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Early Synthesizers, Keyboard and Performance Instruments

The Touch Sensitive Organ

Hugh Le Caine designed a touch sensitive organ in his home studio beginning in 1945. In 1954 he brought it to the National Research Council (NRC) where it was improved significantly. Each of the organ's ninety-nine keys could be played simultaneously, and a separate pressure-sensitive volume control mechanism was mounted under each key, allowing for detailed volume control. In 1955 the Baldwin Organ Company took an option on the patent, which they maintained for many years, but they never manufactured the instrument. Pressure sensitive keyboards were not available commercially until three decades later, when they were widely recognized as a significant contribution in instrument design. Although it was intended to be a standard organ, Le Caine also used the instrument as if it were a polyphonic synthesizer in his 1956 composition Ninety-Nine Generators.

The Touch Sensitive Organ (940105) (National Library)