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Emile Berliner (1851-1929)
The disk gramophone
Emile Berliner emigrated from Hanover, Germany to Washington, DC at
the age of
19. He studied at the Cooper Institute (now Cooper Union), worked as an
assistant in a chemistry lab, and sold dry goods to support himself.
years, he had re-invented the telephone and invented the gramophone,
making bothsuitable for mass production.
At the age of 25, Berliner invented a carbon microphone transmitter
for use in
the telephone recently invented and demonstrated to the public by Alexander Graham Bell. He
immediately sold the rights to Bell Telephone Company, which only then
to mass market the device. Later, Berliner began work on a method of
recording superior to Thomas
Edison's cylinder. In 1887, he developed a method for mapping out
a spiraling, wavering groove etched into a flat disk (first of glass,
zinc, then of plastic); the sounds were "read" by a needle,
which transmitted the
pattern of vibrations to a diaphragm, which then reproduced the original
Berliner sold the rights to his "Gramophone" (patent #372,786)
to the Victor
Talking Machine Company (later RCA), thereby providing them their first
Berliner's innovations eventually made the phonograph and telephone
household items, rather than exotic products of the laboratory. He also
what was probably the first radial aircraft engine (1908), a helicopter
and acoustical tiles (1920s). In 1911, he established a fellowship in
mother's name for the promotion of women in scientific research.
legacy also lives on in his trademark (later adopted by RCA): a picture
of a dog
listening to "his master's voice" issuing from a gramophone.