An orchestrion is an automated orchestra generally intended for large, public rooms. It consists of several different musical instruments combined within an enclosing case. These instruments (pipes, strings, reeds, bells, xylophones, metallophones, percussion instruments) are all played from a single musical program.
The first orchestrions date from the early 19th century. Their heyday was the period from 1880 to 1930. Their paper roll programming with pneumatic reading and transmission went hand in hand with that of the pianola, providing an enormous impulse for renowned firms such as Imhoff & Muckle, Welte, Weber, Hupfeld and Philipps.
The end of the orchestrion period came with the worldwide economic crisis of 1929 and the introduction of the gramophone and the radio.