was also a big fan of music. Moog combined his interest in music with his expertise in electronics to create the first Moog synthesizer in1964. Using subtractive analog synthesis, Moog was able to change the properties of an electric signal (which he modified with knobs and switches) to produce musical sounds. He then used a keyboard controller (similar to a piano) to change the pitch of the note.

moog1968 Geek Of The Week: Robert Moog
Moog synthesizer, circa 1968

Moog used various combinations of oscillators, filters, and envelopes to modify the sound creating near limitless possibilities. The result was the monophonic analog synthesizer that rocked the world, so to speak. The Moog synthesizer was the first widely used electronic instrument. The first Moog models were very large and had multiple pieces. Needless to say, they were difficult to move and not very practical. Later, the Minimoog line of synthesizers was released which were smaller one piece instruments. This was the move that made the synthesizer available to the general public. The Minimoog changed the way people viewed electronic instruments.

minimoog1980 Geek Of The Week: Robert Moog
Minimoog synthesizer, circa 1980

Moog went on to form two companies, Moog Music and Kurzweil, and both still produce electronic musical instruments. He also became an icon for generations of geeks who embraced the iconic Moog synthesizer. In fact, if you look at our list of geek rock bands from 2010, many of them use Moog instruments (or other similar analog synthesizers). These instruments have become a mainstay in the geek rock genre. Notable Moog products include: Multimoog, Minimoog, Voyager, Little Phatty, Taurus, Minitaur, and the Moogerfooger line of pedals. Vintage Moog instruments are sought after by musicians and collectors all over the world.

moogvoyager Geek Of The Week: Robert Moog
Minimoog synthesizer, circa 2005

Unfortunately, Robert Moog died from a brain tumor in 2005 at age 71. The Bob Moog Foundation was created to continue his life’s work and inspire generations of up and coming musicians. Those who knew him best said he loved inspiring young musicians to create new things. The legacy he left behind will do that for years to come.

About the Author

avatar KALE: A geek who works in the IT field and lives in Dallas, TX. He is also a music geek who has played in several local bands. Previous to his IT career, Kale worked as a photojournalist. He brings technical advice and artistic counterpoint to the podcast.