Digital piano history

Digital piano is a new concept that has evolved with the consumer electronic technology of the 21st century. How this modern technology evolved from a traditional piano and organ manufacturer is an interesting story.

Hampton L. Story built his first piano in 1887 after a career as a salesman. In 1859, Story opened his first music store in Burlington, Vermont and later partnered with several other piano companies from the years 1859 to 1883.

“The Story & Clark” company emerged when Hampton Story partnered with his son, Edward H. Story and Melville Clark. The company was successful in manufacturing reed organs. 

In 1895, the firm manufactured pianos under the business name, “The Story & Clark Piano Company.” The company was known for producing quality craftmanship in combination with technological advances at affordable prices.

In 1900 Melvin Clark left the company to build player pianos under his own name. However, the company retained the name “Story & Clark” in spite of Clark leaving to form his own company.

 The “Story & Clark” brand has retained its identity after The Great Depression and World War II. In 1962, the Lowery Organ Company purchased Story & Clark. The manufacture of pianos continued under both the “Story & Clark” and “Lowery” brand names. The Story & Clark name was purchased by The Classic Player Piano Company in 1991. 

Emergence of the digital piano

In 1993 the Story & Clark brand was purchased by QRS Piano Rolls, Inc. QRS was founded in 1900 by Melville Clark. QRS Piano Rolls or QRS Music Inc. manufactures pianos under the Story & Clark brand. 

Player Piano at the Carousel Factory.Musical instruments like this one predated today's consumer electronics player pianos.

QRS has historically been the United States of America’s major source of music rolls for traditional player pianos. Anyone interested in purchasing a digital piano can contact QRS Music Technologies, Inc. The company now manufactures an electronic player-piano system called PNOmation that can be added to any piano. 

Following Clark’s technological advances, QRS Music Technologies, Inc. manufactures player units. These units can be expanded as an electronic keyboard. A MIDI strip that fits underneath the keyboard can accompany each unit order. The strip is installed with MIDI and USB out ports inserted into each piano depending upon the model specifications.

Story & Clark pianos come in two different series built according to specifications by various Asian manufacturers. Each manufactured Story & Clark piano also comes with one year of PianoMarvel interactive piano lessons. The Heritage series is a popularly priced line of verticals and grands. Each piano comes with a Storytone II soundboard. 

The Signature Series piano models are also verticals and grands. These piano styles feature premium Renner hammers, maple and mahogany rims, Roslau strings, solid brass hardware and Bolduc tapered soundboards. Signature piano cabinet designs are detailed and coordinate with all home furnishing trends. According to the company, these beautiful pianos are good musical additions for schools and commercial establishments.

Digital piano music

Hampton Story and Melville Clark established the tradition of integrating the latest technology into all manufactured pianos. All Story & Clark pianos include the latest connected system from QRS Music Technologies, Inc.

PNOmation3 is QRS Music Technologies most advanced player piano system sold today. It comes with WiFi and Bluetooth integration and optional Amazon Echo Dot control that uses your voice to control the piano player system. 

PNOmation3 comes with thousands of complimentary selections of music from the company. Musical selections include piano solos, piano with accompanying instruments from a band or orchestra and vocals from the original artists. QRS sells other musical selections including many of today’s most popular tunes. You can use a control app to select the desired song or album. You can instantly download the musical choice after purchase avoiding phone calls, eliminating the wait for shipping or shipping fees.

The SilentPNO feature allows you to practice without disturbing everyone around you. PNOScan Record makes it easy to record and play back your own performances. PNOmation3 can be installed on almost all existing pianos, old or new, grand or upright. Most pianos other than spinets are able compatible with the new system. For more information, please visit the QRS Music Technologies, Inc. website.

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