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Synthesizer Pioneer Don Buchla Dies at Age 79

News, Technology | Sep 16, 2016   

Synthesizer Pioneer Don Buchla Dies at Age 79

Don Buchla, inventor of the Buchla Box, has passed away at age 79. The peer of Bob Moog technically built a modular synthesizer before Moog Music did.

Buchla graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics before he engineered his first voltage-controlled synthesizer in 1963. He would go on to invent the the 200 series Electric Music Box (1970), the Buchla Music Easel (1972), the Touché (1978), the Buchla 400 (1982), the Buchla 700 with MIDI (1987), the OB-Mx (1995), the Thunder (1990) and Lightning (1991), and the Piano Bar (2002).


Although Buchla never called it a synthesizer, the first Buchla Box made in 1963 gave musicians a way to create sounds electronically. The individual modules of the device were advanced enough to make a lot of interesting sounds, and the nifty patches let producers program any combination they could imagine. Buchla opted for a touch sensitive controller instead of a keyboard because he wanted to inspire musicians to create music in a new way.

Today many well known artists still use the modern version, including Alessandro Cortini of Nine Inch Nails.

While many people consider Moog to be the best brand of synthesizers, the company itself has a deep appreciation of Buchla’s work, and even sell some of his products. Moog Music has said many kind things about Buchla in the past, and has released the following eulogy:

There are no words that can accurately portray the profound impact you have had on our lives. We are deeply inspired by your artistry, and your ground-breaking achievements will always inform the work we hold most closely to our hearts. You and Bob, through your distinctive styles, collaboration and friendship, have laid the foundation for our future. Your influence endures in our minds, hearts and hands as we craft tools that give rise to joyful experimentations. We will never truly capture the elegance and beauty that you and Bob achieved, but we promise to never stop trying...thank you for inspiring us and giving meaning to our life’s work.

To learn more about Buchla’s groundbreaking line of synthesizers, visit the official website of Buchla Musical Instruments

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