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Emile Berliner & The National Gramophone Company

Emile Berliner, born in Hannover, Germany,1851. During his teen years he emigrated to America. Between the time he arrived in America and the 1890’s, Berliner had developed many new technologies for the telephone and Alexander G. Bell. But we won’t go into the details on those. 1887, Berliner worked exclusively on perfecting the gramophone. The flat record disc is born. He builds his gramophone studio in Camden, NJ. Berliner introduces the "Improved Gramophone" which was fitted with a better motor with crank, developed by Eldridge R. Johnson.

1889, German Toy and Doll manufacturer Kammer & Reinhardt began manufacturing Berliner's "Toy Gramophone" and five inch records under the Kammer & Reinhardt name. Emile Berliner relied on his three companies at this time.
1892, Berliner's The United States Gramophone Company based in Washington D.C., held the patents.
1894, Berliner Gramophone Company manufactured the machines and records, Berliner Gramophone label.
1896, Frank Seaman and National Gramophone was responsible for U.S. marketing and distribution. 1897, Berliner's British Gramophone Company was founded by William Barry Owen in England.
1898, German Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft founded by Emile's brother Joseph.
1899, Berliner organized the Berliner Gram-o-phone Company in Montreal, Canada. 1900, Emile Berliner registered the trademark for his company, "Nipper" - the dog listening to a gramophone. It was taken from an original painting, created by artist Francis Barraud. Edison previously turned Barraud's painting down. Barraud paints Berliner's gramophone right over the Edison phonograph on the actual canvas.

Nipper RCA Logo Painting Berliner

As sales increased, Frank Seaman wanted to be more profitable by manufacturing gramophones. Seaman continued distributing Berliner's machines and records while developing his own Zonophone Company. Berliner saw this move as a breach of contract and separated from Seaman. Berliner then began distributing his records and machines in the US.

1899, Seaman teams up with Columbia and sue Berliner and his National Gramophone Co. Columbia was successful and in the summer of 1900 Berliner was banned from selling 'his own' machines in the United States. The Zonophone Company and Columbia takes Eldridge Johnson to court for infringing upon their U.S. patents. Berliner came to Johnson’s defense.

1900, Berliner moved his businesses to Montreal Canada, where he still had patent ownership of his designs and launched the Berliner Gram-o-Phone Company. He still retained his American Citizenship. Johnson formed a new company, the Consolidated Talking Machine Company with his business partner and attorney Leon Douglass. After a long and grueling trial, Johnson and Douglass win in court.

By 1901, Johnson’s Consolidated Talking Machine acquired Berliner's Canadian Gram-o-phone Company and was renamed the Victor Talking Machine Company. Thus, Victor Talking Machine Co. was born. Victor retains the "Nipper" Logo and trademark for the Americas.

1903, Victor Talking Machine Co. swallows up both, the Americas and British assets of Zonophon, retiring the label by 1912.

1909, Berliner's British Gramophone Company, headed by Owen, uses the new Nipper logo in the British market. Releases new record label called HMV, His Masters Voice. The Recording Angel logo is no more.

 

Berliner Gram-o-phone Label record

1912, Berliner files a patent for a propeller for a flying machine. 1918, filed a patent for a helicopter which he invented and further developed with his son Henry A. at the Berliner Aircraft Company.

1929, the Victor Talking Machine Company merged with the Radio Corporation of America to become RCA Victor. And with it, a major shareholding in the Gramophone Company.

Other Berliner inventions include; carbon battery, pnuematic hook, electric furnace generator, a telephone system, an incandescent lamp, the 'busy signal' for telephones, a microphone, heat radiating mantel for the fireplace, a combination telephone & telegraph, many gramophone disc recording methods, record substances and devices.

Emile Berliner died, after a heart attack, August 1929 in Washington D.C. at the age of 78.

 

 

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