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Electronic Music Synthesizer

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Harry Olson
Harry Olson
Image courtesy of Cantos Music Foundation, www.cantos.ca
Image courtesy of Cantos Music Foundation, www.cantos.ca

In 1955, Harry Olson and Herbert Belar completed their work on the first electronic music synthesizer at RCA's David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, New Jersey. It quickly became of interest to avant-garde musicians and composers. Olson and Belar published an article entitled "Electronic Music Synthesizer" in 1955. The RCA Mark I Sound Synthesizer was intended to reduce the cost of unionized musicians in producing records and soundtracks, but RCA Victor Division ultimately rejected the technology. The Mark II was donated to the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center and the Mark I given to the Smithsonian Institution.