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Charles Cros Patent
Who Invented the Electric Player Piano?
Patent by Antoine and Charles Cros
by Francoise Dussour (070703 MMDigest)

CharlesCrosPatent.jpg (790 kb)
[full size]

Hello MMD!  Even if I don't write often I have always pleasure and great interest to read MMD news!

About electric player pianos: I have found in France the patent by Antoine and Charles Cros (No. 62 974, date: 10 May 1864) about a system to record and reproduce music from keyboard instruments.  I send you a picture of a part of Cros's patent and you can see the electric wires.

It is interesting to note that the XIX century was a fantastic time for inventions for reproducing music.  Between 1844 and 1887 more than 17 persons patented their inventions concerning the piano.  But we can also separate the method and the system to record, or to transcribe, the music:

  Mechanical system: the first one was the Pianographe [or Pianograph] (27 Feb. 1747) described by a Reverend Creed.

  Electric system: in France, the first by Charles Cros (10 May 1864)

I am always very enthusiastic about bird-organs and particularly with the serinettes of Mirecourt, but the research becomes often with difficulties!

Best regards from France,
Françoise Dussour
03 Jul 2007 12:46:41 +0200

Found at :

Cros was a tireless inventor.  In 1864, he described "a system of musical stenography capable of producing an exact graphic representation of music played on keyboard instruments."  The following year he designed a "typographical" machine and took out a patent for an "Autographic telegraph with a coupled action and a single wire." ...

Cros was an artist as well as an inventor and not very well at home with set-square, compass and ruler.  When describing his inventions he preferred to use coloured inks, to scrawl notes and arrows, and to run over the margin.  As a result, what should normally have been a straightforward diagram became a painting in its own right. ...


J Royal Music Assn, 1881; 8: 189 - 196.
*......of mechanism of this character. A clergyman of the name of Creed appears to have been one of the first to think of constructing...imperfectly done. The inventor, who styles his instrument the " Pianograph Metronome," says that in all previous apparatuses " the infinite......

3 July 2007

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