Electronic Organ - History - Early Electric Organs (1897-1930s)

Early Electric Organs (1897-1930s)

Electricity arrived on the organ scene in the first decades of the 20th century, but it was slow to have a major impact. Electrically powered reed organs appeared during the first decades of electricity, but their tonal qualities remained much the same as the older, foot-pumped models.

Thaddeus Cahill's gargantuan and controversial instrument, the Telharmonium, which began piping music to New York City establishments over the telephone system in 1897, predated the advent of electronics, yet was the first instrument to demonstrate the use of the combination of many different pure electrical waveforms to synthesize real-world instrument sounds. Cahill's techniques were later used by Laurens Hammond in his organ design, and the 200-ton instrument served as the world's first demonstration of electrically-produced music on a grand scale.

Meanwhile, some further experimentation with producing sound by electric impulses was taking place, especially in France.

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