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date: 15 November 2019


  • Hugh Davies


Photoelectric keyboard instrument resembling an electronic organ, developed by Arnold Lesti and Frederick M. Sammis at RCA in Hollywood about 1933. It had three five-octave keyboards and could produce a wide range of timbres. The sound was generated by means of revolving photoelectric tone-wheels, using an expansion of the basic principle of Lesti’s earlier ‘radio organ of a trillion tones’. (Sammis later constructed the singing keyboard, which worked on a rather different principle.) There was no connection between the Lesti and Sammis Polytone and a microtonal harmonium invented by Arthur Fickénscher and constructed at the University of Virginia about ...

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