By Andrea Caccese
Synthesizers are now an absolute staple of the electronic music genre as well as pop and even some forms of rock music. It's hard to imagine that "the sound of the future" might be older than you think, after all. Meet the world's oldest synth, the fascinating and quirky Telharmonium. This bulky musical apparatus was actually built in 1901: to put things into perspective, that's over ten years before the legendary Titanic was hit by an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.
Although it wasn't exactly as flexible or portable as the huge variety of synthesizers available today, the Telharmonium certainly paved the way to the future. Back in the day, the synth was not successful at all. Inventor Thaddeus Cahill conceived the machine back in 1893, as a way to transmit music via phone. The patent for the Telharmonium, obtained in 1896, actually features a reference to "synthesizing", making it an official first incarnation of the world's most revolutionary instrument. At a staggering 200 tons in weight and 60 feet in length, this massive instrument occupied the entire floor of the Telharmonic Hall on 39th Street and Broadway. The unit was hosted there for about 20 years, but it never gained momentum or popularity. Eventually, the last existing prototype was sold for scraps for lack of interest.
Hats off to innovators ahead of their time such as Thaddeus Cahill, the guy who led the way to one of the world's most important musical innovations. Come over and have a taste of the latest innoation through our introductory lesson to electronic music production at The Foxgrove.
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