The secret ingredient in Switched on Bach is that it is an outrageously good musical performance.
Lots of other synth albums are technology demos, collections of cool sounds. Switched On Bach stands out because Carlos adapted Bach for the medium of the Moog synth, clearly understanding the compositions' underlying gestures, and ensured that those gestures all come through. In some cases, they come through more clearly than on the original instrumentation, especially bass lines where the synth speaks more clearly than acoustic instruments can.
Such details in another performer's hands could be distracting, messing up the relationship between foreground and background elements and drawing attention to the wrong things -- but Carlos's arrangement and performance are exquisitely balanced. This could only have been achieved by someone with a deep and sophisticated understanding of the source material, combined with incredible patience to wrestle with difficult and immature technology until the recordings were perfected.
The Tron score did a wonderful job blending early synth sounds with an orchestral backdrop.
It also has a odd and memorable theme that moves around using augmented triads yet isn't octatonic nor based on a whole-tone scale.
There's also a nice moment at the beginning of the credits-- where the theme previously wandered through harmonies quite rapidly, here it gets anchored to a single key with a fairly lush orchestral accompaniment. Then that leads in to a massive pipe organ solo doing the chromatic version of the theme for a final time, then to more fitting electro-orchestral credits music that cycles chromatically through augmented triads. (I think there's a reference to this music in the NES metroid game somewhere, I think it's Ridley's lair)
Anyhow-- the strange orchestral changes and lyrical melodies are the kind of thing that make you stick around for the credits. It's all very simple in a way, but extremely effective, too.
Contrasting that-- I almost laughed in the new Star Wars movie when at the climax the brass just loudly ascends up root position minor triad. It's like being served a steak with a side of a stick of butter.
Edit: I guess I should have written "spoiler" about the loud arpeggiation of a minor triad in the Star Wars movie.
SOB is great and all, but Beauty in the Beast is absolutely phenomenal. She really pushed the boundaries there, creating a musical universe all of her own.
No mention in the article of Switched on Bach 2000. This is the album that was a distillation all of her knowledge and skill. Entirely digital (DKS Synergy and Yamaha FM), except for a single Moog note! (She leaves it as a challenge to listeners to locate it...)
The tracks are almost unreal: as different from 'modern' subtractive 'fat' analog-style synths as can be. She champions complex timbres and original tunings, and it makes a tremendous difference to the music. I compared a classical organ recording of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to her version, and what a difference! Her tuning makes the music so much richer, and she surrounds the listener with a dizzying web of sound - the surround sound is incredible!
Her articles in Keyboard magazine, about the making of SoB2000, were a huge influence on how I came to perceive music.
BTW, Wendy Carlos is also a brilliant eclipse photographer: http://www.wendycarlos.com/eclipse.html
Oh man, listening to Switched on Bach now. First music I loved as a kid; it still evokes an emotional response. Life has been hard recently, living through a serious illness with lots of pain, feels good to kick back and listen to this.
BTW, archive.org has the best quality recordings I've found of Switched on Bach. It's not got a very full sound, but there are less pops and crackles than other sources online such as soundcloud. I wish Wendy Carlos would reissue this as a re-mastered CD
This article mentions Carlos's collaborations with Kubrick. She actually composed a full score for The Shining, but the director ended up using only parts of it.  Instead, he used existing pieces by other contemporary classical (acoustic) composers. Carlos's influence on music was huge, as this article points out, but Kubrick's eventual choice of music for The Shining has also gone on to influence horror movie scores since then. To this day, many emulate the sounds of Bartok, Ligeti, and Penderecki.
Also a pioneer for the trans community. What a fantastic person.
I was lucky enough to get _Beauty in the Beast_ when it came out on Larry Fast's short-lived Audion label. It is well worth your time (and ever since I've wished that Wendy Carlos and Terry Riley would collaborate on a piece or an album).
I'm particularly fond of "Secrets of Synthesis". It gives you some idea of the difficulties she had to overcome to create this amazing music using such early versions of the hardware.
Does anyone have an idea why her albums aren't currently available?
"The Well-Tempered Synthesizer" is still one of my favorite albums, although it is a bit obscure. I had to wait for many years before it finally came out on CD.
Tomita's "Snowflakes Are Dancing" is the other classic synth album as far as I'm concerned :-)
I still enjoy listening to my Clockwork Orange soundtrack that I got for my 16th birthday. I used to listen to it all the time when doing math homework. Good music for concentration.
My fave track being 'Theme from A Clockwork Orange (Beethoviana)'.
No mention of the Tron soundtrack ... I guess it didn't "change music" but I really liked her compositions.
So, let’s say we offset the gender imbalance in various affected workplaces, by converting 50% of males directly into females through gender dysphoria. Does that solve the problem?