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MMD > Archives > September 2014 > 2014.09.26 > 01Prev  Next

Open-Source Hardware Circa 1920 by Julie Porter
By Robbie Rhodes

[ Ref: 140924 MMDigest, Open-Source Hardware Circa 1920 and

A selection of comments follows Julie Porter's article in EE Times.
Reader "Etmax", at 9/17/2014 1:07:40 PM, wrote, "I'm not sure why
this is considered open source; providing a schematic does not mean
open source, only a declaration by the manufacturer waiving copyright.
...  So the question remains, why is this organ open source?"

Julie responded as "Sheepdoll", at 9/17/2014 2:04:38 PM, that the
headline on the article was provided by the EE Times editor (perhaps
to grab attention).  She wrote, "This organ was no more open [source]
than any radio of the time."

Julie's article is about the _maintainability_ of the pipe organ;
I can't imagine that Robert Morton Organ Company intended to waive any
claim of copyright or patent and declare their product "open source".
Rather, they published service information and included it within the
organ for the benefit of the user.

Another firm in the same era (late 1920s), who published technical
information instead of holding it secret, was American Piano Company,
first in the big article published in November, 1927, in Scientific
American magazine, and later in "The Ampico Service Manual 1929" for
the model "B" Ampico.

Robert Morton and American Piano provided explanations and schematic
diagrams to help with maintenance of their products.  Thus they were
among the first mechanical music instrument manufacturers in America
to recognize the intelligence and abilities of their customers and
independent repair technicians.  "Disposable" musical products made
for the mass market would appear later.

Robbie Rhodes
Etiwanda, Calif.

(Message sent Sat 27 Sep 2014, 06:32:14 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  1920, Circa, Hardware, Julie, Open-Source, Porter

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