Friday, October 31, 2008

Minimoog mystery solved, maybe

Back in March, I put up this post on the mystery of who owns the first production Minimoog. At the time, there appeared to be two contenders: The Eboard Museum in Austria has a unit that they advertise as being S/N #1001. The Audities Foundation owns one that several third parties who have seen or used it claim is #1001 (the Foundation itself made no such claim, which should have been the first clue, but there was a confounding factor which I'll get to in a moment).

The Moog Archives seems to have resolved the dilemma. It now appears that the Eboard folks do in fact own production #1001. Audities also owns a unit #1001 -- but it's not a production unit; it's a prototype Model C! (All of the vintage production Minis are Model D, except for the handful known as the "Welsh Minis".) The Audities photo that I reproduced in the March post is not this synth. Here is that synth:

Note a few things about it. The big thing is the pitch and mod wheels -- they are completely different from anything that ever appeared on a production Mini. In fact, I'm not sure that they are wheels at all; they may be sliders. Second, note the A-440 oscillator switch; it's a plain toggle switch rather than the typical rocker, and it's a bit to the right of where the production Mini has it. Third, the pilot light: It's higher up on the panel than the production article.

(The thing sitting on the panel that covers the keyboard keys' hinge mechanisms appears to be a ribbon controller of some sort. My guess is that it was added later.)

I had speculated in the March post that Moog may have assigned serial numbers to prototypes and then later re-used those numbers for production units. And sure enough, it appears that that's what happened here. Another clue to the Eboard one is the white-background logo plate, whose legitimacy I had questioned back in March. The Moog Archives now says it's legit; it's the earliest version of the R. A. Moog logo. Unfortunately, we don't have the Audities one to compare to; if it ever had a logo plate, it appears that it was removed when the ribbon controller was installed.

I think we can conclude that the Eboard Museum legitimately has the first production Minimoog. The Audities Foundation has a prototype.

1 comment:

Audities said...

Our Mini proto model D is NOT a model C. All of the model C's were perf board constructions. NO PCBs inside at all. We have a model C sitting right next to it for comparison and the differences are huge. In fact the ONLY thing that gives any credence whatsoever to the Moog Archives deduction is a photo of this instrument with "Minimoog C" written in pencil on the back of the photo. Well here's one for you: The model "B" has an inscribed PLATE on the back of it calling IT a model "C". We've had these instruments in the Audities collection for 13 years now. We've played them, researched and documented them thoroughly in that time with Jim Scott, Bob Moog, Bill Hemsath, Chad Hunt, Richie Walbourne and against the documentation in the archives here. The Model D prototype was given to Chris Swansen in 1970 for demo work that he did for Moog (he was Bob's favorite tester) and the instrument remained with Chris' widow until it's inclusion in the Audities Foundation collection in 1997.

Again, it's NOT production 1001 and was never CLAIMED to be. All of the Moog engineers that worked on the Minis say the FOUR model C's were Perf Board constructions. This instrument has early PCBs. The model C has no fuse holders in the back. The model C has no power light. The model C has plastic connection plates glued to the back of the instrument...on and on go the differences. The construction of this Model D prototype has very little to do with the Model C testbed units. It's simply a prototype D that was extensively tested before the first 30 wheel control production D units were built.

David Kean
The Audities Foundation