Berliner Standard Gram-o-phon Replay machine

E. Berliner, Montreal (CAN), around 1900

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© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek

The gramophone can be used for playing back shellac records, which are being produced in increasing numbers from the turn of the century onwards. The music industry starts out in an environment of cranks and acoustic horns.

In order to circumvent Edison's patent rights to the phonograph, the American Emile Berliner starts experimenting with wax coated zinc disks instead. If one speaks into the acoustic horn, the needle etches an audio track into the spinning wax disk right down into the metal. In order to make duplication possible, the track is etched deeper still, creating a master template which can be used for pressing a large number of copies into celluloid or shellac. In order to play back these single-sided records, Berliner develops his Gram-O-Phone clockwork drive in 1898. Although this device cannot record, many music titles are soon available for playback. The arias of tenor Enrico Caruso, for example. From 1904 onwards, the German company Odeon starts producing double-sided records with a diameter of 25 and 30 centimetres, which have a length of up to six minutes. The era of the music industry begins.



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