Berliner Gramophone

Berliner Gramophone

1897 Berliner Gramophone Record
by George W. Johnson
Berliner Gramophone (also known as E. Berliner's Gramophone) was an early record label, the first company to produce disc "gramophone records" (as opposed to the earlier phonograph cylinder records).

Emile Berliner started marketing his disc records in 1889. These records were five inches in diameter, and offered only in Europe. At first, the use of his disc records was leased to various toy companies, which made toy phonographs or gramophones to play them on; the audio fidelity of these earliest discs was well below that of contemporary phonograph cylinder records.

In 1892 he incorporated the United States Gramophone Company in Washington D.C.. This company offered the first disc records (now seven inches in diameter and no longer intended as a toy) in November 1894 on the Berliner Gramophone label. After various mergers, divisions, lawsuits, and injunctions, this company was to give rise to the Victor Talking Machine Company in the United States in late 1900. In 1929, Victor was purchased by RCA.

In 1897 Berliner opened up his United Kingdom branch in London. This was called The Gramophone Company, then from 1900 The Gramophone & Typewriter Ltd for a few years, and much later in 1931 becoming part of EMI.

In 1898 Berliner started a German branch of the Gramophone Company to produce his disc records: Deutsche Grammophon.

Until 1901 Berliner records had no labels; instead the necessary information was etched or impressed into the master. Most pre-1901 records bear the exact date of recording. These records were almost always single-sided, although a few double-sided pressings exist from 1900; an example is on display in the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada

E. Berliner Gramophone of Canada was established in 1899 in Montreal [in the Aqueduct Street building of Northern Electric] and first marketed records and gramophones the following year. In 1904, the company received its charter as the Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada. Early recordings were imported from masters recorded in the United States until a recording studio in Montreal was established in 1906. The Berliner name as a record label lasted longest in Canada, until 1924 when it was bought out by USA's Victor, becoming RCA Victor in 1929. Berliner Gram-o-phone's facilities in Montreal, a complex of buildings at 1001 rue Lenoir and 1050 rue LaCasse in the St-Henri district, became home to RCA Victor Canada over the next several decades, developing and producing such high-tech products as microwave radio relay systems, communication satellites, television broadcast equipment, etc. Since the dissolution of RCA in 1986, the Lenoir building has been turned into a multi-use office/commercial building, but the Lacasse facility is now The Emile Berliner Museum, documenting the history of the man, his company and the building complex. The historic Studio Victor located there is still an active recording studio. []

Emile Berliner's sons, Herbert and Edgar, held senior management positions in the Canadian company until 1921 when Herbert resigned to concentrate on the Compo Company Ltd. in Lachine, Quebec, which he had formed three years earlier as a record-pressing operation to provide Canadian presence for other labels. Compo grew into a formidable competitor to the Victor and HMV labels of Berliner Gram-o-phone, and in 1935 obtained the licence to produce and distribute US Decca Records. Compo was acquired by Decca in 1951 although its Apex and Compo labels remained in circulation for another two decades. [] Herbert's younger brother, Edgar, continued as chief executive of Berliner Gram-o-phone (later renamed Victor Talking Machine Company of Canada). Ironically, Emile Berliner died in 1929, the same year RCA bought out Victor, and Edgar Berliner resigned the following year. []

"When Johnny Comes Marching Home" in audio

Berliner Gramophone recording artists

Some of the notable artists who recorded for Berliner include:
*Auguste Aramini
*Arthur Collins
*Diamond Quartette
*George W. Johnson
*Graus Mountain Choir
*Len Spencer
*Sousa's Band
*U.S. Marine Band
*Vess L. Ossman

See also

* List of record labels

External links

* [ The British Library's Kammer & Reinhardt gramophone from the 1890s]

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