Posts tagged antiques
More about the Tonophone

Coin-operated, pneumatic, and capable of a ten-song playlist, the Tonophone was released by Wurlitzer in 1897. At the heart of the Tonophone was a cylinder that ran the width of the piano. This cylinder was covered in raised metal pins that sort of resemble staples of varying lengths. 

As the song played, the cylinder continuously rotated, and as it did, the pins would lift levers: one lever for each note. In turn, the levers opened valves that pneumatically operated the keys. 

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Things You Didn't Know About Wurlitzer #1: The first Wurlitzer electric piano dates to 1899.

This would be the Wurlitzer Tonophone, an early example of a player piano. Powered pneumatically, it featured a system of levers, one corresponding to each key, that "read" a rotating wooden cylinder covered in raised pins. 

Wurlitzer sold the Tonophone to restaurants. It was coin-operated, and for five cents patrons could pick one of ten songs. Because songs were so short, they would play through twice. 

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