Geek Of The Week: Tom Oberheim

Geek Of The Week: Tom Oberheim

In honor of Knobcon, which kicks off this week in Chicago, we’re declaring Tom Oberheim the Geek of the Week. In addition to being an accomplished music geek, he is the keynote speaker at this year’s Knobcon conference.

OBX Geek Of The Week: Tom Oberheim
OB-X synthesizer, circa 1979

Like Roger Arrick, Dave Smith, Don Buchla, and many other GOTWs, Oberheim builds electronic musical instruments. He started his career in 1969 by building effects processors. Shortly afterwards, he started working on synthesizers. The first Oberheim-branded synth, called the SEM, arrived in 1974. He continued to make synthesizers and drum machines throughout the 80’s, and several of his designs are still copied today. He also collaborated heavily with Dave Smith on the MIDI standard, but eventually sold his company to Gibson Guitars in 1985.

OB6 Geek Of The Week: Tom Oberheim
OB-6 synthesizer, circa 2016

Oberheim founded two more companies, Marion Systems and Sea Sound, but neither of them are as iconic as the Oberhiem-branded products. However, the Oberheim name returned in 2009 when he decided to remake the classic SEM synthesizer in modular format. Since then Oberheim has released several more products including the awesome OB-6, which was collaboration between him and Dave Smith (pictured above). Needless to say, this geek has made huge contributions to electronic musical instruments. Now he can call himself a Geek of the Week as well.

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.