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The History of Recorded Music

1800's | 1900's-1920's | 1930's-1950's | 1960's-1980's | 1990's

1900 E.R. Johnson first used the ‘His Master’s Voice’ trade mark.

1901 Berliner and Johnson joined interests in the Victor Talking Machine Co. The original etched plate method of reproduction was being replaced by recording on a thick wax blank. Bitter litigation between rival companies alleging patent infringement almost destroyed the entire business.

1902 Caruso had made his first of many records, and records by Dame Nellie Melba were released. The popularity of the cylinder had begun to decline.

1903 The first 12 inch) diameter records were released on the Monarch label. HMV Italiana released Verdi’s ‘Ernani’ on 40 single sided discs.

1904 Fleming invented the diode thermionic valve and, later, Lee de Forest the triode. Electrical recording had become a possibility.

1906 The Victor Company’s Victrola model gramophone first appeared. Victrola was to become a generic term.

1908 Edison continued to persevere with the cylinder machine but the disc was proving ever stronger competition.

1917 The first jazz releases on cylinder helped to delay the final demise of this format. Leopold Stokowski, with the Philadelphia Orchestra, began recording for the Victor Company at the Camden, New Jersey studios.

1919 Electrical recording was in the experimental stage. Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra produced the first million seller with ‘Japanese Sandman’ coupled with ‘Whispering’ and began a major new popular music craze that boosted the record industry throughout the decade. Garrard Engineering, a subsidiary of the British Crown jewellers, commenced manufacture of precision clockwork gramophone motors.

1922 Mons Remy of Belgium and Messieurs Dolon, Renaux and Debrabant, of France, together applied for a French patent covering constant linear speed recording. In England Noel Pemberton Billing independently developed a similar system, UK Patent 195,673/204,728. Pemberton Billing is also famous for founding the Supermarine Aircraft Company which made the Schneider Trophy Winners and the Spitfire of World War II.

1923 The record business was becoming seriously depressed by the growing popularity of radio.

1925 The first ‘electrical’ recordings were issued by Victor and Colombia in the US. In March, Alfred Cortot electrically recorded works by Chopin and Schubert in Victor’s Camden Studios. The first commercial electrical recording prompted all other major companies to follow suit. In June Jack Hylton and his Orchestra used the technique to record ‘Feelin’ Kind O’ Blue’ at the HMV Studios at Hayes, Middlesex. HMV also released the first electrically recorded symphony.

1927 Bartlett Jones of Chicago was granted a US patent for dummy head (kunstkopf) stereo. ‘The Jazz Singer’, not the first but the most famous talking picture was released. The British Broadcasting Company started taking the gramophone seriously by commencing a regular long running record programme presented by Christopher Stone, brother-in-law of the novelist, Compton Mackenzie, the founder and first editor of ‘The Gramophone’

1928 The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) bought the Victor Talking Machine Company.

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Last Update: April 2, 2000