Pipe organs have played a prominent role in church music for centuries. With advances in technology, alternatives became available, starting with the electro-mechanical Hammond Organ, and later analog oscillator technology.
In 1971, with the introduction by Allen Organ Company of the first digitally sampled organ, it became possible to produce more realistic pipe sounds without pipes. Today, most church organs use digital sampling. However, as with pipe organs, not all digital organs are equal.
Today, the finest digital organs can stand up to a direct side-by-side comparison with quality pipe organs. Below is a video of a two-organ concert in Rijssen, The Netherlands, with a small Allen digital organ and a fine pipe organ. The results are amazing, especially when considering that a pipe organ of this magnitude cost at least 20 times more than the digital organ. Just imagine the results if the comparison was made to a larger digital organ!