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Google “Goog” Doodle Honors Music Innovator Robert Moog

Written by Renee C. Quinn
B.S. Pennsylvania State University
M.B.A. University of Phoenix
Posted: May 24, 2012 @ 5:04 pm
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As you most likely already know, Google has made it a tradition to create fun Google logo’s (or Doodles) to celebrate specific holidays, anniversaries and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists.   You may recall that on Saturday May 22, 2010, in celebration of Pacman’s 30th Anniversary, Google featured its very first interactive doodle in the form of a Pacman game you could actually play.  You can read more about it in my article Pacman Celebrates its 30th Anniversary – Google Style.  Yesterday Google featured another interactive doodle that they called the “Goog” this time in celebration of Dr. Robert Moog’s (rhymes with “vogue”) 78th birthday.  Moog was an American pioneer of music who invented the electronic analog Moog Synthesizer.  If you missed it, that’s OK, you can still play the fully interactive “Goog” Doodle through the Google Doodle Library.

ROBERT MOOG

Born Robert Arthur Moog in Queens, NY in 1934, Bob Moog had always had a passion for electronics.  Moog graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1952 and went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Queen’s College in 1957.  He also acquired a second Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University and finally went on to complete his PhD in Engineering Physics from Cornell University in 1965.

From early on in his life, he and his father George Moog, an electrical engineer for Con Edison, tinkered with and built small radios, amps and Theremins, an electronic instrument you play without touching.  In January 1954, at age 19, after Bob published his first article entitled “The Theremin” for both radio and television news, Bob received many requests from readers to create a Theremin kit for sale and the R.A. Moog, Co. was born.



It was in 1963 that Bob Moog invented, designed and constructed the first Moog Modular synthesizer in conjunction with musical composure Herbert A. Deutsch.   He later founded Big Briar in 1977 and continued to introduce newer versions of synthesizers up until his death from an inoperable glioblastoma multiform brain tumor on August 21, 2005. Released that year alone were the Moog Voyager Rack Mount Edition, the Minimoog Electric Blue and the Moogerfooger MF-104Z Analog Delay

THE “GOOG”

The “Goog’ is an interactive, playable synthesizer-based logo inspired by the instrument known as the “Minimoog” which Bob Moog invented in 1963.  The Minimoog brought musical performance into the electronic age and has been used heavily over the years by artists such as Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, The Doors and many others.  You can use your mouse or keyboard on the Moog doodle’s keys and dials to make nearly limitless sounds. Keeping with the theme of 1960s music technology, the keyboard doodle was also paired with a 4-track tape recorder so you can record, play back and share songs via short links or Google+.

The Bob Moog Foundation was created to carry Bob’s legacy forward by educating and inspiring children and adults through the power and possibilities of electronic music as well as the intersection of music, science and innovation.  The foundation’s resident synthesizer expert, Marc Doty, created a “how-to” video to help those not familiar with all of the capabilities of a synthesizer to get full use of the “Goog”.

ROBERT MOOG PATENTS

Robert Moog applied for his first patent on October 10, 1966 and went on to acquire a total of 10 patents, the last of which was issued on October 18, 1988.

Electronic High-Pass and Low-Pass Filters Employing the Base of Emitter Diode Resistance Bi-Polar Transistors

Inventor: Robert A. Moog
Patent number: 3475623
Filing date: Oct 10, 1966
Issue date: Oct 28, 1969

Abstract

The dynamic base to emitter resistance of bipolar transistors is programmable over a wide range of varying the standing current in the transistors.  Voltage programmable high-pass and low-pass RC filters are formed using plurality of bipolar transistors connected to use the base to emitter diode resistance as the R’s of the filters.

Electronic music synthesizer

Inventor: Robert A. Moog
Patent number: 4050343
FILED: Dec 29, 1975
ISSUED: Sep 27, 1977

Abstract

An electronic music synthesizer is disclosed in which the sound producing chain includes a voltage-controlled oscillator, band-pass filter, low-pass filter, and amplifier in which selected control currents are supplied to low impedance points within the synthesizer circuit from a resistor matrix. The synthesizer produces sounds approximating different acoustic musical instruments or having different tonal qualities by the application of a predetermined voltage to one of fifteen input columns of the resistor matrix with selected other columns being grounded. The currents provided by the resistor matrix in combination with other externally generated currents control the center frequency and bandwidth of the band-pass filter, the cutoff frequency of the low-pass filter, the gain of the voltage-controlled amplifier, the time constants of transient contour currents used to control the filters and amplifier, and the waveform produced by the voltage-controlled oscillator. Specialized keyboard, wave shaping, contour generating and modulating circuits are also provided.



Phase shifting sound effects circuit

Inventors: Robert A. Moog, Roger Flavius Cox

Patent number: 4108041
FILED: Jun 25, 1976
ISSUED: Aug 22, 1978

Abstract

A sound effect circuit with a phase shifter producing a signal shifted in phase with respect to an input signal, a combining circuit for arithmetically combining the input and phase shifted signals to produce an output signal, an oscillator for periodically modulating a characteristic frequency of the phase shifter and a modulation control circuit. The modulation control circuit causes the modulation rate to gradually increase when modulation is manually switched on and to gradually decrease when modulation is switched off. The modulation control also causes the characteristic frequency to vary inversely with the modulation rate. The system defined by a part of the circuit producing a first output signal proportional to the sum of the input and phase shifted signals has a comb shaped frequency response curve and a part of the circuit producing a second output signal proportional to the difference between the input and phase shifted signals has a comb shaped frequency response curve inversely related to that of the summing part of the circuit. When the two output signals are fed to separate speakers, the total frequency response curve of the two systems taken together is substantially flat, but the distribution of energy in the frequency spectrum moves in space as the modulation proceeds to produce a new “stereo phase shift” sound effect. A rotary potentiometer for mixing the first and second outputs signals with each of the input signal and the phase shifted signal in selected proportion provides a third output signal with selectively variable characteristics.

Amplifier with multifilter

Inventor: Robert A. Moog
Patent number: 4117413
FILED: Jun 21, 1977
ISSUED: Sep 26, 1978

Abstract

In an audio amplifier for amplifying signals from an electric guitar or the like having a conventional tone control circuit for selectively emphasizing input signals in the bass, middle and treble frequency ranges of the instrument, a multifilter circuit for emphasizing input signals with frequencies in selected, relatively narrow, frequency bands in the upper portion of the frequency spectrum to minimize aural fatigue. The multifilter circuit comprises a plurality of parallel connected, two-pole, resonant filter sections with different, relatively narrow, resonant frequency bands separated from one another by an amount on the order of 1/4 octave and forms a signal path that supplements the signal path provided by the conventional tone control circuit. The signals produced on the output of the tone control circuit are mixed with the multifilter output signals. Potentiometers are provided to vary the amplitude of the output signals of the entire multifilter circuit or selected ones of the filter sections thereof. Both the amplitude and phase frequency response of the multifilter are characterized by a plurality of successive peaks and dips, such that as the musician plays different notes, certain number of harmonics are emphasized in some notes, while other harmonics are emphasized in other notes with respect to amplitude while variations in the pitch or frequency of the input signal result in the phases of the individual harmonics to be rapidly shifted which causes minute shifts in the pitch of the individual harmonics produced on the output.

Distortion sound effects circuit

Inventor: Robert A. Moog
Patent number: 4180707
FILED: Jun 21, 1977
ISSUED: Dec 25, 1979

Abstract

A distortion sound effects circuit producing an output signal corresponding to an input signal but containing one of four selected types of distortion. A compressor which includes a voltage-controlled amplifier first compresses the audio input signal within preselected limits, and the distortion operations are performed on the compressed audio signal to advantageously render the subsequent distortion operations insensitive to gross amplitude fluctuations of the input signal. The compressor includes means for full-wave rectifying the compressed audio signal. The full-wave rectified signal is provided as a distorted output signal containing hard-even distortion of the type commonly achieved by severely, asymmetrically clipping a signal. A distortion circuit includes single voltage controlled square-low amplifier to which the compressed audio signal is applied performs the other three types of distortion. Soft-odd distortion is achieved by slightly and symmetrically overloading the input stage of the amplifier by an amount less than would result in clipping at the output stage. Hard-odd distortion is achieved by symmetrically and severely overloading the input of the amplifier to cause clipping at the output stage. Soft-even type distortion is achieved by squaring the compressed audio signal through modulation of the amplifier gain with the compressed audio signal while it is also applied to the amplifier signal input. A mixer having three inputs respectively coupled with potentiometers respectively fed by the amplifier output, the full-wave rectifier output and the undistorted, compressed audio signal output of the compressor circuit enables a musician to mix the three signals in any desired proportion.

Monophonic touch sensitive keyboard

Inventor: Robert A. Moog
Patent number: 4213367
FILED: Feb 28, 1978
ISSUED: Jul 22, 1980

Abstract

A keyboard for a monophonic musical instrument has a plurality of touch sensitive keys which function as variable capacitors, the capacitance depending on the force applied to the keys. The variable capacitance is detected and used to produce a variable control voltage which is used to execute one or several of various control functions, such as controlling the volume of the sound produced by The instrument, controlling the cutoff frequency of a low pass filter in the output system of the instrument, controlling the amount of vibrato or other periodic modulation introduced into the sounds produced by the instrument, controlling the frequency of the vibrato or other periodic modulation, or controlling the amount of “bend” in the pitch of a sound produced by the instrument, i.e. shifting the pitch slightly from its nominal value. The variable capacitors employ a conductive elastomer which is deformed in response to the force applied to the keys. The changes in the capacitance are converted to a DC voltage which is used to control the amplitude of an output signal.

Parametric adjustment circuit

Inventor: Robert A. Moog, Richard M. Walborn

Patent number: 4166197
FILED: Mar 30, 1978
ISSUED: Aug 28, 1979

Abstract

An improved frequency sensitive circuit capable of adjusting one or more of its parameters in order to shunt an adjustable amount of electrical signal to a current sink, thereby controlling the amplitude of the signal. The frequency sensitive circuit is connected to the wiper of a potentiometer that is placed across the inputs of a difference amplifier in order to control the peak value of the cut or boost in the signal. The frequency sensitive circuit includes a shunt impedance connected between the wiper of the potentiometer and the current sink. A resonant circuit is connected to the impedance and is tuned to an adjustable resonant frequency. A compensation circuit, such as a difference amplifier referenced to the wiper, couples the output of the resonant circuit to the shunt impedance so that the impedance of the frequency sensitive circuit approaches infinity as the frequency of the electrical signal is displaced from the resonant frequency. As a result, the frequency sensitive circuit has substantially no effect on the overall amplitude of the electrical signal at frequencies widely displaced from the resonant frequency.

Compressor-expander for a musical instrument

Inventor: Robert A. Moog
Patent number: 4202238
FILED: Jun 1, 1978
ISSUED: May 13, 1980

Abstract

Electrical circuitry for varying the relative distinctiveness between the lead and rhythm audio signals produced by an electrical guitar, or the like, according to the strength with which the musician picks the guitar strings. The rhythm signal is compressed in response to how hard the player strums or picks the guitar, while the lead signal is expanded as a direct function of rhythm signal compression. An electrical signal is generated from the rhythm signal for controlling the extent of compression and expansion of the audio signals. 

Frequency following circuit

Inventor: Robert A. Moog

Patent number: 4280387
FILED: Feb 26, 1979
ISSUED: Jul 28, 1981

Abstract

A plurality of a signal peak detection circuits connected in cascade for operation on a complex waveform input signal, for generating a reference signal having peaks occurring in time with the peaks of the fundamental frequency component of the input signal. The reference signal is processed for producing a voltage proportional to the period between successive signal peaks, which voltage is successively stored and monitored at select times for comparison of the relative magnitude changes in the voltage, for updating an output control voltage.

Arrays of resistive elements for use in touch panels and for producing

Inventors: William Pepper, Jr., Robert A. Moog

Patent number: 4778951
FILED: Jan 4, 1988
ISSUED: Oct 18, 1988

Abstract

Selected touch point locating apparatus has an array of two or more electrical touch members constituted by impedance elements coupled to a circuit for causing electric current to flow through a selected touch point as the algebraic sum of separate currents through the electrical touch members. The relative amplitudes are translated into at least two signals corresponding to the location in two axes of the selected touch point.

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About the Author

Renee C. Quinn acquired a Masters of Business Administration with her course work focusing on e-Commerce and e-Business, with an emphasis on marketing via the World Wide Web. Her particular career focus to date has been on business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing. She writes on various business and social media topics for IPWatchdog.com. You can follow Renee on Twitter at IPWatchdog_Too. Renee is available to consult with individuals and businesses on how to set up and effectively use social media and social networking tools to establish a successful marketing campaign. You can contact Renee via e-mail.

3 comments
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  1. Interesting article Renee, and the list of patents is quite remarkable. Back in the mid-70’s or so, my good friend Mike and I were experimenting with similar sorts of things, totally unaware of the Moog patents of course. Mike discovered that by using the pre-amp portion of an auto-level-control type of tape recorder as a fuzz-tone effect for electric guitars, the compressor in the circuit allowed the guitars to sustain indefinitely with audio/string feedback at very low volumes. You could also do what is known as hammering on or off very easily, without having to pluck the strings of the guitar with a pick or your fingers at all. You can play Much more quickly that way,

    Other great musical innovators in using the then new Moog synthesizers were the Emerson, Lake and Palmer band, and the Edgar Winters group. Pink Floyd’s very creative Richard Wright was also a real pioneer in exploring the possibilities of what can be done with synthesizers, all thanks to Moog’s remarkable inventiveness.

    Cheers,
    SD~

  2. For any aspiring musicians out there, I discovered that after fiddling around with about 8 different sythesizer controls, I could reset them all by just refreshing the page. I saved it to my favorites, as it looks like it might take weeks to figure out how to set it up the way I like.
    http://www.google.com/doodles/robert-moogs-78th-birthday

    SD~

  3. In fond remembrance of the very brilliant Richard Wright. At about 11 minutes in, he switches to his sythesizer to his left. The light show is pretty intense, so maybe not watch the video but just listen. The new bass player was obviously enjoying being there immensely, and I tend to do the same sort of thing myself when I am really getting into it. I like to watch this video when I am feeling a little down, as it reminds of all the creativity that exists out there. Pink Floyd is an English band.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thwwd3S9rmA

    SD~