Would the "80s" music sound--not hair metal, but syth-pop--have developed without integrated circuits? Can you get the 80s synth sound from solid state components?
After much listening and research, I think
Robert Moog is probably best known for his
development of modular sound synthesizers, but he also codified a method of
generating sound electronically and patented several electronic
devices including high and low pass filters.
Moog was one of
those guys who didn't take what already existed and make it something
different, he built a whole new musical realm from scratch. He
systematized the electronic production of sounds into a set of
functions, then designed standardized modules that could replicate
each function using analog circuitry and a 1 volt to 1 octave scale.
Each module stood alone but had multiple inputs and outputs that
connected to other modules with patch cables (much like old telephone
switchboards). Each module controlled different aspects of the sound
such as the frequency (pitch), attenuation (volume), and cutoff
frequency (timbre). The central module was the voltage-controlled
oscillator (VCO) that generated a signal that could vary from sine,
square and sawtooth waveforms. The VCO's output could then be modified
by the other modules. The whole setup could be controlled by pretty much
any sort of device, including a timed sequencer, a ribbon controller,
or even a white noise generator. Most users preferred a piano keyboard
Moog's close collaboration with Wendy Carlos, led her to construct a high-fidelity eight-track tape recorder from old studio
equipment that she used in conjunction with a Moog synthesizer setup to
produce her 1968 album Switched On Bach, which became one of the highest-selling classical music recordings ever released.
Brandenburgisches Konzert Nr. 3 in G-Dur, 1. Satz (Moog)
Carlos went on to use Moog systems to score soundtracks for A Clockwork Orange and Tron.
You can find an exceptional documentary about Moog here: Inventor of the Synthesizer Documentary ~ Moog: A Film by Hans Fjellestad
the wide availability of cheap manufactured synthesizers and easy to
assemble IC synth kits, people still hand-build analog synthesizers
today, and the analog synthesizer database offers details on a plethora