(1930?-) Brilliant electrical engineer and founder of ARP Instruments. Pearlman graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1948, the same year that he wrote a term paper speculating on possible designs for future music synthesizers. However, he did not go into the music business right away; after graduation he joined the electronics firm of George A. Philbrick Researches, which was doing pioneer work on pre-integrated-circuit operational amplifiers. In 1962, Pearlman and a few co-workers broke away from Philbrick and founded Nexus Research Labs. At Nexus, Pearlman did research on analog computing circuits using op amps. He designed some circuits used in NASA's Gemini and Apollo space capsules, and among his patents from that period was one for a circuit that is still used in analog synthesizer VCOs today.
The Nexus founders sold the company to Teledyne in 1967, and the proceeds of the sale made them wealthy. With time and money on his hands, Pearlman returned to his college-years interest in electronic music and began building synthesizer circuits. After two years, he had the basics of a modular synthesizer that could compete with Moog Music's offerings. He founded a new company, putting $100,000 of his own money into it and naming the company using his initials — Alan R. Pearlman. (He was nicknamed "Arp" when working at Philbrick; apparently nicknaming people based on their initials was a company fad, since the company's founder, George A. Philbrick, was known as "Gap".) ARP's first product, the Pearlman-designed 2500 modular synth, filled a hole in the marketplace at a time when Moog was having trouble keeping up with its orders, and ARP was an instant success.
Other successes followed in quick succession, including the Odyssey performance synth, the Omni string synth, and the 2600 semi-modular. But the company suffered from management problems; Pearlman did not want the responsibility of making day-to-day business decisions and a leadership struggle ensued. Also, Pearlman, by his own admission, did not relate well to the pop and rock musicians who were the company's main customers. (It is not true, however, that Pearlman did not listen to or play music; he was a classically trained pianist.) After the company went public in 1973 and established a board of directors, Pearlman found himself gradually being pushed out of a management role. Over his objections, ARP pursued the disastrous Avatar project that led to the company's financial collapse. When the company fell into bankruptcy in 1981, Pearlman was dismissed along with the rest of the management.
After ARP, Pearlman went into semi-retirement. He founded a software company called Selva Systems, but little info is available on the Internet about its activities. He emerged from retirement in 2003 to consult with soft synth maker Way Out Ware on the TimeWARP 2600, a soft synth which emulates the ARP 2600, and he has since consulted on other software emulations of ARP synths. As of December 2010 he is alive and well and living in Massachusetts.