Dr. Robert Moog, known for the synthesizer that beared his name, died at his home in Asheville, North Carolina on Sunday. He was 71. The inventor of the Moog synthesizer — whose variants have been used by everyone from Pink Floyd to Kraftwerk, Duran Duran, the Black Eyed Peas and the Neptunes — was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in April and had received radiation therapy and chemotherapy to combat the disease, according to a post on his official Web site.
Born on May 23, 1934 in New York, Moog began tinkering with early versions of electronic instruments as a teenager. After writing an article about them in 1954, he opened a business building and selling theremins, machines in which pitch and volume could be controlled by the wave of a musicians' hand. Moog earned degrees in physics, electrical engineering and engineering physics before staring out on a path that would turn him into an icon for generations of modern musicians.
By 1963, Moog developed the first widely used electronic instrument, a synthesizer, whose first popular appearance was on the Monkees album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.. The instrument had its breakthrough, though, in 1969 when musician Walter (now known as Wendy) Carlos had a Grammy-winning smash with Switched on Bach, an album of electronic versions of Johann Sebastian Bach pieces.
Moog's synthesizers, which came with a piano-style keyboard, quickly became popular with rock musicians, who appreciated the wide range of unique sounds they could create by adjusting the various controls. Moog synthesizers appeared on the Beatles' Abbey Road and the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange."¶