The first players were invented in the early 1890’s. They were contraptions with 65 fingers which were rolled up to a piano. Fingers were adjusted to align to the piano’s keys, and pumped with foot pedals to create vacuum. When a hole in a paper roll was encountered it tripped a pneumatic valve that actuated the finger which then struck the
piano key. These devices weighed about as much as a piano and were cumbersome to maneuver and adjust, consequently they were incorporated into the piano’s manufacture. The result was a piano that rivaled the weight of a compact car. Around 1910 electric motors replaced foot pumps opening up a new market - the Nickelodeon.
Now there’s a new “Kid on the block” - the electronic player. These players use micro processors and are capable of one hundred and twenty-seven levels of expressions. Some models can even record what is played on the keyboard. This time it’s a battle among “Diskclavier”, “Pianodisc”, “Concertmaster”, and “Pianomation”, and so the “Cola Wars” continue. Just like the former players, they will be cheaper to replace than to repair, but unlike the paper players, The cabinets are made of flimsy fiberboard with no evidence of craftsmanship, a compact disc has no nostalgic appeal, and it's doubtful they will ever become "Collector's Items" or even hold together through the test of time.
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