I first met Dr Sanderson in 1977 at the North Bennet Street School in Boston MA.
Sanderson had been receiving instruction from our instructor the head of the Piano Technology Department (Bill Garlick) and simultaneously working on his Sight-o-Tuner (soon to become the Accu-Tuner in later incarnations.)
Bill Garlick had such great ears that in the 1970s he acted as the barometer for Dr Sanderson’s work and during Sanderson’s visit to our school one morning it became apparent that Bill Garlick was invaluable in aiding Sanderson’s work on the early Accu-Tuner.
The Boston Globe has provided the following information.
Albert E. Sanderson, a Harvard instructor whose piano-tuning device changed the art 30 years ago,
died of cancer Sunday at Concord Park in West Concord. He was 80 and had lived in Carlisle most of his life.
He held many patents, including eight for his Accu-Tuner for piano.
Born in Bethlehem, Pa., Mr. Sanderson was the eldest of three brothers. His father was an engineer for Bethlehem Steel before moving to Boston, where he became a professor at Northeastern University.
Dr. Sanderson and his wife, Mary (McGettigan), were married for 59 years.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949 and his master’s degree in engineering and physics in 1950, all from Harvard, before working as an electronics engineer for Aircraft Radio Corp. in New Jersey and General Radio Co. of Concord.
Dr. Sanderson received a doctorate in applied physics from Harvard University in 1969.
From 1960 to 1973, he was director of the Harvard Electronics Design Center, which made custom instruments for Harvard research departments. He also taught engineering and physics at Harvard for eight years
Mr. Sanderson decided he could figure out how to tune his piano. He took tuning lessons and dreamed up a device that used mathematical formulas to measure how true a piano’s tuning was.
In 1972, he launched Inventronics Inc., now in Tyngsborough, to handle the licensing of patents and manufacturing of inventions, including the Sanderson Accu-Tuner.
Among early fans of the device was Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler. “It is a remarkable instrument which every tuner should have and which every orchestra, music director, and those who tune their own instruments could well use,” Fiedler wrote in a 1974 testimonial letter.
The response from piano tuners was lukewarm. Mr. Sanderson hit the convention circuit and trade shows to promote his invention and to try to convince professional tuners that he wasn’t trying to replace them.
“He developed an instrument that matched the ear in many ways,” his son Paul said. “He’d never say it was better, but he would say it was a great aid to the ear.”
His sons’ most enduring memory of their father is of a hardworking man clutching a pencil and legal pad.
“He always seemed to have something, an equation or some sort of problem, he was solving,” David said.
In addition to his wife, sons, and brother, Mr. Sanderson leaves another brother, Richard of Peterborough, N.H.; two daughters, Linda Dwyer of Hadley and Kathryn Fox of Upton; and 11 grandchildren.