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Synthesizer innovator Moog dies at 71

RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — Robert A. Moog, whose self-named synthesizers turned electric currents into sound and opened the musical wave that became electronica, has died. He was 71. Moog was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, detected in April. He died Sunday at his home in Asheville, according to his company’s Web site. A childhood interest in the theremin, one of the first electronic musical instruments, would lead Moog to a create a career and business that tied the name Moog as tightly to synthesizers as the name Les Paul or Leo Fender is to electric guitars. As a Ph.D student in engineering physics at Cornell University, Moog — rhymes with vogue — in 1964 developed his first voltage-controlled synthesizer modules with composer Herbert Deutsch. By the end of that year, R.A. Moog Co. marketed the first commercial modular synthesizer. The instrument allowed musicians, first in a studio and later on stage, to generate a range of sounds that could mimic nature or seem otherworldly by flipping a switch, twisting a dial, or sliding a knob. Other synthesizers were already on the market in 1964, but Moog’s stood out for being small, light and versatile.