Mar 31, 2014

Hammond Model S Chord Organs: The Non-Musician’s Instrument of Choice

Americans value their leisure time. I know I do; it’s nice to have some time to spend however I see fit. My ancestors (yours, too, I suspect) worked all day and had little time for hobbies and amusements. Now, middle-class families have a wide range of leisure activities that they can engage in.

As the middle class grew in the late 19th and 20th centuries, entertainment technology grew as well. We all love to be entertained, and over the years manufacturers have fed our desire for amusement. From machine-age diversions like mechanical arcade games and player pianos to digital-age gaming consoles and smartphones, our leisure hours have been filled with technology for more than 100 years.

Some technologies (player pianos, for example) took a while to reach their market saturation point. Other technologies—like radio—gained a foothold quickly. Every technology needs an infrastructure to support it, whether retail distribution, phone lines or radio transmitters. Whenever a new entertainment technology was introduced into an existing infrastructure, the possibility of a sales explosion existed. Such was the case with America’s first electric chord organ, the Hammond Model S.

Introduced in 1950, the Model S was designed to have non-musicians “playing lovely organ music within 30 minutes.” The Model S chord organ was laid out in easy-to-navigate divisions: keyboard on the right, chords on the left, and two pedals underneath. Read More...

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