The sounds produced by the Paradiso Synthesizer are “programmed” manually by running wires between various outputs and inputs. The synthesizer’s modules produce complex and varied sonic environments from the complicated “patch”—the set of connections—that MIT Media Lab Professor Joe Paradiso improvised. The patch determines both the sounds and how the sounds are controlled and triggered, ensuring that the sonic environment generated by the synthesizer will never be repeated.
Unlike today's digital synthesizers, which normally hide their many capabilities behind menus or graphical interface screens that allow for changing only one parameter at a time, the modular synthesizer exposes all aspects of sound creation and modification simultaneously via the physical modules.
“Perhaps the world's largest homemade modular electronic music synthesizer,” the Paradiso Synthesizer was built mostly between 1975 and 1985.