The digital organ was introduced in 1971 by Allen Organ Company in Pennsylvania USA. Since that time, digital technology has become significantly more sophisticated with the highest quality digital organs now producing sounds that are indistinguishable from fine pipe organs.
Most digital organs include dedicated tone generation circuitry for sound production. This approach results in better sound quality, as well as offering greater reliability and longer-term product viability.
As general-purpose Personal Computers increased in capability, PCs can now produce organ sounds. However, while PC-based tone generation offers cost benefits to suppliers, it includes tonal compromises and support issues that are detrimental for end-users.
Organs with PC-based tone generation are referred to as “virtual organs”. Most are created by hobbyists who purchase components from different suppliers in an effort to create lower-cost solutions than real organs. However, in reality, often these PC-based solutions offer little savings.
Small companies also market PC-based organs. One located in Europe is Noorlander. Below is a photograph of a Noorlander organ’s insides. While the level of quality found in digital organs varies significantly from builder to builder, and is often dependent on price, the photo below demonstrates a quality level that should be unacceptable at any price.