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An Examination of Early Analog and Digital Sampling—The Robb Wave Organ circa 1927

This paper examines Frank Morse Robb's work in the late 1920s and early 1930s on his Wave Organ, the first successful electronic organ. The Robb Wave Organ originally functioned by creating a visual representation of an analog pipe organ waveform through means of an oscilloscope and engraving that representation onto metal tone wheels. Later versions of the organ featured a digital, almost PCM-style, waveform representation on the tone wheels. This predates the theoretical description of PCM by Alec Reeves, as well as the PCM patent filed by Oliver and Shannon in 1946. These sample-based methods of tone generation were unique to the Robb Wave Organ, and this paper serves to place the organ within its contemporaries of that time period, most notably its primary competitor, the Hammond organ, launched in 1935.

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