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The origin of the National Association of Music Merchants dates back to 1902 when 52 Piano dealers who were members of the National Piano Manufacturers of America started the National Association of Piano Dealers.
The first official convention was held the following year. It would not not be named NAMM until 1920. Through the years it has provided music retailers and manufacturers an opportunity to not only interact commercially, but to promote music education and provide social and political advocacy for its members and by extension, all musicians.
In 1915 Charlie Chaplin performed a skit on how to sell pianos at the show. Thomas Edison was once a member and exhibitor. The NAMM show has also experienced much adversity during times of the great depression, throughout wars, civil rights and other periods of national crisis, but it has survived. It has survived because it has always had a purpose.