An short-lived but influential performance and recording group in the early history of electronic music. It was founded by Morton Subnotnick and Ramon Sender in 1962, and included among its early members Terry Riley and Pauline Oliveros. Donald Buchla also became an early member, and he brought samples of his early circuit experiments to the Center for other performers to try out. Hence, the center became the beta site for the development of the Buchla 100 and 200 series modulars. The music produced was highly experimental, and often presented in combination with multimedia presentations. The Center was essentially the birthplace of the West Coast school.
In the mid-'60s, Subotnick was working to find additional funding for the Center. Eventually a grant was obtained from Mills College's Contemporary Music Center, but the grant required the Center to relocate to Mills and come under Mills' organization. This caused various problems, and Subotnick soon departed for a position with a multimedia center in New York. Over the next two years, the founders and early members all departed, and by 1969 none of the most influential members, or their equipment, remained.
In 1999, groups from a Palo Alto performance group called the Acme Observatory joined with a ballroom-music group from Stanford University to form the San Francisco Tape Music Collective. This captures some of the ethos of the early Center, but concentrates mostly on presenting live performances.