Synthesizers began life as a way to electronically reproduce or recreate organic, acoustic sounds like pianos, stringed instruments, brass and flutes, however through experimentation people quickly realized that they could do so much more than this.
It was in the mid to late 60’s and early 70’s that synthesizers made their way into popular music and became a staple of electronic musicians like Brian Eno, Kraftwerk and Vangelis. New manufacturers like Moog, ARP and Buchla made monster Modular synthesizers that needed patch cords to create sounds. These synths are entirely analog and were somewhat difficult to use. It wasn’t until pioneer synthesizer maker, Robert Moog made the now legendary analog Mini Moog mono synth that creating a sound became a lot easier. The Mini Moog found itself on almost every popular record made in the early 80’s with bands like Human League, Gary Numan and Depeche Mode all falling in love with it.
By the mid to late 80’s Japanese Brands like Yamaha and Korg began to dominate the synthesizer market with new digital synthesizers like the Yamaha DX7 and Korg M1, while Roland were making hybrid analog and digital synths like the Juno and Jupiter series. A new breed of artists from Detroit and Chicago began to make use of these new synthesizers in combination with older analog synths to produce an entirely new sound and genre of music called House and Techno. This quickly spread to all corners of the planet and diversified into many electronic sub-genres.
Recently there has been a rekindling of the big analog modular synths of days gone past through a new format called Eurorack. Eurorack synthesizers are essentially made up of many individual modules that all adhere to a special format called Eurorack started in the 90’s by Doepfer. Eurorack modules started out purely analog, however there are now many manufactures making digital modules too. This is very exciting as the combination of analog warmth and digital flexibility is extremely useful and flexible.