Elisha Gray (August 2, 1835 – January 21, 1901) was an American electrical engineer who co-founded the Western Electric Manufacturing Company. Gray is best known for his development of a telephone prototype in 1876 in Highland Park, Illinois and is considered by some writers to be the true inventor of the variable resistance telephone, despite losing out to Alexander Graham Bell for the telephone patent.
Gray is also considered to be the father of the modern music synthesizer, and was awarded over 70 patents for his inventions.
The first electric synthesizer was invented in 1876 by Elisha Gray. The “Musical Telegraph” was a chance by-product of his telephone technology when Gray accidentally discovered that he could control sound from a self-vibrating electromagnetic circuit and so invented a basic oscillator. The Musical Telegraph used steel reeds oscillated by electromagnets and transmitted over a telephone line. Gray also built a simple loudspeaker device into later models, which consisted of a diaphragm vibrating in a magnetic field.