On July 26, 1994, Prince R. Nelson was granted a design patent for his infamous keytar: PORTABLE, ELECTRONIC KEYBOARD MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, U.S. Patent No. D349,127

Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During the 1980s, Prince emerged as one of the most talented up and coming musicians. He wrote his first song at the age of seven and taught himself how to play piano, drums, guitar, and eventually his keytar. His career began with the jazz band, the Prince Rogers band. In 1978, Prince signed with Warner Bros. Records and in 1992 signed the largest recording and music publishing contract in history (at the time) for $100 million. He won eight Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. A few of his most popular hits include, “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain,” “Kiss,” and many more.

Prince was a heavy defender of his intellectual property. In 2015, he made it clear that he did not want his music to appear online by pulling his songs from Spotify and Youtube due to unfair compensation. At one-point Price even had a $22 million lawsuit against 22 people who posted his live shows on social media. The lawsuit was eventually dropped but showed how serious he was about protecting his music. “Technology is cool but you’ve got to use it as opposed to letting it use you,” Prince said. Prince's Keytar PatentOn top of being an award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician he was also an inventor. Prince designed a portable electronic keyboard on a guitar’s frame he dubbed the “Purpleaxxe.” The instrument looks partly inspired by the glyph that served as Prince’s name for a good portion of the ’90s. The custom guitar-keyboard hybrid, or a “keytar,” was invented for his keyboardist, Tommy Barbarella.

After filing with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Prince was granted U.S. Patent No. D349,127 in 1994. It’s unclear how often the Purpleaxxe made appearances at Prince’s shows, but a Google image search shows it wasn’t just a flight of fancy— the keytar made appearances on stage more than once and probably inspired others to create their own versions as well.

Prince died on April 21, 2016. The next year his estate brokered new deals that allowed streaming services everywhere to publish his music. Even though it may not have been something he wanted, it was a gift to fans all over the world who mourned the loss of the artist previously known as Prince.


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