Who invented the piano? Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco of course! Don't worry, you're not the only one who didn't know. A lot of people don't know that (if you did, give yourself a nice pat on the back).
Google is hoping to make sure a lot more people do know who invented the piano by giving Bartolomeo Cristofori a doodle for his 360th birthday. Heres' a video showing the animation, and talking a bit about Cristofori's life:
Bartolomeo Cristofori was an Italian, who made musical instruments. Even before he invented the piano, that's what he did. He invented two keyboard instruments before he began his work on the piano. As described on Wikipedia:
The spinettone, Italian for "big spinet", was a large, multi-choired spinet (a harpsichord in which the strings are slanted to save space), with disposition 1 x 8', 1 x 4'; most spinets have the simple disposition 1 x 8'. This invention may have been meant to fit into a crowded orchestra pit for theatrical performances, while having the louder sound of a multi-choired instrument.
The other invention (1690) was the highly original oval spinet, a kind of virginal with the longest strings in the middle of the case.
Cristofori also built instruments of existing types, documented in the same 1700 inventory: a clavicytherium (upright harpsichord), and two harpsichords of the standard Italian 2 x 8' disposition; one of them has an unusual case made of ebony.
The first appearance of the actual piano came in 1700, at least on record, though a diary entry indicates mention of the instrument as early as 1698. Cristofori had built three pianos by 1711. Here's a 1722 Cristofori piano in the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali in Rome:
It's worth noting that Google is also celebrating Star Wars Day on its homepage with the "May the Fourth be with you" link (as pictured at the top). Of course it's celebrating by trying to get you to buy the Star Wars films from Google Play.
Images via Google, Wikimedia Commons