The A-Z of the piano

We celebrate the world's most popular instrument with a look at 26 of its greatest features

E is for Eighty-eight (more or less) – the keyboard

The earliest extant piano (Cristofori, 1720) has a range of four octaves and a fourth (C-f3). Six-octave keyboards began to arrive in the 1790s but it was not until nearly 100 years later that the 88-note/seven-and-a-third octave (AAA-a5) keyboard became standard. Considerations of size and tone make anything larger of dubious merit.