Updated: Jul 27, 2021
The term handpan first appeared online in the fall of 2007 on the website of an American steelpan producer Pantheon Steel. It was used to describe its own development of a new instrument that was launched as an alternative to the Hang.
Consequently, the term found its way into discussions in the now-defunct Hang-Music Forum on the Internet. The successor of this forum was founded in 2009 and was called handpan.org. In this way, the expression handpan found wide circulation as a new generic term for this group of instruments.
Handpan had become a necessary and universally understood term since PANArt had registered the name Hang as trademark for its musical instruments. It even started filing legal cases against other makers. However, on almost all counts these cases were unsuccessful, since the instrument's physical form was not protected under international patent law.
The first five instruments that are generally included by the term handpan, were Caisa by Kaisos Steel Drums (Germany, 2007), BElls by BEllart (Spain, 2009), Halo by Pantheon Steel (USA, 2009) and Spacedrum by Metal Sounds (France, 2009).
Today, significantly more than 300 handpan builders have entered the market and offer instruments that vary widely in material, manufacturing techniques, shape, sound and quality