It’s a bit more articulate. The original instrument designed by Cristofori (“gravecembalo con pian e forte”) around the times of Bach sounded much like an harpsichord, but with dynamic control. It gradually evolved until some important milestones.
One of them is what we often call “fortepiano”, built at the times of Mozart (who owned a Stein during his latest years), that was functionally similar to a modern pianoforte, but still sounded as a hybrid between a modern pianoforte and a harpsichord. You can hear it in countless historically informed performances of his works.
This piano quickly evolved during the times of Beethoven, whose music was also probably a stimulus to make the instrument more and more powerful. At the end of the life of Beethoven, the piano was something very much resembling our piano. Still in its infancy, but with similar and finally acquired ideas.
This instrument evolved more gradually, but with very important innovations during the 19th Century. For example, I could play a few notes on one of the Pleyels of Chopin, and was surprised at how soft the keys were. It’s also a small instrument. During the century, concert halls became bigger and bigger, so the piano grew in size, weight, importance of the metal frame and of the mechanics.
When nearing the end of the century, the cross-strings instrument (probably, this one invented or perfected by Steinway?) started replacing the old one, still much loved by Brahms. It’s probably this pre-cross-strings instrument you are referring to, when thinking about an abundance of exemplars still available up to recent times.
The older instruments can be now only found in museums. Even restored, they are not very good for everyday use. There are, however, competitions where pianists are asked to play these original instruments, and it’s for sure a different perspective on music we all know performed on modern pianos.