Robert Moog, founder of Moog Music, Died at 71


Robert Arthur “Bob” Moog died on August 21, 2005 at the age of 71,  he is the founder of Moog Music, was an American engineer and pioneer of electronic music, best known as the inventor of the Moog synthesizer.

Born on May 23, 1934 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 first wife was Shirleigh Moog (née Leigh), a grammar school teacher whom he married in 1958.

The couple had three daughters (Laura Moog Lanier, Michelle Moog-Koussa, Renee Moog) and one son (Matthew Moog) before their divorce.

Moog was married to his second wife Ileana Grams, a philosophy professor, for nine years until his death.

Moog’s stepdaughter, Miranda Richmond, is Grams’s daughter from a previous marriage. Moog also had five grandchildren. The first Moog instruments were modular synthesizers.

In 1971 Moog Music began production of the Minimoog Model D, which was among the first synthesizers that was widely available, portable, and relatively affordable.

The first prototype of the minimoog only had about two filters, a couple envelope generators, and a very small keyboard.

Robert knew that this wouldn’t be good enough for the average musician, so he kept working on the synthesizer and was able to add more filters, oscillators, and a wider key range.

Using funds from his theremin sales, Moog designed and built other electronic musical instruments, including an analog synthesizer, a big improvement over the original, room-sized synthesizer produced in 1955 by the RCA Corporation, which sold for $100,000.

Moog’s synthesizer had a keyboard and used patch cords to produce different tones. Over the years, Moog improved the instrument with stereophonic and polyphonic sound, allowing musicians to play multiple musical lines and harmony.

During the 1970s, less-expensive digital synthesizers flooded the market. Moog didn’t have the financial expertise to navigate his company through competitive times.

By 1973, he had sold all the rights to his company. In 1978, he moved to Asheville, North Carolina, and set up the Big Briar Music Company, building there mins and analog synthesizers.

In the meantime, Moog synthesizers enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the 1980s and 1990s because many musicians preferred their warmer sound over the less expensive brands.

By 2000, Moog had successfully fought in court to use the Moog name and changed the name of Big Briar Music to Moog Music.