Google celebrated this milestone with a Google Doodle.
The studio was established in the old WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) building in Cologne on the 18th Oct, 1951. The WDR was a West German Broardcaster. Though closed in 2000, it is now regarded as the first modern Electronic Music Studio.
Forbidden Planet, by Louis and Bebe Barron was composed in 1956. They used custom built electronic circuits and tape recorders.
In these early post war days the only organisations that could afford complicated and expensive electronic equipment were national broardcasters like the BBC and WDR or universities like Colombia in the USA. These were often set up for nationistic reasons or to help in production of TV shows like Dr Who (in the case of the BBC). Before the advent of smaller & cheaper modular synthesizers, electronic musicians were heavily reliant on these institutions.
The composers Werner Meyer-Eppler, Robert Beyer, and Herbert Eimert were instrumental the foundation of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) studio. The studio welcomed musicians from all over the world including including Ernst Krenek (Austria/USA), Cornelius Cardew (England) and Nam June Paik (Korea). Karlheinz Stockhausen was one of the studios most famous artistic directors.
. (Image: Wikipedia)
The studio was set up around the idea of producing "electronically synthesised sound".
This was in sharp contrast to the "musique concrète" acoustic approach at "Groupe de Recheches Musicales" in Paris.
What instruments they used in the early years remains unclear.
(please email me if you have any info regarding this)
These were days before the concept of voltage control was in wide use so early instruments had to be operated manually.
Some of the early instruments used included a Monochord (by Dr Friedrich Trautwein ) and Melochord (by Harald Bode). The Monochord was a modified Trautonium.
There are descriptions of "the sine-wave generator", "noise generator", and "pulse generator".
Heath Ag-10 Sine & Square wave generator.
Bruel & Kjaer - Beat Frequency Oscillator
The studio also possesed Echo & reverb chambers ... large empty rooms that added ambience to
pre-recorded sounds. There are pics on the net of many tape machines in the WDR studio.... probably 4 track which would have been cutting edge back in those days.
It seems they had a customised Synthi 100 back in 1973 and a synthi 100 vocoder
Other instruments used in the studio included some from the following manufacturers:
ARP, Buchla, EMS, Hamond (organ?), Korg, Moog, Oberheim, Roland, Sequential Circuits and Yamaha.
I have read they they had a Ondes Martenot, an early Thermin, a Trautonium and a Telharmonium, but i can't confirm this. If you have any info regarding this please let me know.