The initial idea, the realisation of a new instrument, and subsequent manufacturing and marketing of the Stylophone - and its' success - is a remarkable story.....

"can you fix my toy piano, Uncle Brian ??"

.....a child's request from a little girl to her uncle, which would lead to the 'Greatest little instrument of the century' !

The Beginning

As with most inventions, the story of how the final product came about can be fascinating, and this is indeed the case with the Stylophone.

Knowing that her uncle was 'good at this sort of thing', the young girl had made a 'repair request' on her toy piano that would lead Burt Coleman, Brian Jarvis and Ted Coleman at Movicol on a journey they could never have imagined.

The piano; a small, simple 'plink-plonk' affair bought from Woolworth's toy department; had broken.
It was a cheap mechanical toy, with a basic design of using levers to strike a note when the keys were pressed.

With time on his hands at Movicol's workshop, Brian Jarvis set about trying to repair the toy piano. This would not be just a simple repair however, as Brian's expertise and electronic know-how would lead to a somewhat different repair attempt... to make the piano 'electronic'.

Passing this 'unofficial' work-in-progress, Burt Coleman (a keen musician) asked Brian what he was doing.
Fascinated by the explanation, Burt and his brother Ted looked on with interest.

At this stage, Brian was working on the wiring and contacts that he intended to locate under the piano keys. The idea... Press a key, make an electrical circuit, and create a 'note'.

Before the keys could be connected however, the circuit would have to be checked.

Each different note would be produced by completing the circuit through its own potentiometer or 'pot' - a small adjustable component that would need turning by an exact amount to produce the correct note. With the use of a tuning fork, and by touching a single wire to one of the soldering posts, the 'A' note was tuned into the correct key circuit.

With Ted's 'perfect pitch', all the other notes either side of the initial 'A' note were then brought into tune.

The EUREKA moment!...

With the keys yet to be connected, the single wire was touched to each of the contacts in turn, to finally make sure all notes were tuned correctly.

Then, the wire was run along the contacts from one end to another.

The effect.... a recognizable glascendo.

Burt to Brian.... 'do that again!'...

A further run up the scale produces the same musical glascendo effect.

Burt's instant reaction to this seemingly insignificant repair job, and to what he had just heard....


Indeed it was, Burt had instantly realised the potential that this could be a 'musical instrument' in its own right, which could be played by simply touching a wire to a circuit. No need for keys!.

      In Burt's own words....

"It was sheer luck that we were all there together at that particular time".

And that's the birth of an idea.
Had Burt, Brian and Ted not been there at that exact moment in history, the repair job would have been completed as planned, by connecting the press-keys to the circuit, in order to make an 'electronic piano'.

There would have been no hand-held wire, no pen or 'stylus', and therefore no eventual  'Stylophone'!.

With this new concept buzzing in their heads, Burt put Brian to work on developing this idea of a 'keyless' keyboard instrument.

The subsequent prototype (shown below); based on a 'keyless' keyboard and played by a wire attached to a pen or 'stylus'; was designed and hand-made by Brian jarvis.  

The Original Prototype 'Pocket Electronic Organ'
(Presented to in 2008)

A Sunday Mirror newspaper article introducing the prototype to the public in 1967 attributed Burt Coleman as the inventor, referring to the 'brainwave' he had in spotting a potential new product.

Burt readily agrees that the 'inventor' tag used by the reporter suggesting he was the sole creator was not correct, and which had caused a little consternation!.

The Stylophone was born from one person's ability to spot a potential new product, another with the capabilities to put it together, and the whole team working to get it onto the market.

We must however go further back in time before Dubreq, to a company called  MOVIECOL.

MOVIECOL; derived from Burt Coleman's surname and the word Movie; were a company that over the years made corporate films, manufactured portable movie film equipment, and combined film and audio tracks through dubbing and recording....

The obvious next step.... PATENT IT!
15 Cricklewood Broadway, London.
As this was an invention developed within the company, the patent was applied by, and granted to, MOVIECOL.

"This was a Dubreq invention... a product of the company as a whole, not just one man!".

 Under the quickly formed new company, Dubreq, it would be refined and packaged into a marketable product, with the 'pocket electronic organ' eventually becoming what we recognise today as the famous Stylophone.

Brian's new design is submitted by Movicol for patent, and the form proudly bears his name as the inventor....