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Robert Moog, Forefather of Synth, Inducted Into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy of the Bob Moog Foundation

Robert Moog, founder of Moog Music and inventor of the Moog synthesizer, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced Wednesday (March 27).

The National Inventors Hall of Fame, founded in 1973, annually honors “the individuals who conceived, patented, and advanced the great technological achievements since the birth of our nation.” Moog, who died from a brain tumor at the age of 71 in 2005, is identified on the organization’s website as the man behind Patent No. 3475623, an invention that has shaped popular music ever since.

“In 1966, Moog introduced the first complete voltage controlled modular synthesizer, an instrument capable of producing a wide variety of electronic sounds,” reads a press release. “His synthesizer helped revolutionize the face of music, giving artists and composers the capability to create a brand new palette of sounds.” The patent was issued in 1969.

One of the early pioneers of the Moog synthesizer was Wendy Carlos, who released the Moog-only Bach album Switched on Bach in 1968 and went on to score the classic Stanley Kubrick films A Clockwork Orange and The Shining, along with Disney’s original Tron. But the Moog cropped up on a wide range of rock and pop albums in the late ’60s and into the ’70s, including records by Diana Ross & the Supremes, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, the Doors, the Byrds, and Simon & Garfunkel.

Through mid-’70s records by Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, the Moog influenced not only synth-pop, but also disco, hip-hop, electronic dance music, and virtually everything that has come since. Following his death, Moog even inspired an annual music festival in Asheville, North Carolina.

Other inventors honored in this year’s round of inductions include the people responsible for the crash test dummy, the Steadicam camera stabilizer, and iris recognition technology, among other innovations. All valuable contributions to society, but seriously, would you want to live in a world without the Drive soundtrack?

The induction ceremony will be held on May 1 at the USPTO’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.