Bob Moog Foundation Suffers Setback

bob-moog-foundationThe Bob Moog Foundation – a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the legacy of Bob Moog – suffered a setback today as Moog’s widow announced plans to donate Moog’s personal archive to Cornell University, rather than to The Foundation.

The archive includes Bob Moog’s notes, plans, drawings and recordings – a collection that documents the origin of the synthesizer as we know it an important part of electronic music history.

walter-carlos-clockwork-orangeThe Asheville, NC Mountain Xpress reported today that Moog’s widow, Ileana Grams-Moog, plans to donate his personal archive to the Cornell University Library in Ithaca, N.Y.. This decision comes over the objections of Michelle Moog-Koussa, head of the Bob Moog Foundation and Moog’s daughter with first wife Shirleigh Moog.

“We believe firmly that Bob Moog’s archives belong in Western North Carolina,” says Moog-Koussa. “Western North Carolina was my father’s spiritual home for 25 years.”

Opposing Views Pit Family Against Family

The decision to move Moog’s archives from Asheville pits opposing views about how best to preserve his legacy against each other – and family against family.

Grams-Moog, Moog’s widow plans to move Moog’s archives from Asheville and the Moog Foundation to Cornell, Moog’s alma matter.

“It was Bob’s wish that his archives be preserved and made accessible to other scientists, inventors, engineers and innovators,” says Moog’s widow, Grams-Moog.

“It has been eight years since my husband’s death and I am happy that my gift to Cornell will finally make this rich collection available,” she adds. “Bob would be pleased to know his life’s work is finally being properly preserved and made available to current and future generations to advance upon his work.”

michelle-moug-koussaWhile Moog-Koussa, right, acknowledges that her stepmother has legal rights to the archives, the bulk of the archive is currently under the care of The Foundation.

“It’s important that the archives remain here with the foundation,” says Moog-Koussa, “Not only are we best suited to care for them, but we’re best suited to interpret them.”

“Our hearts are heavy with this decision,” adds Moog’s first daughter, Laura Moog-Lanier. “Know that my siblings and I have profound respect for my sister Michelle Moog-Koussa and her staff at the Bob Moog Foundation .”

“This move is about nothing more than exerting ones power,” she adds. “The thing that frustrates me the most is putting words in my dad’s mouth – from the grave, no less.

“This sudden, arbitrary decision is extremely baffling and disappointing to me,” laments Moog Foundation Archive and Education Specialist Marc Doty. “There is really nowhere better equipped to interpret Bob Moog’s archives than the Bob Moog Foundation.”

Despite the setback, The Foundation’s Moog-Koussa is looking forward.

“No matter what happens, the Bob Moog Foundation will continue to carry on Bob Moog’s legacy, and that his legacy is alive and well in our educational projects, which are thriving in this area.”

74 thoughts on “Bob Moog Foundation Suffers Setback

  1. Why is this a setback? Cornell is more than equipped to handle the materials as an ARCHIVE. Does the Foundation have professional archivists on staff to work with the materials?

    I’m sorry but as someone who has a profession involvement in this area, this is a non-issue …

  2. Does it really have to be like this? I agree it is more over a non-issue but its being made into one and guarantee to generate publicity. That that will getting eaten quickly.

  3. Nowhere in the excerpts presented here does it say why exactly the Moog Foundation is better equipped to interpret the archives. What a strange way of putting it by the way. In my mind an archive is there for everyone and it’s not a bunch of gold plates in a hat that needs to be interpreted for the unwashed masses by a chosen few. These are all (I presume) engineering notes that need little to no interpretation either way unless Bob was somewhat sloppy and people need to fill in the gaps where he didn’t bother to write down things that to him were cleare as crystal. And I’d say that such a kind of inerpolation, perhaps with the goal of creating a multi-volume “Bob Moog’s Writings on Engineering and Music” to be put on the shelves of universities and enthusiasts everywhere, is best done by engineers and in a university setting. Think about who similar compilations of the writings of great scientists and phiilosophers came about. Donating the archive to a university makes so much sense to me that I would not even dream to think of an alternative.

  4. Does the moog foundation not have a camera or xerox machine? Or is Asheville somehow in a pre-information age bubble? Take pictures and let a world class library hold the originals, it will save money ultimately.

  5. A university library does seem like the logical place to house this material. If it were a choice between some place like UNC or NCSU, I could see an argument for keeping it in North Carolina — but Cornell is a great engineering school, they’ve got top-notch facilities, and they’ll do a great job. Plus, it’s nearby to me, so I like that too.

    1. YES! thats exactly what i thought too, i even start to dislike bob moog himself just because of that foundation.

      get a job, stop trying to make money off of entry fees and tshirt prints and hand the material over to an university

      thats ridiculous

  6. This is a slap in the face to Michelle and all that she has been fighting to achieve. She has worked so hard to preserve the great man’s legacy and teachings in every way that she can, and he would have been proud of her and what she has done. If it wasn’t for her and her team, the archives would still be in a shed somewhere, and his legacy would have been a fading memory instead of a beacon for the future. And I doubt that his widow, with all respect to her, would have paid to have them catalogued and transported how she has. The BMF does an outstanding job in every way. A sad day indeed.

    1. This is too bad for the Moog Foundation.

      Keep in mind that it’s the Moog Foundation that’s been preserving Moog’s documents and prototypes, promoting his memory and doing the dirty work of raising the money to make it happen

      At least the materials will be preserved at Cornell – but you can’t assume that Cornell is automatically going to have the money or the people to do justice to Moog’s archives or his legacy.

      1. yeah an engineering university for sure doesnt have the people to archive and work with schematics of discrete electronics.

        nooooo .. better give it some private bob moog wonderland park, that will let you in for 20 bucks to sell you a thsirt for 30 and let you play on some brandnew minimoogs … for 50cent a minute hehe

  7. I think it’s sad that there’s oposite thoughts about this within the family. The documents should be made available for those who seek to learn from this great legacy, they should also be cared for in proper instalations, so as to preserve the originals – that carry with them historic value. If this holds true in both options, then it’s really a non-issue. But if there’s a Foundation in place, made by someone in the family, it’s really kind of wierd – to me – that the documents should go elsewhere. But as I said, I’m not even remotely familiar with the ups and downs of either option here…

  8. Based on this article, it seems that some opportunties for compromise were missed (which would indicate some degree of animosity). I could see how the Foundation could have been granted high-resolution copies of all print material, and media (surrendering originals to the university) — which still may be possible–, but also been permitted to keep some key pieces that would be appropriate for display at the Ashville facility.

    Bob Moog has had a profound and unique inflluence on music technology. And both the foundation and the company have continued to honor the Moog name in a nice way.

  9. I can understand, from a purely historical reason, why Ileana would Cornell, seeing as how this is where Bob got his PhD in engineering physics. And perhaps they are better equipped to house and interpret them from a purely technical side of things for students in electronics there.

    But I have to say, I totally agree Michelle. What’s really important is for the items to stay in at the Foundation because, although they are of a technical nature, they do give context and history to the actual physical synths and other electronics there. In educating children, most may not gain an immediate insight from these things….but you never know who will be inspired. Plus there are the intangibles such as this….these items ARE Bob Moog writ large. All the great inventors are long gone….as all people will go someday. But they leave a part of themselves in their inventions and their diagrams and maps and charts, etc. These are their minds and their spirits on paper. They should stay, if for nothing else, at the Foundation.

    1. Sorry but even if michelle is right you will not be able to fight against the wind of powerful money grabbing universities like Cornell. Already in the comment someone said it is good because Cornell is not too far from where they live. so the context the place of birth is being trumped by the context of convenience for some intellectuals, who never pay for their own gear to “challenge” the mind and the wallet of the next generation of modern day electronic Luthiers…

      The widow and Cornell could have found a compromise but at least it is not as bad as moving corpses from one village to another like what is sadly happening in South Africa with the family of a famous Nobel peace prize winner.

  10. It’s not like The Moog Foundation kept the material in a cardboard box in the damp corner of a leaky basement. According to the Asheville, NC Mountain Xpress article Moog-Kousssa stated “”We’ve dedicated a large part of our work to protecting, preserving and sharing [the archive]” and The Bob Moog Foundation “has signed a lease with the North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources to [house the] archives in a new east Asheville facility.”

    The archive is an important resource for The Bob Moog Foundation and their commitment to the “preservation of Bob Moog’s archives and musical inventions which will converge in a future interactive museum…online and in Asheville, NC.” While Cornell University has an impressive digital archive only a small percentage of their material has been fully digitized. Given the massive size of their catalog and competing priorities, will Cornell be able to show the same commitment as The Moog Foundation? Unlike Cornell, The Bob Moog Foundation isn’t struggling to find the budget to preserve 4000 year old cuneiform tablets; the foundation has only one priority: the preservation of Moog’s life and work.

    While the gift to Cornell is appropriate – Moog received his Ph.D. from Cornell – and Grams-Moog has a recognized legal right to the archive, Moog-Koussa says the foundation is now “considering [their] options.” Hopefully, this family squabble will be settled by compromise and not by litigation.

  11. Moog is devaluing fast in terms of it’s legacy. It’s synth prices are hilarious and it did itself no favours putting out a gold plated synthesizer , just as things are really getting bad across the world .
    I tend to switch off now at the mention of Moog.
    To me they are no longer interesting , just expensive and irrelevant in this present market.

      1. I am very aware of history and musicology. There are other very important technical innovators out there, such as Martin Hannet , Patrick Cowley, etc Many innovators such as producers like Norman Whitefield. We keep getting told how important Moog is etc It doesn’t wash with some of us .
        Not when we see the prices etc . Roland wiped the floor with Moog, so did and does , Dave Smith instruments,and many ,many others.
        Is the moog polysynth out soon at 25,000 dollars?
        Detroit , Sheffield, Manchester, Berlin. Gold plated synths are a joke.

        1. Thomas Edison- why even have a museum about him? He hasn’t invented anything new in years, and modern light bulbs are much better than the ones he designed.

          Tell me again how you know all about historical archives….

  12. I don’t see what the Foundation has been doing with this archive that they need to keep it. They do a ton of stuff without it, and can continue doing so…

    Cornell will be an excellent place as they have trained archivists and budget to get things done. AND it is in upstate NY where Bob Moog went to school and created his instruments.

  13. From a local Asheville paper:

    Grams-Moog, in a statement released to the Citizen-Times, said she was “happy to serve as the first chair of the Bob Moog Foundation board for three years at Michelle’s request and was delighted when they won the grant from the (Tourism Development Authority) in 2009 for a Moogseum. However, after four years there has been no capital campaign in support of the TDA Grant.

    “In addition, the foundation is very small, and its resources are limited. They have no experience preserving and providing broad access to material of this caliber,” she said.

    Seems like the Bob Moog Foundation isn’t equipped to handle the job. It’s been 8 years since Moog died and his archives are still sitting in some room in Asheville, NC (population 70,000). Personally, I want to see Bob’s archives & thanks to Cornell I’ll finally be able to do that.

  14. Bob Moog is becoming the Lenin of synthesizers…the cult of personality those jokers in North Carolina are building around him would make Stalin blush. I’m surprised they didn’t mummify his body and put it on display in Asheville. Maybe Moog-Koussa should stop milking her dad’s corpse and get a real job.

        1. me too

          he is right, also how can this nonprofit organisation have 100grands to buy it from his widow.

          even if they got this money sponsored, its cristal clear that all they want to do is generating money, i mean look at their homepage ^^

    1. Well said, and the air brushing out of other synth pioneers, ‘Stalinesque revisionism’ as they make gold plated synths in times of recession.

      Bob Moog , body popping in his grave.

  15. Putting it mildly, Ms. Grams-Moog’s statements to the press are completely without basis in fact. No capital campaign? What about the hundreds of thousands of dollars contributed to preserving Bob’s legacy over the past seven years? Limited resources? With literally thousands of contributors and a full-time staff, the BMF is much more likely to honor Bob Moog than Cornell University, for which this will be just another collection.

    If not for the BMF’s good-faith efforts and tender loving care, the archives might very likely still be rotting in a shed, as the portion of it not in their possession is currently rotting in a basement. Instead, Michelle Moog-Koussa and her dedicated staff have spent their time, money, and effort bringing the archives up to museum-level restoration. And now Bob’s widow wants to seize those assets and give them away? Someone needs to ask, what’s her motivation?

    Plans were in place for the archives to be publicly displayed in a dedicated museum in Asheville with carefully cataloged resources for researchers, journalists, and scholars. Most of that work is complete. The only reason the Bob Moog Foundation has been unable to move forward with the Moogseum is that they need to own to archives in order to qualify for the grants that would make it possible. After years of promising to sign them over to the BMF, Ms. Grams-Moog has reneged on her verbal agreement.

    This action is a slap in the face to Bob, his children, and the city of Asheville. Asheville is not the backwater some of those posting here apparently assume it to be. It’s a modern, thriving community with tremendous support for music and the arts, and thanks to Bob Moog and many others, electronic music in particular. There’s much more to this story than is being made public.

    1. Very, very well put. Not everything needs to be in a University or NYC to be relevant. I myself never attended college but was able to teach myself quite a bit about circuits, computers, programming and such because of opportunities like the Moog Foundation provide. It’s a shame people seem to have some sort of odd idea what Asheville, NC is like, it’s absolutely one of my very places to visit.

    2. a slap in his face would be giving it some private foundation instead of an university, no matter how many where donating money over the years.

  16. I admit, whenever I see young children smiling while playing a voyager(I can only imagine how quickly you can tear those smiles away by explaining how many paper routes they would have to take on to purchase one). Dunno why, always my first gut reaction whenever I see Moog Foundation pics.
    No shops in my area will even ALLOW customers to touch one. Maybe I’m jealous, maybe I feel their synth prices are based on nostalgia.
    Go ahead, explain to a child why their prices are generally more than other competitive analog synths.
    You: Handmade in the USA!
    Child: umm ok
    You: Ladder Filter!
    Child: huh?
    I love Moog’s History, but I fear I will never own one…well, because I’m a musician

    1. So your point is a child can’t appreciate a quality product made in the USA ? I mean, I’m an adult and I do appreciate a product that is made/assembled by hand by people paid a fair wage from any part of the world. Also, I’m not familiar with any 3 oscillator mono synths for much less than a Voyager of the same build or sound quality. You could certainly build a very capable modular in that range but that’s a different beast. I love the Dave Smith but it’s very different in sound and build quality so I really don’t know what you’re comparing the Voyager to and the price for a SubPhatty is more than fair.

      1. My point is, most children care about the end result. I would be very proud to know a child who would return his toy he received for X-MAS because it wasn’t handmade in the USA. Children can make beautiful drawings with crayons, never stopping to wonder where/how the crayon was made. I’m very happy as an ADULT you can appreciate a monosynth with 3 osc. because it means that much more to you. That is how they make their money. I never compared a Sub Phatty to a Voyager, mind you.

  17. One often needs only to understand who profits from an arrangement to understand it.
    Instead of the two Moog’s in Asheville — Moog Music, a musical equipment business and The Bob Moog Foundation, a foundation to preserve the inventor’s legacy — there will be just one left intact.
    Having a university control archives “for scholars’ is quite different than encouraging grade-school kids to explore and twirl knobs and learn the science behind sound making, like the current Foundation does.
    Asheville is the other loser if the archives are moved and the Foundation is lessened in any way.
    I’d vote for a different outcome.

  18. To yank all materials from the daughter of the inventor, is lousy BECAUSE: she has worked for nearly a decade to develop a 3 pronged, NON-PROFIT mission of 1) immediately preserving all possible materials 2) teaching audio science in grade-schools and 3) aiming towards a museum to benefit all, not just an ivory-tower, “for scholars only” reading room. The proposed Moogseum would be a great boon/ beacon for Asheville, already a musically-active environment.

  19. Not everything needs to be in a University or NYC to be relevant. I myself never attended college but was able to teach myself quite a bit about circuits, computers, programming and such because of opportunities like the Moog Foundation provide. It’s a shame people seem to have some sort of odd idea what Asheville, NC is like, it’s absolutely one of my very places to visit.

  20. It’s ironic how the negative comment on here are mostly done by people hiding behind sudanims. The BMF was doing a perfectly good job taking care of the archives. By building on the archive over the last seven years it has become far more than it ever was. Mrs Koussa’s step mom didn’t come up with this idea on her own.

      1. Hey look, the inventor of spell correction decided to join us and show off his beta project “Definition Corrector”.

  21. If the BMF have the archives safely stored, I say give the high rez digital copies to the university and keep the originals in Asheville. I wonder why this has all of the sudden come up years after his passing. Did he specify in his will these items were to go to Cornell? If so, I wonder why it took so long.

  22. In my experience working on similar projects, the ability to preserve the collection is a minimum requirement but only one aspect of preserving a legacy. The stewards of the collection and what their goals are with the collection is of prime importance along with passion and knowledge.

    Another aspect beyond scholarship is community outreach. The Bob Moog Foundation has been working on the education front for some time. They also do outreach for local electronic music events. For example, I played the Electro-Music Festival in Asheville in 2012 (then known as Mountain-Skies). Michelle brought in an audio recording of Bob from the archives. An important part of this presentation was her notes on the recording giving the recording context. It was both an inspiring moment at the event.

    I’ve supported the Bob Moog Foundation in the past and will continue to do so whether they have the collection or not. I hope the collection ends up with them.

  23. This is just simply ridiculous. I have personally donated some money to help the Bob Moog Foundation. Some of you have absolutely no knowledge of how hard the they have worked to preserve these important documents. They need to stay with them. Cornell is a good university and I don’t fault them. However, the Bob Moog Foundation does one thing specifically, and they do it very well. It is a disgrace to rip this archive from them. Hopefully something can be worked out.

  24. Oh good – more important information locked behind the prohibitively expensive and exclusive gates of academia.

  25. The message is clear: small town people do not have the open elitism mind to appreciate the work of a genius who chose to be among them, small towners, and not among Academia.
    Who remember the last images of Indiana jones’ Lost Ark? Area 51 with 100000 of boxes. I am afraid this will be the fate of the Moog’s archive at Cornell’s, somewhere in a basement….

  26. I’m more interested in samplers …. analog synths don’t do it for for me .. so I could care less where the moog stuff ends up at. …. Also I cant tell who’s who, is there a step mother in this story?

      1. I comment because I am over the Bob Moog worshiping Mob. I figure there are others like me and would like to hear their thoughts. If I wanted an Analog it would be to retrieve my old Juno106 not a moog. Samplers and Granular stuff are way more interesting. The analog hype is getting old and I for one don’t need another item that makes a buzzing sound.

        I’m no coolkid hipster .. I don’t work on Mac’s really don’t like ipads and couldn’t give a crap about Analog synths. I like 80’s and 90’s samplers Atari St’s Amiga’s C64’s old analog mixers workstations sample playback systems windows PC’s etc.

        1. Yes, you are certainly not a cool hipster. But you certainly are bitter. How is good sounding gear hip? You think old samplers and C64s aren’t hip but they totally are.

          Oh wait, using the word hipster as an insult is soo 2005. So you definitely aren’t very hip. Congrats.

  27. I agree that the entire situation seems weird. Why allow the foundation to do all the work that they have done just to move it all somewhere else?

    I have supported them in the past and think that they do a lot of good work. My only question though is that after 7 years of collecting and restoring the archives, why is a flicker gallery the only thing I can see of it online? They said that the videos have been digitized and the goal is to share them. Although I have supported the foundation with funding online, Asheville is a far drive. Even if I do visit it once, I won’t have the time to properly study and read through the materials.

    I went on the Cornell website and they do have a lot of content available online for anyone to view. The only upside of this whole situation will be if Cornell is able to better share all the materials with the rest of the world.

    Hopefully some sort of compromise can be met. Right now, it just looks like a messed up family feud and the public might end up being the ones who suffer. Did someone forget to send her stepmother a birthday card this year?

    1. To further answer your question, only a portion of the archive material that has been “donated” to Cornell, (more on my use of quotes at the appropriate time), has been in possession of the Foundation. Illeana Grams-Moog allowed use of only some of the items at special events such as MoogFest displays and fund raising events. So some of the materials, as well as other items of our other exhibit pieces have been publicly displayed over the years in the appropriate situations.

      The lending of these materials was via a verbal contract with a stated, (and DOCUMENTED), intention to turn the inventory over to the Foundation, but without full legal ownership, we have been prohibited from doing anything significant with it. And as Geary Yelton mentions above, we needed to possess the entire collection in order to qualify for grant subsidies to lease or, (preferably), build a museum space to permanently house it.

      Thank you for your understanding!

      1. i bet the management still cant decide if the monthly fee or the pay per page model is better for putting them online hehe

        i thhink its great that a university gets it

  28. I am intimately aware of much of what is in these materials, having assisted The Bob Moog Foundation in reviewing and cataloging shortly after its formation. Speaking as an engineer who knows a good deal about this technology and has worked at Moog Music in both New York and Asheville, a lot of the documentation we reviewed is VERY arcane, and I doubt that the Cornell Library, (an institution that, by-the-way, really couldn’t give a toss about Bob during his career), will know what half of it is, or what the hell to do with most of it.

    This body of material does indeed require a significant amount of interpretation, in the same manner as an archaeologist needs to survey an entire dig site to place all of the fragments in context. There are drawings and schematics that will make no sense when taken out of the context of their relationship with some of the other materials that are NOT in this portion of the archive. These materials need to be interpreted in their entirety.

    Bob Moog was prolific, but he did NOT work alone: this is not all just simply “Bob’s stuff”! There is a scope of involvement of a lot of other people (like myself) that needs to be taken into consideration to truly understand the historical context of these materials. And unless you were collecting a Moog or a Norlin paycheck at the time, very few people can look at a bunch of initials in a drawing’s title block and get a proper understanding of who was involved and the what’s and why’s of how that document came to be.

    Not all of these materials relate to anything tangible that ever saw the light of day, but are important when placed in an R&D context, and unless you were part of that effort it would be very easy to dismiss as historically insignificant. These materials are now historical information, and if you’re going to assemble that history accurately, you need to KNOW these details from the people that helped create them. As scholarly as any library personnel may be, they are going to need to contract people that are true experts to be able to sort through this pile of stuff to develop a historically accurate picture.

    The Bob Moog Foundation has taken the care to through the years nurtured relationships with the actual individuals who were THERE when this stuff was created. I cannot speak for all of my colleagues from “back in the day”, but speaking for myself, I refuse to contribute any of my information to support this material being in the hands of entities that have demonstrated such poor integrity.

    There are still more felines to be released from their fabric confine, but when the dust settles it will be clear that The Bob Moog Foundation is the only organisation that has operated with integrity in this matter.

    1. come on ^^ i think a lot of guys coming to this forum have a degree in electronics themself and know a LOT about schematics.

      this is no magic, and i cant see why an engineer specialized in musical electronics and moog synths cant read moogs schematics, even if its just a fraction of a complete draw one can see what is or could be the intention.

      you worked for the moog company, thats great, but you worked FOR the moog company, and the owner of the company wanted it to be available to the public for studying them.

      he said nothing about his daughter founding a foundation to make money of it and sell t-shirts with his face on it.

      its going to be in a university, so be glad that its what your boss wanted.

    2. Wait… is this the same August Worley responsible for the “Paradym” crystal-healing chakra-aligning tone generator with “Crystal Particle Fountain”(tm)? I’m super glad this guy has decided to stay far FAR away from the archives. No self respecting engineer should have anything to do with a guy who claims his magic music crystal box can cure Alzheimers.

  29. Thanks for the feedback, August. That sheds a lot of light on the matter as to why the foundation is so adamant on the fact that they are the only ones who could do the documents their full justice and at least partly explains why none of it is yet available online for people around the world to access. Lets keep our fingers crossed in hopes that some compromise can be reached.

  30. One of the things about Bob Moog’s engineering work (and what, I believe, ultimately captured the imagination of so many people across so many different interest groups) was that it was done to produce means of musical expression. The context and influence of his work should not be limited to its place in engineering or keyboard instrument history, as it ultimately is about so much more.

    It was only through the efforts of the Bob Moog Foundation (including volunteers, partners, and supporters) that the archives were salvaged and preserved, and we had only seen the beginning of what the BMF could eventually accomplish with the archives. I sincerely hope that Bob Moog’s archives can be returned to the Bob Moog Foundation where they truly belong.

  31. It depends if you think it should be with a non-profit or a for profit organization.

    I’ll go with non-profit since colleges have taken enough money away from honest people and have put such a huge percentage of the population in debt.

    College should be free. So should knowledge.

  32. lets have a vote on it

    a) Cornell University
    b) The Bob Moog Foundation
    c) burn the lot of it
    d) put it all in a sealed container in the same warehouse as Steven Spielberg put the Arc at the the end of raiders of the lost arc and forget about it until all his relatives are dead and some rational dialogue can take place as to its final destination.

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