Tag Archives: Technological milestone

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

Introduced their synthesizer on October 12, 1964.
Herbert Deutsch speaking about its development:
“The Minotaur” from Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman
Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

Sound effects

I just missed the excitement of radio shows and how their sound effects made the stories “real.” Early TV shows and movies occasionally showed those radio station sets and revealed how clever sound technicians recreated the real world with “fake” noise. Need the sound of a door closing? Close a door. Need the sound of thunder?  Move a large, thin sheet of copper suspended from a frame by wires.

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

Electronic Music

The mixture of electricity and sound effects created new possibilities. Around 1896, Thaddeus Cahill developed the Telharmonium. Much like later electric organs, it used wire to transmit sound to horn speakers.

Leon Theremin developed a much simpler instrument. Below you can watch him demonstrate it. He used it much like a violin. Unfortunately for him, I suppose, most Boomers hear a Theremin and think of space invasion movies.

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

Laurens Hammond

Laurens Hammond established his company in 1929 for the manufacture of electronic instruments. His Hammond organ used the same principals that the Telharmonium had used.

As electronics got more sophisticated, so did technicians’ ability to create more sophisticated instruments.

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

Moeg

In 1963 Robert Moog (pronounced “Moeg” like Moe of the Three Stooges not “Moooog” like Daisy the Cow) and Herbert Deutsch met. Deutsch was a musican; Moog a technician. Together they came up with the idea of making a user-friendly electronic keyboard that had a huge range of sound. Much wider than even a Hammond organ.

And on October 12,  1964, Moog and Deutsch introduced and demonstrated their music synthesizer at the convention of the Audio Engineering Society in NYC.

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

Beatles and Moog

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

While the instrument and its later refinements did not catch on immediately, it gradually became a huge part of rock music. The Beatles (of course) via George Harrison (of course) used a Moog on their last recordings together:

  • the wind at the end of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”? Moog.
  • that lovely counterpoint to the acoustic guitar that gently slides in at the beginning of “Here Comes the Sun” ? Moog.
  • “Because” uses the Moog as well.

 

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

Reaction

What was the reaction to the Moog? Ed Ward of Rolling Stone magazine reviewed Abbey Road and though that the Moog “disembodies and artificializes” the band’s sound. He added that they “create a sound that could not possibly exist outside the studio.

Since the Beatles weren’t touring or performing live, that wasn’t a problem. Having said that, if anyone has ever experienced the Fab Faux in concert and their eerie ability to play Beatles music of any era, then Ward’s comment is untrue.

What do you think?

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch

EDM

In any case, it was was nice that Mr Moog and Mr Deutsche met and gave us a whole world of sound to add to our library.

A reader of this blog added an interesting comment: …and don’t forget Dick Hyman’s album of Moog music, which included the song, The Minitaur, which found its way into the Emerson, Lake, and Palmer playlist.

Bob Moog died in 2005, but his legacy lives on.

Robert Moog Herbert Deutsch
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Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

Patented August 10, 1937
Tom Morillo demonstrating some electric guitar techniques
Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument
Rickenbacker Frying Pan
Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

Acoustic guitar fine, but…

An acoustic guitar has many advantages. It is lightweight. It is portable. Manufacturers can make them inexpensively.

For centuries string-instruments held a high place among musicians.

Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

Big bands…

In the early 20th century, big brass band became more popular and its powerful sound simply overpowered the acoustic guitar.

Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

Enter electricity

As electricity increasingly became more accessible and a part of everyday life, inventors increasingly designed devices to use that power.

Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

Electro String Instrument

On August 10, 1937, the United States Patent Office awarded Patent #2,089.171 to G.D. Beauchamp for an instrument known as the Rickenbacker Frying Pan.

Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

Inventor G.D. Beauchamp, partnered with Adolph Rickenbacher in the Electro String Instrument Corporation of Los Angeles, California. They had spent more than five years pursuing his patent on the Frying Pan.

Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

A telephone or a guitar?

The idea was a simple one. Simple to understand. Complicated to design. An electro-magnet placed near a vibrating string will pick up and amplify that vibration.

A problem that Beauchap and Rickenbacher faced was the telephone worked in a very similar manner. They had to revise the guitar’s design several times before the Patent Office accepted their guitar as a guitar and not a telephone.

Their design resembled a circular magnet that surrounded the strings. That design is no longer used.

Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument

The same, but different

All the things that a guitarist could do with an acoustic guitar to vary its sound could, of course, be done with an electric guitar, such as bending the strings.

What an acoustic guitar could not do (at least not at first and not without magnetic pickups) was color the sound.

The simple current set up by the vibrating string within the magnetic field is not enough to make a loud sound. An amplifier is necessary. Put some other electronics between the guitar and the amp and a rainbow of sounds is produced.

Here is additional information about the earliest days of the electric guitar.

Rickenbacker Electro String Instrument
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Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Happy birthday
July 7, 1880 – November 8, 1960

Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Best thing since…

The expression that something is “the best thing since sliced bread” is one, I guess, that most people younger than Boomers do not recognize.

Even for Boomers, it is an expression that they likely winced at when they heard a parent or grandparent use it.

Until a Boomer, or anyone, tries to actually slice a piece of bread.

And then other less polite expressions are spoken.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Davenport, Iowa

Otto Frederick Rohwedder was born in Davenport, Iowa. His first profession was a jeweler, but he longed to be an inventor. He sold his jewelry stores to finance that dream.

In 1917 a fire broke out in the factory where he was developing a machine to slice bread. Delayed but not dissuaded, ten years later he successfully developed a machine that both uniformly sliced and wrapped a loaf of bread.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Chillicothe Baking Company

The Chillicothe Baking Company was the first to buy his machine and on July 7, 1928 (incidentally his 48th birthday), the company sold its first loaf of sliced bread.

Sales of the machine to other bakeries increased and sliced bread became available across the country.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Toast

Of course, toast was part of American breakfasts already, but with the easy availability of sliced bread, toast became more and more popular and that demand led to an increase in the sale of, what else, toasters.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Wonder Bread

While Wonder Bread may have come to be associated with over-commercialized and less nutritious food, in 1930 the Continental Baking Company introduced its sliced bread.

Other companies followed, eager to find the same success as Continental’s.

By 1933 American bakeries produced more sliced than unsliced bread loaves.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder

Rohwedder died in Concord, Michigan on November 8, 1960. He was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Albion.

Otto Frederick Rohwedder

 

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