The inventor is rarely a man with an idea which has never occurred to anyone else. He's the one who makes the idea a practicality and then convinces the world of it. The inventor is certain to be a dedicated man and usually a brilliant one; the kind of man who, as a mechanical engineering student in college, might take an electrical engineering exam by mistake and pass it. Despite these characteristics, or maybe because of them, the inventor is rarely a businessman. History has not given many major inventors the rewards of the efforts. There are, of course, exceptions. David Sarnoff, Edwin Land and Henry Ford are the 20th Century examples. So is Laurens Hammond of Evanston, Illinois. Through stubborn perseverance and the. imaginative combination of proven principles, he created the first practical electronic musical instrument... the Hammond Organ... and then built an industry around it.
To properly evaluate Hammond's accomplishment, a look at the long and somewhat colorful history of the pipe organ is in order.
The Greeks tell us the forerunner of the organ first appeared on Mt. Olympus. The Great God Pan pursued the love of a nymph named Syrinx, but lost her when her sister nymphs turned her into a reed. The unlucky Pan is supposed to have made a pipe of that reed to sing his love.
The organ's debut was somewhat later on earth. The first known organ was invented by Ktesibios of Greek Alexandria. His hydraulus was a collection of pipes of varying lengths that produced sounds of different pitch and color when air was forced through them under pressure. The compressed air came from a bell immersed in water, trapping air beneath. Assistants with muscle and great endurance kept the bell supplied with air by pumping the bellows. Cumbersome as it was, the hydraulus was an amazing scientific feat. It was still played occasionally as late as the middle ages.
History reports that Nero was an accomplished organist rather than a fiddler and that Pepin the Short should be remembered as more than just the father of Charlemagne. He became the proud owner of the first organ in Europe in 757.
Apparently the organ sound caught on because, in 950, one was built in Winchester Cathedral in England. It had 400 pipes which were supplied with air by fifty men working on 26 huge bellows. It was played by two musicians who pounded levers with their fists. It would be 300 years before the keyboard or manual was invented and arrangements of levers and valves devised to replace the slides that controlled the flow of air.But if the 1'big sound" was first heard in Winchester Cathedral, initial regard for the organist's hands must be credited to the Germans. The first know organ to have the present arrangement of black and white keys was the one installed in the Cathedral at Halberstadt in 1381. It was truly a step forward because its builders also gave it a pedal keyboard. Curiously enough, it was an innovation that was not wisely copied for 400 years.
The dawn of modern science is usually set at about 1600. Men like Newton, Kepler and Galileo were carving niches in history while opening new frontiers.
Although it wasn't recognized at the time, an Englishman named Robert Hooke also made a breakthrough. In 1618 he found that musical tones could be created from nothing more than a little cog wheel and a pasteboard card. His toothed wheel, fastened to a revolving shaft, gave a distinctive pitch when a card was held against it. The faster the card turned, the greater the frequency of vibrations of the card and, consequently, the higher the pitch. Doubling the frequency of a note, he found, raised its pitch one octave.The scientific world was so impressed with Hooke's discovery that it was 150 years before a French physicist named Savart took the next step. He fastened numerous wheels with varying number of teeth to a revolving shaft and investigated fully the pitch of the various notes when a card was held against the sound generators.
In 1834, a Vermont blacksmith named Thomas Davenport heard that a man named Joseph Henry at the school now known as Princeton University had been able to make a wheel turn like a motor when the wheel was fed an electric current and held near a small electromagnet. The primitive motor was based on Oersted's discovery that the flow of every electric current creates a magnetic field around it and on Faraday's proof that every moving magnetic field produces an electric voltage. Davenport, pondering this, put four electromagnets around an iron wheel and made the first practical, patentable electric motor.
About 30 years later Herman von Helmholtz showed that any ordinary musical sound is really a mixture of a number of simpler ones. Every complex tone consists of a fundamental plus a series of, harmonic overtones. All that was needed to create musical tones electrically was available in 1863 but, except for an early 20th century device called the telharmonium, the basic facts lay forgotten until 1934 when the world's first commercially practical electric organ was patented by Laurens Hammond. And, if those who tried and failed followed the same thorny path Hammond did, it is not surprising.HAMMOND'S EARLY INVENTIONS
The organ was not Hammond's first invention nor, for that matter, his first success. His first attempt came at the age of 14. Living in Paris with his mother at the time, he tried to convince the chief engineer of the Renault Motor Car Company of the value of his plan for an automatic transmission. The year, however, was 1909, and the automobile industry was not yet ready for such & drastic innovation.
By 1920, Hammond had come and gone from Cornell University, one world war and two jobs. His restless mind became annoyed with the loud ticking of spring driven clocks so he invented a "tickless" clock enclosing the noisy motor in a soundproof box. It was marketed by the Ansonia Clock Company and returned Hammond enough money to set himself up in business as an inventor. At this time, that meant finding a way to introduce electricity into clock making.
Hammond set up his laboratory in a loft in New York City. There ho developed a synchronous motor that revolved in phase with the 60 cycle electric power which was then becoming standard. That he didn't know is Arthur Poole had applied for a patent for the electric clock in 1914.
Fortunately, Hammond found an application for his tiny, but efficient motor in 1922. It became an essential ingredient in the first three dimensional movies. Hammond filmed scenes through two cameras fixed at the distance separating human eyes. When thrown on the screen, the over-lapping pictures were viewed as a single 3-D picture through a motor-powered device with a revolving shutter that alternately exposed the scene to one eye and than the other.
A theater in New York bought the system and initial reception by audiences and critics was enthusiastic. Unfortunately, support slackened quickly and the venture died within 30 days. Hammond then made the system more economical by simplifying the viewing device to a pair of cardboard spectacles with one eyepiece red and the other green. It was this 3-D version that was revived for a short while in the '30's and again in the '50's. In 1922 it was used for spectacular stage effects in the Ziegfeld Follies and earned Hammond a modest fortune
By 1925. the revenue from the invention had ceased and Hammond was in the middle of another run of bad luck. An idea for cutting electrical bills for New York theaters went down the drain when General Electric found a forgotten patent covering the invention. A process for refining sugar with 80 percent efficiency collapsed when someone else patented a 79 percent efficient method. Even his patent for the electric clock seemed unmarketable.
Hammond was in need of employment, but he declined a job with Western Electric in favor of a laboratory partnership with E. F. Andrews, owner of the tottering Andrews Radio Company.
The A-Box Radio
Now thinking radio, Hammond and his partner sought and found a way to operate those early day battery powered receivers with household alternating current. The answer was the "A-Box" that changed alternating to direct current for the radio. A staff was quickly hired and the "A-Box" was soon in production. Things went very well... for a while. Then with profits up to $175,000, disaster struck. Complaints began to flow in that the converters were exploding, throwing acid on owners' rugs and furniture. The radio industry then came out with receivers that could be plugged directly into wall outlets. It seemed everything Laurens Hammond invented was doomed to failure.
It was back to the drawing board again. This time he concentrated on perfecting a marketable electric clock. The answer came in tile same loft over the grocery store in Evanston where the "A-box" was invented. In 1928, The Hammond Clock Company, direct predecessor of the current company, was formed.
This time1 everything clicked for Hammond. Despite stiff competition from Westinghouse and General Electric, sales soared. By 1931, profits had reached $507,720. The prospering company vacated its Evanston location for a plant on Revenswood Avenue and later to the five story building on Western Avenue which is still operated by the Hammond Organ Company.
Then the depression hit and the glutted electric industry felt the brunt of it. In 1932, clock manufacturers went out of business and dumped their remaining inventory for whatever they could get on the way ~ The Hammond Clock Company shook to its financial foundations. Profits were negligible in 1932 and the company lost nearly a quarter of a million dollars the following year. It was in this atmosphere that a young man named Stanley M. Sorensen joined. the company as a stock boy. At 16 he was competing with men with hungry families for a job. Less than 25 years later he would be president of the company and later still, Chairman of the Board of the Hammond Corporation.It is characteristic that while Hammond was in the process of surviving, lie was also attacking. One example was a device he perfected which would shuffle a pack of playing cards into four piles. He decided to build the mechanism into a bridge table and sold the unit for a rather high depression price of $25. It was a good idea, but survived only a short time... primarily because the national income had fallen to 60 percent of its January, 1929 level.
His most significant depression invention though is one for which he is now most famous; the electronic organ.
A NEW INSTRUMENT IS BORN
Hammond was motivated by what was happening to the pipe organ. The instrument had experienced a revival of interest during the period of silent movies when it was used to accompany the action on the screen. As more and more sound effects were demanded, keyboards and pipes multiplied. The console began to take on the appearance of a football bowl and architects were as challenged in finding room for the pipes as they were in arranging seating room for the audience.The disease of pipe organ gigantism. probably began at the St. Louis Fair in 1904. The "world's largest organ" was installed. It had five manuals, 232 stops and 18,000 pipes. It was later moved to Philadelphia and in 1917, it was approximately doubled in size. Enlarged though it was, the organ had to yield its title to the behemoth installed in Convention Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1932. The new champ had seven manuals, 1,233 stops and 32,882 pipes. Clearly, this was a product which could benefit from Hammond's synchronous motor.
When Hammond put his mind to developing an electronic musical instrument, others were working in the same direction. Instruments called the Theremin, Trautonium, and the Orgatron had passed briefly across the musical scene.
During the grim financial year of 1933, Hammond's third floor lab on Western Avenue filled the building with a constant din of phonograph music and weird electrical sounds, most of which were not very pleasant.
The breakthrough came one day when company employees began to hear flute sounds from the lab. The flute had been the first solo stop built into a wind organ more than 400 years earlier.
Birth of the Tone Wheel Generator
The key to the flute sounds heard on Western Avenue that day was a tone wheel generator. About the size of a silver dollar, the wheel was made with a patterned edge of protruding humps or rounded, cog-like projections. In principle, it was not unlike the mechanical tone wheels of Hooke in 1681 and Savart in 1830, but Hammond's wheel revolved in front of an electromagnet instead of a paperboard card.
As early experimenters had shown, moving metal in the field of a magnet produces an electrical current. The disturbance of the magnetic lines around the magnet varies in nature and intensity with the speed and distance of the wheel. It was Hammond's theory that bumps on the rim of the wheel would disturb the magnetic field just as well as moving the wheel forward and backward or changing its size.And it worked. By winding a wire around the magnet he was able to pick up this induced fluctuating current and feed it into a radio amplifier. There the tiny current was built up to a level where it would work a loudspeaker and disturb the air in a room so that human ears could pick up the sound waves. Like others before him, Hammond had generated electricity, but he had also discovered how to evoke exactly those electrical wave patterns that could be converted to musical notes.
This hardly solved the problem. No single pure note of the musical scale, or even all the notes, could produce the multi-wave sounds that are the essence of music. A group of engineers was assembled to solve what seemed to be the impossible problem of duplicating all the sounds of a pipe organ. The complexities of the problem almost crowded them out of the lab. At one time there was an assemblage of enough tone wheel generators, switches and wiring to stock a warehouse. This apparatus produced music of a sort, but hardly met Hammond's specifications for a relatively inexpensive instrument of rugged construction, easy to care for and, sized to fit in "the back seat of a taxicab".
A breakthrough came when Hammond purchased an old piano. He dismantled it, saving nothing but the keyboard. He equipped the keyboard with simple switches connecting each key to the two wires that led to a maze of circuitry. The result was one of those fortuitous discoveries that so often have led to great inventions. The wires leading from the little magnets that generated pure frequency tones were hooked together and attached to one of the piano keys. A new sound was produced.' One tone blended with another to produce a third and more complex wave pattern. Another generator's sound was added, and then another until it became certain that a combination of the right wire connections could build millions of tones from a limited number of generator wheels. All that remained was to do it.
The rest of 1933 and into the following year's work was directed not only toward producing pleasant and recognizable sounds, but also connecting them to a keyboard musicians would accept.
Trial and error convinced Hammond and his aides that 91 tone wheels of different shapes were sufficient to produce all the sounds required for the combinations most pleasant and familiar to the ear. However, it was necessary that they revolve at different speeds, so precisely accurate gearing had to be developed to transmit the power from a single shaft to each wheel. Two other obstacles were handled. Harmonics were built in to relieve the monotony of pure notes and an expression pedal was engineered to allow the organist to control volume and intensity.
The solution to all this complexity was found in 1,500 tiny switches and eight-and-one-half miles of wire, some as thin as human hair. Each key on the manual depressed nine switches. Each switch was connected to different drawbars that permitted the Hammond player to mix fundamental tones with overtones arid control the volume of each of these ingredients in the musical mélange of sound. Also known as "tonebars", they can be set to produce millions of different tones.
In January of 1934, Hammond took his "packing box prototype" to the United States Patent Office in Washington, D. C. In light of others failures and in the hope of pushing any product into production which might provide jobs for millions out-of-work, the Patent Office officials were more than usually attentive. When the rich tones of the new in8trument began attracting employees from all over the building, it was not difficult to predict what the result would be. The patent was granted in almost record time, on April 24, 1934.
Word spread quickly. Even before the patent was granted. on February 7 to be exact... two engineers from the Ford Motor Company came representing Henry Ford himself, well known as a music lover. Their instructions were to survey the field and determine if it would be feasible to build an electric organ. When they heard and examined the Hammond Organ, they knew that would be unnecessary. Shortly thereafter, Ford placed the first order even though the musical instrument was not yet in production. Later, when Ford heard the organ at a private demonstration, he increased the order to six.
Electronic Organ Introduction
The organ was officially unveiled to the public at the first (and only) Industrial Arts Exposition in Radio City's RCA building on April 15, l935. Pietro A. Yon, organist of St. Patrick's Cathedral and Fritz Reiner, conductor of the Chicago Symphony took turns at the keyboard. So did George Gershwin who immediately ordered one. Critical, acclaim at the debut was nearly unanimous.
Organ demonstrations were held at race tracks and skating rinks and created headline news that gave the instrument immediate popularity. The list of top flight musicians who ordered organs in those early months of 1935 reads like a Who's Who...Leopold Stokowski, Walter Damrosch, Sir Thomas Beecham, Roger Wolfe Kahn, Rudy Vallee, Lawrence Welk, Hal Kemp and many more.
Contrary to the publicity stunts, Hammond's early advertising took a dignified approach. The company's ad, which appeared in Musical America, described accomplishment as a "notable musical development". The copy stated "The Hammond Organ is a new musical instrument". Yet it is built to conform to established pipe organ standards, requires pipe organ technique to play, and produces the entire range of tone coloring necessary without sacrifices of the great works of classical organ literature. In addition, it permits many tone colors never before heard on any musical instrument. It is installed by plugging into an electric light socket...
Prices starting at $1,25O seem steep by depression standards, but the cost was negligible compared to the investment required for a pipe organ. Another plus was that the Hammond Organ never needed tuning and its maintenance was little more than an occasional drop of oil.
Twenty-five hundred organs were produced before a second model was introduced in 1936. The only change was a new case with somewhat different woodwork. The impact on the company was immediate. The quarter million deficit of 1933 was turned into that much profit in 1936 followed by $364,000 the next year. 1937 was the year a series of new models was introduced designed to meet special marketing requirements. The company was still selling clocks, but it was already apparent that organs would be a substantial part of the business so the name of the company was changed to the Hammond Instrument Company. A new plant was opened on Bloomingdale Avenue and a warehouse was leased on George Street. And a young man, names John A. Volkober joined the company as an office boy in 1937. Twenty-eight years later he was named president when Sorensen became chairman of the board.
Rockefeller Chapel Court Test
Another significant development occurred in 1937. The Federal Trade Commission asserted that Hammond's advertising claim that the instrument was an "organ" that could produce an "infinite number" of tone combinations was questionable. Laurens Hammond, more the self-effacing and quiet inventor, nevertheless decided to contest the government in one of the most amazing events in the history of music.
The FTC decided to have an impartial panel listen to a $75,000 pipe organ and a $2,600 Hammond installation to determine whether they could tell the difference. Players of both instruments were hidden from view by screens and the Hammond speaker cabinets were concealed among the organ pipes at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel.
The panel of 15 students and 15 professional musicians was asked to record whether the pipe organ or the Hammond electric organ was being played in a number of test pieces. That these jurors were wrong in their answers 10 times out of 30 was indication enough that Hammond had carved itself a permanent niche in the musical instrument field. A year later the FTC decided the company could call its instrument an organ but must desist from claiming an infinite number of tones... for, after all it could produce only 253,000,000 tones.
INNOVATIONS, ETHEL AND A WAR
The fertile mind of Laurens Hammond was not satisfied. He conceived an instrument which would produce all the sounds of an orchestra from notes generated by radio vacuum tubes. The idea was to produce an instrument which could make music resembling that of the famous dance bands of the era.
The Novachord, introduced at the 1939 New York's World's Fair seemed destined for success. Apparently, however, the public preferred to see the band and the instrument never caught on.Another instrument, introduced at about the same time, met a similar fate. In what now appears to be a curious step backward, the company offered a roll organ player. At $2,000, it was priced at more than the public wanted to pay for an automatic organ and it was discontinued at the end of the first year.
The third innovation hit the market in 1940 when Hammond introduced the Solovox, an electronic apparatus invented to augment a piano with accompaniment of orchestral sounds. The Solovox, generating sound with vacuum tubes, had a three octave keyboard like the piano, but was arranged so that it could be played in six octaves. It has 12 tone selectors that produced a broad range of sound effects instantly popular with piano entertainers and owners. Three models were brought out in the years from 1940-1948, after which it was discontinued.
While no single organist was responsible for the instrument's sudden popularity in the entertainment field, it would be hard to find one who contributed as much as Ethel Smith.
Ethel Learns A Latin Beat
Stories vary as to where Ethel first encountered the Hammond, but there is little doubt regarding the circumstances surrounding her first break in show business. It was while she was playing an engagement at the St. Regis Hotel, which had lasted to the point of being boring, that she received a phone call from the New York Hammond Studios, and was told to dress her best and rush over. When she arrived, she met the owner of the elegant Copacabana Club of Rio de Janeiro. He was looking for an attractive girl who owned a Hammond to play his club for a 26 week engagement. Ethel wanted the job and got it. She didn't have the money to buy a Hammond, but a record minimum down payment was arranged and she was soon off to South America. She stayed about a year and became fascinated with South American rhythms. They became part of her style and an instant source of identification for her music in later years.
While Ethel was in Rio, George Washington Hill, fabled head of the American Tobacco Company, heard her play. When she returned to the United States, he invited her to become a regular on the popular Saturday night radio show, The Hit Parade.
The Hit Parade launched Ethel as a major star. She went on to earn some of the highest fees ever paid a radio instrumentalist, appeared in several movies and established a music publishing house that has one of the world's largest stocks of music for the Hammond Organ. Her recording of "Tico Tico" sold more than two million copies, and her "Bouquet of Blues" disc was the first recorded collection of blues played on the Hammond.
The War Years
Perhaps the greatest effect on the company in its first decade of organ manufacture resulted from Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Hammond was immediately put into military production. A limited run of clocks was produced, and about 1,400 G.I. electric organs were made for service personnel aship and ashore around the world. The company' S manufacturing emphasis, however, was directed in a more serious area. Hammond engineers designed and manufactured many of the flight control systems used for glide bombs. New infra-red and light sensing devices were engineered for bomb guidance. A new type gyroscope for control systems, a mechanical shutter for high speed aerial cameras, a simple and inexpensive bank and turn indicator and a "throw away" device for determining a plane's altitude were some of the other contributions Hammond made to the war effort.
In the meantime, the G.I. organs were creating a new market. Men who had never been interested in a musical instrument were drawn to the organ. When they came home, they became customers.
1949 was a significant year in Hammond history. Sales growth and product diversity following the war had increased the company's need for additional office and production space. As a solution, the company purchased a building at 4200 Diversey. Later enlarged, it still serves as Hammond Organ headquarters
THE ORGAN FINDS A NEW MARKET
Prior to 1949 Hammond organs and those of competitors had not been designed primarily for the home. Since many organs were going into the home, Hammond management reasoned that an untapped market lay in plain sight for a popular priced organ with enough musical value to attract customers from the piano market as well as those who had never played an instrument.
The Hammond staff invented, designed and built the "Cinderella'1 organ and saw it transformed into the reigning princess of the industry. The new product was the Hammond Spinet Model M.
Perfectly dimensioned for the modern living room or game room, the spinet came with amplifying and speaker equipment self-contained. Though it had only 44 keys on each of its two manuals instead of the standard 61, it didn't dismay many potential buyers. They wanted organ music in their homes. And the price was right. At $1,285, the M was just $35 higher than the Hammond of a dozen years earlier.The spinet also found a home in small churches and in chapels of large ones. The ultimate compliment came when competition rushed their own smaller sized organs onto the market. Within six years, Hammond sold more spinets than all of the organs it had previously produced.
One of the results of the spinet's impact on the market was the forming of Hammond Organ Societies across the country. They provided an outlet for those music lovers interested in combining music with fun and relaxation. Today, there are over 500 of these group's active in the United States.
The "Easy" Chord Organ
For those who wondered "how much easier can an organ be Hammond had the answer in 1950. It was the chord organ. Unlike anything before, it was so eminently practical for the person who had never touched a keyboard that a whole new market opened up. At $975, it caused many families to weigh a Hammond Organ against a piano.
The Chord Model S had a single, three-octave manual with 37 keys. And it had something brand new for a keyboard instrument a panel of 96 buttons producing any of those selected chords when the key was depressed with the fingers of the left hand. It also contained a patented automatic feature of two foot pedals that selected the "root" note and the "fifth" tone of any chord played.
By then, organ sales not only surpassed clock sales, it became THE business. Hence, the name of the company was changed to the Hammond Organ Company in 1953.The signs of growth continued to appear. A new building was purchased in Melrose Park, a western suburb of Chicago. In addition, Hammond began to take a look at the industry he had created. Competition was beginning to appear in many corners of the market place. In contrast to the years immediately after the introduction of the chord organ, when the company concentrated on refinement of products, the mid-fifties saw the company expand the engineering staff. Hammond had a lead on the field and meant to keep it by offering the most features first. It was a wise step and key to Hammond's industry leadership a decade and a half later.
The company sought ways to further expand its horizons. Dealerships were expanded to broaden national distribution. Internationally, although Hammond Organs had been sold abroad as far back as the years preceding World War II, progress had been practically nil because of foreign currency restrictions. After the Korean War, the company began to move aggressively as such restrictions cased. Today, Hammond International Division accounts for a significant share of the company's business with its eight manufacturing facilities located throughout the world.
THE SIGNIFICANT SIXTIES
Thus, the stage was set when Laurens Hammond decided to call it a career in 1960. He could look back on 25 years of electric organ history with pride. He had invented a new kind of musical instrument. He founded a new industry. In his lifetime, he had been granted 90 patents. It had been a busy life, a productive life, a devoted one.Hammond left the company in good hands. For a few years prior to his retirement, he "practiced" retirement by taking vacations. This gave the former office boy, Stanley Sorensen, ample opportunity to run the company on his own. He was well prepared to take the reins when Hammond bowed out without fanfare on February 12, 1960. Since that time, he had been enjoying his well-deserved retirement between his homes here and abroad.
The years surrounding the beginning of the '60's saw Hammond move in another direction. After years of concentrating on musical tonality, the company became more aware of furniture styling. Moved by style conscious women in search of French provincial, Tudor or Contemporary designs in red mahogany, walnut or cherry. Hammond consulted interior decorators and designers. The result was that the organ became a beautiful piece or furniture as well as a versatile musical instrument.
The early sixties also found the company looking at acquisitions for the first time. Hammond acquired the Gibbs Manufacturing and Research Corporation of Janesville, Wisconsin in 1961. Gibbs, engaged in sophisticated electronics and electro-mechanical work primarily for the government, offered an opportunity to diversify in non-musical products.
Bringing Gibbs into the fold did not necessarily indicate a preference for non-musical outside growth because the company obtained Everett Piano Company of South Haven, Michigan, a moderately sized, well managed and highly respected member of the industry the following year. Sorensen was named Chairman of the Board in 1965 and John Volkober9 another man who started at the bottom of the Hammond ladder during the depression, became the company's third president.
The next measure of diversification occurred in 1968, a year destined to go down as one of the most significant in Hammond's history.
Work, dress and sports gloves became part of the Hammond picture with the acquisition of Wells-Lamont Corporation. But, while this was a significant addition, it was not the most important event of the year. In an effort to achieve greater flexibility and autonomy to its three principal core areas of growth, a new corporate structure was formed.
The Hammond Corporation
The new Hammond Corporation was designed to provide growth in three areas of product specialization: (1) Musical Instruments, (2) Specialty Apparel and (3) Time Measurement Devices.
The new framework found Sorensen moving to the pinnacle position of Chairman of the Board. Volkober was elevated from 'president of Hammond Organ to president of the Corporation. And the presidency of the Hammond Organ Company division went to David H. Kutner the first non-career employee president.
Kutner joined Hammond in 1965 as Vice President of Marketing, after an impressive background with Motorola, Zeneth and Helene Curtis. Hammond's aggressive posture in marketing in the last few years reflects his experience in this area.
While the 1960's will probably best be remembered as a decade of growth and change in company structure, it would be a mistake to overlook the company's important product innovations.The new "M" and "L" models introduced in 1961 provided vastly improved instruments in both the medium and lower priced field and, for the first time, provided tabs in addition to drawbars for tone control and playing facility.
In the field of entertainment, Hammond has always been the favorite. Organists easily shifted from the gigantic theatre organs of the past to the early, modestly sized Hammond Model A. Over the years, more and more of the theatre-type sounds were made available in improved organs, but it was not until 1965 and the Hammond X-66 (the name was taken from an engineering designation used during the development of the product), were so many theatre organ sounds incorporated into an electronic organ.
The story of the X-66 began five years before it's introduction. Hammond sponsored a contest among senior industrial design students at the Chicago Art Institute. The students were asked to let their imagination run wild.
The best designs were transferred to projection slides and shown to a panel of expert organists. From their decision, which was surprisingly unanimous, the prototype design was selected.
Year by year, ideas for the instrument were suggested, culled1 developed and rejected. Finally, the ultimate in entertainment organs was unveiled, an instrument that the company is convinced knows no competition. It is a total musical evolution from the Model A to the present, and its ''space age' design amounts to a revolution in traditional horseshoe styling. It can sound like the Model A or any subsequent model. It can sound like competitive electronic organs or like a big theatre organ. It is all things to all people.
All people, that is, except the jazz organist. In the mid-60's Hammond began to recognize the increasing influence of men like Jimmy Smith, Groove Holmes and Brother Jack McDuff on the American musical scene. Without much effort or concentration, Hammond had cornered the jazz business for years simply because of the love affair between the artists and the B-3, the only instrument on the market giving them the "dirty" sound they were looking. for.
So with an eye toward the jazz artists, as well as the sophisticated home organist, Hammond engineered an instrument for those looking for the "big sound" named the X-77. Essentially, it combined the features of the B~3 with new sounds and power the pros never got from their longtime favorite.
Hammond continued to develop new products for the home market by introducing its first non-tonebar - all electronic Model, the J series, in the under $1,000 market in 1967. This was followed by a deluxe tonebar spinet featuring a built-in rhythm unit, six rhythm voices and many of the features customers had expected only from a console model.
Hammond's final introduction of the '60's was an even greater departure. The 'N' Series became Hammond's first all tab organ in the deluxe spinet class. In addition, it featured integrated circuitry, a feature destined to become a major force in Hammond technology in the 1970's.
Hammond entered the '70's with two product goals for the decade. One, the search for new features for existing products, has been a constant and rewarding experience for four decades. The second, a new and exciting departure, is the development of new, non-organ products.
The first example of the latter approach was introduced in mid-1970. The introduction of the Autochord opened a new world of music to many non-musicians. The new instrument features a single keyboard, no pedals, automatic accompaniment and a programmed rhythm unit featuring all the "now" sounds of today's music. Unlike the organ, it does not require coordination of hands and feet.
In anticipation of the popularity of the instrument, Hammond acquired a new manufacturing facility in Johnson city, Tennessee in late 1969. In keeping with the company's new philosophy, the Johnson City installation is used entirely for the manufacture of the autochord and Hammond's non-organ products of the future.
As the company looks to the future in anticipation of new ways to use its musical know-how the logical question would seen to be: "How do you go about inventing a new musical instrument?" Ask Laurens Hammond.