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n. An early mechanical accordion that played music encoded on rolls of perforated paper.


The Organette was a mechanical free-reed instrument first manufactured in the late 1870s by several companies such John McTammany of Cambridge MA, the Autophone Company of Ithaca NY, the Automatic Organ Co of Boston MA, E.P. Needham & Sons of New York NY, J.M. Draper of London England, Paul Ehrlich & Co. of Leipzig Germany, and The Mechanical Orguinette Co. of New York NY as well as other manufacturers worldwide.

The organette (or orguinette) used rolls of perforated paper, perforated cardboard, perforated metal disks and wooden rollers (or "cobs") on which the music was recorded. Musical scales ranged from 14 to 39 notes depending on the instrument's complexity. Air pressure or vacuum was produced by hand-, crank- or foot-operated mechanical bellows. The organette was compact and affordable with large selections of music available. Various patents credit Henry Bishop Horton (1819-1885; co-founder of the Ithaca Calendar Clock Co), John McTammany (1845-1915), Paul Ehrlich and others with inventing the organette. The organette's popularity declined as the phonograph was introduced and became more affordable.

The most remarkable feature of this invention is the regularity and perfection with which the music is rendered. All of the parts are played and the music is of no mean order. Scientific American (19 November 1879)