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MMD > Archives > December 2009 > 2009.12.11 > 03Prev  Next

Earliest Recording Piano
By Bob Billings

In a talk at the Franklin institute in 1908, John F. Kelly (the founder
of the Tel-Electric Company) refers to an electric player piano made as
early as 1850.  By 1864 several patents had been granted in France and
Germany for the electric player piano.

Apparently one of the early methods of recording piano playing was
a disc connected to each key that pressed on a moving sheet of paper,
making indentations for each key pressed.  The resulting projections on
the reverse side of the paper were then cut off, making holes in the

To play back the recording metal fingers contacted the moving sheet of
paper, and as each hole passed over a metal bar a circuit was closed
that drove solenoids that operated the piano notes.  Reference is made
at one point of resulting fire from the arcing of the contacts on the
paper (shades of the Mills Violano!)

Bob Billings
Reno, Nevada

(Message sent Fri 11 Dec 2009, 05:15:14 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Earliest, Piano, Recording

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