Douglas Curtis

Douglas Curtis

Passed gently from this world on January 10 following a five month battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, and mourned by extended family including two sisters, two nephews and a niece.Doug is known to the music industry as the founder of Curtis Electromusic Specialties where he developed twenty signal-processing products for electronic music synthesizers and audio equipment. He holds three patents for various elements of his signal processing methodology. Several more patents in his name are assigned for chips designed into various commercial products. When the advent of digital technology and software changed the electronic music industry, Doug broadened his focus beyond synthesizers forming OnChip Systems. He was recently inducted in to the San Jose Rocks Hall of Fame.Doug was known for his intelligence, love of family and nature, and his steadfastness. A funeral mass will be held at St. Mary's Church in Los Gatos. Donations in his honor may be directed to PANCAN.
Published by San Jose Mercury News on Jan. 14, 2007.
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77 Entries
Thinking of you, good brother Doug.
Liz Fortini
January 9, 2021
Your legacy lives on. 10 years after your passing, so-called "Curtis Chips" are held in almost reverence amongst the synth / gearhead community. It's a tribute to his design that the CEM chips almost single-handedly spawned an industry; low-cost polyphonic synthesizers. And these chips still live on. I have a handful here in my stash of vintage synth repair parts.
Alison Cassidy
April 23, 2017
I just read that my good friend Doug Curtis, programmed the synthesizer chips used by Van Halen, for the song JUMP. At my mountain home at Serene Lake, I used to wake my boys up on powder days, by playing JUMP at full volume on my 1957 Seeburg 200 Jukebox. The jukebox was in the basement at 7000 ft, and Doug Curtis had a cabin by the lake about ¼ mile away…3 degrees of separation…Doug was a sweet guy with a wonderful family…a pleasure to know him. I know he is skiing in deep powder in heaven… JUMP!
RC Morton
December 31, 2012
I'd like to thank Duoglas for the countless hours of fun I had designing with his chips. He found a way to make other people's job not only better, but more enjoyable.
Vaya con Dios, Douglas.
Alfredo Castro Martin
July 13, 2010
Farewell Mr Curtis ! I am presently working with your fabulous CEM3394 trying to create a new musical instrument ! Please send me positive vibes from the infinite universe that i am hoping you are visiting now . Respect to the Curtis family !
February 10, 2010
My sincerest condolences to the Curtis family .
I hope it is a comfort for you to know his legacy will have a timeless unfathomable affect that has and will continue to touch many peoples on all corners of this world forever .
David Wilkinson
October 19, 2008
Lamento profundamente su muerte y estoy conmocionado, porque ahora mismo leyendo éstas páginas lo he sabido.Soy fiel admirador de sus aplicaciones analógicas...y aún disfruto de ello, haciendo sonar su mayor aportación musical...un viejo Prophet5.Douglas Curtis por siempre en nuestras almas.
Enrique Iriarte
July 23, 2008
Doug Curtiss was the magician who inspired the keyboards of my dreams. What sadness now that the magic is gone!
Massimo Ischia
March 16, 2008
I cannot tell you how overwhelmed with sadness I am at Doug's passing. As a close friend of Mary's for 40+ years, I feel her loss and pain.
Beth Epand
January 24, 2008
Mary, Ashley, and Julie,
Doug was the sweetest, gentlest, intelligent man I've been lucky enough to know. He touched my heart, as do you all. I knew him as a great father to his girls, a loving husband to his wife, and a funny guy backstage at all those theatrical events and school fieldtrips. His spirit lives on, in our hearts and in the heavens. Much love, Janice
janice tilford
November 16, 2007
I knew Doug from childhood in the Berkshires, and our families have been close for ages. Even our fathers were friends...

In that spirit, I wish for everyone reading this, and especially Doug's dear family, to reflect with delight on the many many qualities that distinguished him as a man. The good die young, as they say; leaving the rest of us in wonder.
Dave Dalzell
November 2, 2007
Farewell, Mr Curtis. Your influence will be forever felt in the music world, and in the music I make in my home. Thank you for all you've done.
C Berchin
January 17, 2007
There are few electronic music or amateur radio experimenters who were not influenced by the work of Mr. Curtis. Doug made o lot of things a lot easier for many people.

Please accept my deepest sympathy in this time of grief.
Charles Osthelder
January 17, 2007
Doug Curtis's contribution to music was similar to that of the late Dr. Robert Moog. Where Moog showed us what to build, Doug showed us how to build it with great quailty and a very low price. Many songs use his parts, the one that comes to mind is Van Halen's "Jump" - that whole synth solo is Curtis ElectroMusic oscillators, filters, and envelope generaters. Many of his designs are on display here at the New England Synthesizer Museum. Now considered obsolete, the parts were taken from us too soon, and now their inventor has been taken from us too soon as well. Sigh.
David Wilson
January 16, 2007
He brought a new level of capability to a great number of musical instruments. Many of my favorites are full of his designs and I have been inspired to build my own. His work has enhanced the music industry and touched many people. My deepest sympathies.
Dave Brown
January 16, 2007

I just want to express my sincere condolences. His contributions have inspired many of us to build our own analog & digital synthesizer systems siuch as what I am currently doing.

Logan Mitchell Sr, Baltimore MD
Logan Mitchell Sr
January 16, 2007
What can possibly be said? Every last one of us who has reaped the fruits of Doug's labors keenly feels his passing. He is a prime example of the kind of legacy that I believe we would all like to leave behind.
Sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Dave Garfield
January 16, 2007
Few people are as influential in their fields as Doug Curtis was in his. His work enabled and inspired many people, directly and indirectly, in both the technical and creative sides of the music world.
John Mahoney
January 16, 2007
I pray that God will comfort the Curtis family and all those mourning Doug's loss, and also that you will be able to receive the love that is expressed here by all of us synth-geeks who are so grateful for Doug's work, yet never knew him personally. I pray that all of us synth-geeks will take this opportunity to step back from the knobs and ponder the Big Picture.
Larry David
January 16, 2007
I was completely shocked today when I found out about Doug's passing. As many have noted, he was the kindest, gentlest spirit, and had such a huge influence on the sound and creation of so many famous synthesizer designs. His contributions and creations will live on through many artists' works. My condolences to Mary and all the family for this unbelieveable loss.

John Bowen
January 16, 2007
Many condolences to the Curtis family- a sad loss to them and also to world of synthesizers that he helped create. Some of my best moments as a teenager involved playing the gear that his chips were built into. The digisound 80 modular which mainly used Doug's chips was one of the greatest influences in my synth building career.....Rest In Peace
Ken MacBeth
January 16, 2007
I am saddend to hear of this loss to the electronic music community. Doug's chip desings got me started in building electronic music circuits while in college, and it's something that I continue doing to this day. I'd never met Doug, but he had a great influence me. Thanks, Doug for the great work! The CEM chips that I have in my parts box are highly prized!
Phil Peery
January 16, 2007
Like so many others, my earliest introduction to synthesizer design and construction was through Doug's excellent ICs, and his work has enriched my life. I was greatly saddened to hear of his passing. My condolences to the Curtis family.
January 16, 2007
I would like to express my sincerest condolences to Mr. Curtis' family and his friends. He was a true visionary and took synthesis to another level - another dimension actually, and he leaves us a lasting and beautiful legacy. Rest In Peace.
Dan Austin
January 16, 2007
Mr. Curtis was an inventor, a great person and surely, we will remember him as the CEM master :-) CEM made us all love the good music synthesizers.
Jan Czmok
January 16, 2007
I wish to express my condolences to Doug's family and friends.

Doug’s passing was really a knockdown message for me. I met him first about 25 years ago when we became the European representative of his famous synthesizer circuits and got to know him as one of the nicest, kindest persons I have ever met. We used and still use his excellent circuits in our products.

The music and the music industry would not be the same without him. We will miss you.

Dieter Doepfer (Graefelfing, Germany)
Dieter Doepfer
January 16, 2007
Deepest condolences for your loss. Doug will be rememberered for the joy and delight that his work bought to synthesists, DIYers, musos and listeners the world over. Thank you!
Tim Cockram
January 16, 2007
Douglas Curtis will be missed by family, friends and for all those working and playing synths, who understand his contribution to music. Tonight I will fire up my Ensoniq ESQm and Oberheim Matrix 6r and 1000 and play a moving melody in Douglas's name. Douglas will not be forgotten and his spirit and sound lives on.
Tuan Nguyen
January 15, 2007
Doug's work gave me my spring board into my electronics, software and instrument making career. Thank you Doug. He will be sorely missed by so many.
Veronica M
January 15, 2007
Curtis' chips are highly prized, fetching good prices on the used market, and are STILL being used in Dave Smith's Evolver line. Few people have had as much impact on synthesizer technology as Doug Curtis. Bow your head, tip your hat, say a prayer, or do whatever you feel is right to give the man his due for his accomplishements. Mr. Curtis will be missed.
Tim Parkhurst
January 15, 2007
Thank you Douglas, YOur designs are just as important as Moog was. Rest in peace.
Koos Fockens
January 15, 2007
Thanks for all the fun times playing and building synths. The CEM databook and chips were a big jumpstart for me. Thanks Doug.
David Moylan
January 15, 2007
Thank you Doug for creating something that touched so many people. You will be missed.
Larry Leitner
January 15, 2007
I look around in my studio and see a variety of synthesizers from several manufacturers, all of which contain Doug's designs. Then I think back to how pervasive those syntheiszers have been over the last few decades, and there is rarely a popular song that wasn't either directly (or indirectly) using one of Doug's designs. It's undeniable that Doug's contribution to the music community is incredible and the engineering and music world, at a very minimum, is much better because of him. Engineering of his caliber is what all other engineers should aspire to. His ingenuity and elegance of design will be greatly missed.
Neil Bradley
January 15, 2007
I did not know Mr Curtis but I used his designs. One of my instruments is built around six of his chips. His work lives on.
André Majorel
January 15, 2007
Doug has truley inspired musicians and engineers alike, he was a rare and wonderful person. His creativity lives on in the CEM based analog synthesizers I build and play.
Rob Keeble
January 15, 2007
While the electronic music world would likely have progressed without your contributions, no one would have had as much fun.
To that, thanks for the doing most of the hard work for us.
Kevin Lightner
January 15, 2007
I wish to express my condolences. I did not know Doug personally, but I have worked with his designs for more than 20 years. The music industry owes him a great debt of gratitude. He will be missed.
M Jaynes
January 15, 2007
He was the man behind the scenes that helped to create so many wonderful musical instruments. I wish I could have thanked him in person for his contributions that helped enrich the lives of so many of us. He lives on in our memories and music.
Ivan Schwartz
January 15, 2007
I don't think it's possible to fully describe the effect Doug had on electronic music worldwide.

I know I would not be doing what I do now... in fact, I would probably never had gotten into electronic music at all.

we all owe him a big debt of gratitude.

my sympathies,
Mike Brown
January 15, 2007
I'd like to express my condolences to Doug's family and friends.

Like many here, a big piece of my personal and professional life was greatly affected by Doug's analog synth chips. I still have my datasheets from high school in the late '70s, when I was designing my own circuit boards to build a synthesizer using the original 3310/3320/3330/3340 combination. Almost 30 years later, these chips are still coveted for their great design and great sound.

In college I did several more designs using these chips. They made so much of the classic age of analog poly synths possible that it's hard to think what the late '70s and early '80s would have been like without them.

I never met Doug, but I wish I had and had the chance to thank him for bringing an amazing amount of pleasure to both engineer-types and music fans alike.

David Rogoff
January 15, 2007
Doug changed the world! My condolances to his family and friends.
Niels Moseley
January 15, 2007
My condelances go to the Curtis family.
He was a great man for the music industry.
He will never be forgotten and his designs will always be with us for the next 50 years (or more) !!!
Thank you for your great chip designs!
dennis verschoor
January 15, 2007
I imagine there are many 50-somethings like me that now think back on how life was for us in our 20's. Doug's chips were wonderful! Simple to design with; most of the "work" done - the full function IC's began the "building block" approach to electronic design and especially synth design. Now, even with 30 years of electronics development - we miss them. I have read each data sheet probably 100 times. I looked through some today and I still feel a feeling that is hard to describe. Thanks Doug for your work, vision, and for influencing my life's direction.
Barry Klein
January 15, 2007
To Doug's family, I wish you comfort in this sad time. I am very sorry for your loss. Doug Curtis rocked the world of music with his technical genius and we are all grateful for his inventions. I never met him but I know he was a kind and generous man as well. Farewell, Doug.
Scott Warren
January 15, 2007
I never knew Doug personally, but as a synthesizer player for 30 years now, I can say without a doubt, that his legacy is all the wonderful music that was created because of his efforts. The world is a richer place for Douglas Curtis.
David Bartz
January 15, 2007
My sincere condolenses to family and friends of Douglas Curtis. I did not know him personally, but he has influenced people with passion for technology and music worldwide. Some of the best synthesizers made are based on the hard and creative work of Douglas Curtis. You will be missed.
Frode Hov
January 15, 2007
So very sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my brother to pancreatic cancer less than 6 months ago - he was only 42 - but watching what he had to go through was one of the toughest experiences of my life. I know the grief you must be experiencing and pray that God will give you the strength and comfort you need during this time.
R. M.
January 15, 2007
I never knew Doug personally but his inventions and technology have been and will remain at the heart of my musical creations.
Nicholas D. Kent
January 15, 2007
I never talked to him. And I am not sure if I ever saw a picture of him before. But I know his work and it is here at my home for 20 years:
his superb analog chips for synths changed the keyboard industry.
So the Curtis sound will live on.

My thought are with you now, where ever you are right now.

keep on turning these knobs
Till Kopper
January 15, 2007
I too never met Doug personally, but I am pained by the world's loss. Doug's work in signal processing and electronic musical systems has inspired a life-long interest and love. His work will not be forgotten soon, nor will any of the music made with his circuits.
Joan Touzet
January 15, 2007
I am yet another musician and electronics enthusiast who was enabled by Doug's designs. The world of analog synthesizers was incredibly enriched by Doug, and his legacy lives on in all the wonderful instruments who speak through his chips. They will be lovingly tended by their owners for generations.
Dave Bradley
January 15, 2007
It is a tragedy to lose a man with all those talents, one who gave so much to musicians around the world. There are not many like his kind that come along in this world. My sincere condolences to the family that lost a loving husband and father.
Michael Caloroso
January 15, 2007
Condolences to his family. Together with Bob Moog, he was one of those fabulous minds who, without knowing it, strongly influenced my life, as well as that of many other synthesizer lovers.
January 15, 2007
God Blessed us with his genuis and grace, he now has left us or so some may believe. He will always be here and also there, in a place of peace. Think of his bliss to lift your spirit.
William Longstreet
January 15, 2007
I'm saddened to hear of Doug's passing. His contribution to the electronics of music is inestimable. There is a world of music that could have never existed were it not for Doug's insight and creativity. He will be sorely missed.
Scott Stites
January 15, 2007
The snyh world will miss you, you will be playing the great analog synth in the sky.
Giovanni Laudicina
January 15, 2007
I didn't know Doug personally but built some music makers using his terrific designs. One life touches so many others. Thanks.
John Papiewski
January 15, 2007
Dougs work touched so many people, from engineers, through musicians to those who listened to the sounds created. A wonderful inspired man.
Mike Pepper
January 15, 2007
Although I never had the opportunity to meet Douglas, his work was an inspiration. The sounds and instruments that were created using his designs got many people interested in music and synthesis, myself included. He had more influence than he knew. RIP.
Tom Wiltshire
January 15, 2007
My sincere condolenses to family and friends of Doug Curtis ,someone i never met but who's contribution to the world of electronic music will not be forgotten.
aliis vorbach
January 15, 2007
I never met Doug, but never heard a bad word about him from those who did know him. He should be honored as one of the key figures in analog synthesizer history. There must be hundreds of thousands of musicians worldwide who have been inspired by his creations - most of them probably unknowingly.
Peter Forrest
January 15, 2007
While I never knew Doug personally, he had a profound effect on my life in the form of his technical achievements at CES. This led me to fulfilling my dream of being a synthesizer designer for many years, and has given me one of the greatest gifts I have ever known, which is the ability to reconcile my intellectual and creative sides.

You will be missed, even from afar. And in the next world I hope you can see what an influence you had on generations of people in our lifetimes, and even more to come in the future.
Joe Grisso
January 15, 2007
I'm so sorry to hear that Doug Curtis has passed away.
I never met him in person, but his work on synthesizer electronics had a deep influence on me. I cannot count the hours I have spent reading Doug's patents and data sheets. He has changed the music industry; and to myself he was a major source for learning electronics.
Rest in peace, Doug Curtis. I'll remember you every time I play on that wonderful OB-8, which is completely built around your ICs.

Juergen Haible
January 15, 2007
Doug's chips made electronic music what it is today...he was a true "unsung hero" - synth makers were well known but it was Doug's circuits beating at their core that gave them "heart". He will be very sorely missed.
James Maier
January 15, 2007
You have my utmost condolences, and it is my sincerest hope that his family can overcome this difficult period.

Doug Curtis has left an indelible mark on history. By helping make electronic instruments more affordable and accessible than ever before, his inventions have shaped the lives of many musicians, and have changed the face of music forever. I think that I speak for many people when I say “thank you”.
Dmitry Shklyar
January 15, 2007
I didn't know Mr. Curtis personally, but I do know that he's responsible for a lot of great music being made over the past 30 years, thanks to the integrated circuits he designed. He left great legacy, one which will continue to grow. I hope that his passing will reveal to those close to him just how many lives he touched through his work.
J. McEachin
January 15, 2007
I can't express how much I appreciate Doug's work. What a great legacy. A pioneer in exploring the vast depths of sonic possibilities in electronics and making it possible for so many to enjoy those benefits in creating and playing entirely new and beautiful instruments. He will not be soon forgotten.
Robert Weigel
January 15, 2007
Thanks for the synth polyphony! Your CEMsare the second revolution fo electroacustic. RIP
Antonio Tuzzi
January 15, 2007
As a working musician I owe much to Doug's ingenuity & design skills. I am indebted to him for having played a large part in creating some of the most wonderful instruments known to us. RIP.
Peter Cornell
January 15, 2007
My thoughts are with you. Doug Curtis is a hero in the synth community. My first synthesizer was an Oberheim Matrix-6 which used Doug's chips. What he created has been used in numerous synths and has had a tremendous impact on my life for the better. I run a little synth site that receives several thousand hits a day. We all know what Doug Curtis did for our community with his CEM chips and we thank him for that. Please know our thoughts, best wishes, and prayers are with you at this time.
matrix synth
January 15, 2007
I didn't know Doug personally, but I have appreciated his contribution to electronic music for about 25 years. RIP.
Jason Proctor
January 15, 2007
Thousands of musicians owe a part of their sonic vocabulary to Doug Curtis' innovations. Doug's work still lives on in musical instruments and recordings worldwide. Thank you.
Robert Rich
January 15, 2007
Doug & I worked together off and on for almost 20 years. I still remember the very first time I called (when the business was still CES) and when he answered, I thought he was the receptionist. I assumed that a famous IC designer would never speak to lowly engineers that called asking stupid questions. Doug talked to me for an *hour*. This led to LOTS of phone calls, meetings and joint patents (OK Doug did most of the work). The analog synthesizer community, still active today, owes much to Doug and his brilliant mind. Mary may even remember Doug dragging me to the house to eat spagetti. She did not like me putting the Matrix 12 synth in the bedroom. I doubt I will ever meet another engineer that was as clever and gracious as Doug. He will be missed by 1000s of musicians all over the world.
Paul Schreiber
January 15, 2007
We celebrate with you what a wonderful, positive, friendly man Doug was. It was our privilege to have known him. Our thoughts are with you now.
Kim, Jane and Jenna Olson
Jane Olson
January 14, 2007
What a wonderful person and brother Doug was to me and us all; my family will greatly miss him.
Liz Fortini
January 14, 2007
Our thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
pat fortini
January 14, 2007
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