Throwback Thursday: Moog Synthesizer's Asheville Roots

June 6, 2019

The following essay is courtesy of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resource's blog.

On June 9, 1978, Robert Moog incorporated Big Briar, his musical instrument company in Asheville.  Moog, an engineer, invented the Moog synthesizer that made him famous in 1963.

As a teenager Moog had been interested in the Theremin, an obscure musical instrument that produced, via a hand waving in an electromagnetic field, the strange, ethereal sounds that were used in many of the science fiction films of the 1950s. At the age of 14, he built one and, with his father’s help, turned it into a business, R. A. Moog Company, which was incorporated in the state of New York in 1954.

An amateur musician, Moog was fascinated by electronic instruments and intrigued by the emerging world of electronics. He attached circuits to a keyboard, and in doing so invented a much more affordable and portable synthesizer.

In spite of the successes, the company, which was eventually renamed Moog Music, fell on hard times due to Moog’s lack of business experience.  He sold his trademark and worked as an engineer for the company that bought it until he established Big Briar. Moog reacquired his trademark, changing the name of the company back to Moog Music, Inc. in 2002.

Each year Moogfest celebrates electronic music.

Moog Music continues to hand-build electronic instruments in the heart of downtown Asheville. Tours are available Mon-Fri. Call 828.239.0123 or visit their website for more information.