So here we are taking a look at the Moog synthesizer history. As you will see as you go through the videos below, it’s amazing how far synthesizers have come since the early days. From the simple but haunting tone of the theremin to the MemoryMoog, via the Moog Modular and the Minimoog, there are a lot of fun toys to play with here. It’s just a shame I can’t afford to buy them all.
The theremin was originally invented by Léon Theremin and patented in 1928. It uses two metal antennas to detect the position of the player’s hands to control volume and pitch. This means you can create a more vocal style of sound, with smooth transitions between pitches.
Moog started making theremins in 1954, starting with the Theremin Model 201, followed shortly afterwards by the Theremin Model 351, then eventually the Melodia Theremin in 1961, which is featured in the video below.
1964-1968: Moog Modular
This was the first time that synthesizers really came into being. The Moog Modular synthesizer was made up of a series of different modules that all did different things and could all be linked up in different ways. As you can hear from the video below, you could make some truly awesome sounds with it.
1972: Sonic V and Minimoog Model D
For people that wanted something smaller and more self-contained, the Sonic V and Minimoog offered just that. As you can hear in the video below, even though the Minimoog was small, it could still produce some pretty awesome sounds. Please note, though, it has been put through delay and reverb effects.
1973: Moog Satellite
This was a much simpler instrument, intended for use by amateur musicians, but it still was capable of producing some good sounds:
1974: Moog Modular 15
Smaller than some of the other Moog Modular synthesizers, this was capable of producing some really cool sounds, as you can hear in the video below.
1975: Micromoog, Minimoog, Polymoog and Multimoog
The Micromoog, Multimoog and Minimoog were quite similar to the Minimoog and Satellite. However, it was the release of the Polymoog which brought something new into play: polyphonic sound, the ability to play more than one note at a time.
1978: Taurus 1
When the Taurus 1 bass pedals came out, this gave synth players the opportunity to play bass parts with their feet. It’s similar to how you can play bass on an organ. Geddy Lee from Rush originally started using bass pedals so that he could fill in the bass while he was playing rhythm guitar instead of bass guitar.
1979: Moog Prodigy
This synth is another self-contained analog synthesizer, and it can create some really amazing synth sounds as you can hear in the video below:
1980: Moog Opus and Liberation
The Moog Opus was not much of a leap forward from the Prodigy. But finally, with the Moog Liberation, people could play their synths stood up like a guitar!
1981: Rogue, Memorymoog, Source and Taurus 2
The Rogue was just anther cute little analogue synth, and the Taurus 2 was an update to the Taurus 1 with controls that you could access while standing up. The greatest thing in 1981, though, was the release of the Memorymoog and Source, two synthesisers which could save your sound settings.
The Memorymoog was the far superior of these because it had far more hands-on control knobs than the Source.
So there you go, I hope you found this run through of Moog synthesizer history interesting. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them below and I will reply as soon as I can.
All the best,