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MMD > Archives > March 2001 > 2001.03.04 > 02Prev  Next

Demise of the Player Piano
By Art Reblitz

The primary factor in the player piano's demise was not the depression,
but rather a combination of the electronically-amplified radio and
interesting radio programming in 1926.  Small crystal radios had been
popular for years before this, but the introduction of the amplified
radio made it practical for broadcasting companies to spend money on
interesting programming because it could be enjoyed simultaneously by
more than one person per radio set.

Electronically-amplified phonographs also played a role, but rather
loud (if rather low-fi) acoustic phonographs were already very common
and had co-existed with the player piano for years.  In contrast, the
amplified radio presented the more radical change in entertainment

In the area of public entertainment, the amplified radio was also a
factor by 1926.  The J.P. Seeburg Piano Co., America's largest maker
of coin pianos and orchestrions in the 1920s, didn't market its first
amplified jukebox until two years later.  The firm changed its name to
the J.P. Seeburg Company in July, 1928, and stopped selling pianos by
the end of the year.

The great depression of 1929 seriously hurt jukebox sales, but coin
piano sales had already dwindled to an end.  Relatively few jukeboxes
were then sold until the mid-1930s.

Art Reblitz

(Message sent Sun 4 Mar 2001, 14:57:22 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Demise, Piano, Player

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