Emile Berliner

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Emile Berliner
Emile Berliner.jpg
Emile Berliner
BornMay 20, 1851 (1851-05-20)
DiedAugust 3, 1929 (1929-08-04) (aged 78)
Washington, D.C., United States
Resting place Rock Creek Cemetery
NationalityGerman, American
Alma mater Cooper Union Institute
Occupation Inventor
Known for Disc record, microphone
Spouse(s)
Cora Adler(m. 18811929)
Children7; including Henry Berliner
Awards Elliott Cresson Medal (1913)

Emile Berliner (May 20, 1851 – August 3, 1929), originally Emil Berliner, was a German-born American inventor. He is best known for inventing the flat disc record (called a "gramophone record" in British and American English) and the Gramophone. He founded the United States Gramophone Company in 1894, [1] The Gramophone Company in London, England, in 1897, Deutsche Grammophon in Hanover, Germany, in 1898, Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada in Montreal in 1899 (chartered in 1904), and Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901 with Eldridge Johnson.

Berliner Gramophone US record label, imprint of United States Gramophone Company; worlds first record label

Berliner Gramophone – its discs identified with an etched-in "E. Berliner's Gramophone" as the logo – was the first disc record label in the world. Its records were played on Emile Berliner's invention, the Gramophone, which competed with the wax cylinder–playing phonographs that were more common in the 1890s.

The Gramophone Company Limited , based in the United Kingdom and founded on behalf of Emil Berliner, was one of the early recording companies, the parent organisation for the His Master's Voice (HMV) label, and the European affiliate of the American Victor Talking Machine Company. Although the company merged with the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1931 to form Electric and Musical Industries Limited (EMI), its name "The Gramophone Company Limited" continued in the UK into the 1970s.

Deutsche Grammophon record label

Deutsche Grammophon (DGG) is a German classical music record label that was the precursor of the corporation PolyGram. Headquarted in Berlin Friedrichshain, it is now part of Universal Music Group (UMG) since its merger with the UMG family of labels in 1999. It is the oldest surviving established record company.

Contents

Early life

Berliner was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1851 into a Jewish merchant family. Though raised Jewish, he later became an agnostic. [2] [3] He completed an apprenticeship to become a merchant, as was family tradition. While his real hobby was invention, he worked as an accountant to make ends meet. To avoid being drafted for the Franco-Prussian War, Berliner migrated to the United States of America in 1870 with a friend of his father's, in whose shop he worked in Washington, D.C. [4] He moved to New York and, living off temporary work, such as doing the paper route and cleaning bottles, he studied physics at night at the Cooper Union Institute. [5]

Hanover Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Hanover or Hannover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony. Its 535,061 (2017) inhabitants make it the thirteenth-largest city of Germany, as well as the third-largest city of Northern Germany after Hamburg and Bremen. The city lies at the confluence of the River Leine and its tributary Ihme, in the south of the North German Plain, and is the largest city of the Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region. It is the fifth-largest city in the Low German dialect area after Hamburg, Dortmund, Essen, and Bremen.

Franco-Prussian War significant conflict pitting the Second French Empire against the Kingdom of Prussia and its allies

The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the War of 1870, was a conflict between the Second French Empire and later the Third French Republic, and the German states of the North German Confederation led by the Kingdom of Prussia. Lasting from 19 July 1870 to 28 January 1871, the conflict was caused by Prussian ambitions to extend German unification and French fears of the shift in the European balance of power that would result if the Prussians succeeded. Some historians argue that the Prussian chancellor Otto von Bismarck deliberately provoked the French into declaring war on Prussia in order to draw the independent southern German states—Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse-Darmstadt—into an alliance with the North German Confederation dominated by Prussia, while others contend that Bismarck did not plan anything and merely exploited the circumstances as they unfolded. None, however, dispute the fact that Bismarck must have recognized the potential for new German alliances, given the situation as a whole.

Washington, D.C. Capital of the United States

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, the first President of the United States and a Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.

Career

After some time working in a livery stable, he became interested in the new audio technology of the telephone and phonograph, and invented an improved telephone transmitter (one of the first type of microphones). The patent was acquired by the Bell Telephone Company (see The Telephone Cases ). In America, Thomas Edison and Berliner fought a long legal battle over the patent rights. But on February 27, 1901 the United States Court of Appeal declared the patent void and awarded Edison full rights to the invention, stating "Edison preceded Berliner in the transmission of speech...The use of carbon in a transmitter is, beyond controversy, the invention of Edison" and the Berliner patent was ruled invalid. [6] [7] Berliner subsequently moved to Boston in 1877 and worked for Bell Telephone until 1883, when he returned to Washington and established himself as a private researcher. Emile Berliner became a United States citizen in 1881. Berliner also invented what was probably the first radial aircraft engine (1908), a helicopter (1919), and acoustical tiles (1920s).

Sound mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing; pressure wave, generated by vibrating structure

In physics, sound is a vibration that typically propagates as an audible wave of pressure, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid.

Telephone telecommunications device

A telephone, or phone, is a telecommunications device that permits two or more users to conduct a conversation when they are too far apart to be heard directly. A telephone converts sound, typically and most efficiently the human voice, into electronic signals that are transmitted via cables and other communication channels to another telephone which reproduces the sound to the receiving user.

Phonograph device for playback of acoustic sounds stored as deviations on a disk or cylinder

The phonograph is a device for the mechanical recording and reproduction of sound. In its later forms, it is also called a gramophone or, since the 1940s, a record player. The sound vibration waveforms are recorded as corresponding physical deviations of a spiral groove engraved, etched, incised, or impressed into the surface of a rotating cylinder or disc, called a "record". To recreate the sound, the surface is similarly rotated while a playback stylus traces the groove and is therefore vibrated by it, very faintly reproducing the recorded sound. In early acoustic phonographs, the stylus vibrated a diaphragm which produced sound waves which were coupled to the open air through a flaring horn, or directly to the listener's ears through stethoscope-type earphones.

1897 Berliner Gramophone record BerlinerDisc1897.jpg
1897 Berliner Gramophone record

In 1886 Berliner began experimenting with methods of sound recording. He was granted his first patent for what he called the "Gramophone" in 1887. The patent described recording sound using horizontal modulation of a stylus as it traced a line on a rotating cylindrical surface coated with an unresisting opaque material such as lampblack, subsequently fixed with varnish and used to photoengrave a corresponding groove into the surface of a metal playback cylinder. In practice, Berliner opted for the disc format, which made the photoengraving step much less difficult and offered the prospect of making multiple copies of the result by some simpler process such as electrotyping, molding or stamping. In 1888 Berliner was using a more direct recording method, in which the stylus traced a line through a very thin coating of wax on a zinc disc, which was then etched in acid to convert the line of bared metal into a playable groove.

Patent set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee so that he has a temporary monopoly

A patent is a form of intellectual property. A patent gives its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, and importing an invention for a limited period of time, usually twenty years. The patent rights are granted in exchange for an enabling public disclosure of the invention. In most countries patent rights fall under civil law and the patent holder needs to sue someone infringing the patent in order to enforce his or her rights. In some industries patents are an essential form of competitive advantage; in others they are irrelevant.

In electronics and telecommunications, modulation is the process of varying one or more properties of a periodic waveform, called the carrier signal, with a modulating signal that typically contains information to be transmitted. Most radio systems in the 20th century used frequency modulation (FM) or amplitude modulation (AM) for radio broadcast.

Stylus a writing utensil

A stylus, plural styli or styluses, is a writing utensil or a small tool for some other form of marking or shaping, for example, in pottery. It can also be a computer accessory that is used to assist in navigating or providing more precision when using touchscreens. It usually refers to a narrow elongated staff, similar to a modern ballpoint pen. Many styluses are heavily curved to be held more easily. Another widely used writing tool is the stylus used by blind users in conjunction with the slate for punching out the dots in Braille.

By 1890 a Berliner licensee in Germany was manufacturing a toy Gramophone and five-inch hard rubber discs (stamped-out replicas of etched zinc master discs), but because key US patents were still pending they were sold only in Europe. Berliner meant his Gramophone to be more than a mere toy, and in 1894 he persuaded a group of businessmen to invest $25,000, with which he started the United States Gramophone Company. [1] He began marketing seven-inch records and a more substantial Gramophone, which was, however, still hand-propelled like the smaller toy machine.

The difficulty in using early hand-driven Gramophones was getting the turntable to rotate at an acceptably steady speed while playing a disc. Engineer Eldridge R. Johnson, the owner of a small machine shop in Camden, New Jersey, assisted Berliner in developing a suitable low-cost wind-up spring motor for the Gramophone and became Berliner's manufacturer. Berliner gave Frank Seaman the exclusive sales rights in the US, but after disagreements Seaman began selling his own version of the Gramophone, as well as unauthorized copies of Berliner's records, and Berliner was legally barred from selling his own products. The US Berliner Gramophone Company shut down in mid-1900 and Berliner moved to Canada. Following various legal maneuvers, the Victor Talking Machine Company was officially founded by Eldridge Johnson in 1901 and the trade name "Gramophone" was completely and permanently abandoned in the US, although its use continued elsewhere. The Berliner Gramophone Co. of Canada was chartered on 8 April 1904 and reorganized as the Berliner Gramophone Co. in 1909 in Montreal's district Saint Henri.

Eldridge R. Johnson phonograph producer and co-creator of Viktor Talking Machine Company

Eldridge Reeves Johnson was an American businessman and engineer who founded the Victor Talking Machine Company and built it into the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time.

Victor Talking Machine Company American record company and phonograph manufacturer headquartered in Camden, New Jersey

The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American record company and phonograph manufacturer headquartered in Camden, New Jersey.

The Gramophone

The Gramophone was presented as an apparatus for making permanent records of the human voice or other sounds, including music of all kinds and for reproducing the same at any time thereafter as often as desired. The records were of hard rubber, solid metal or other indestructible material and could therefore be handled without fear of breaking or injuring them. The sound records were grooves of even depth but of varying direction, as apposed to those of straight lines and various depths in the Phonograph and Graphophone. These records could be multiplied at will to any extent, and each copy would sound precisely like the original.

It was based on the Leon Scott Phonautograph, which was invented nearly forty years before, and which traced sound as curvilinear lines upon the smoked surface of a brass cylinder by means of a diaphragm with a stylus attached to its center. Early in 1877, or six months before the discovery of the phonograph principle by indenting tin-foil or wax, Charles Cros, of Paris, had conceived and placed on file the theory that if the curvilinear record of a Scott Phonautograph be photo-engraved, and such an engraving be made to act again on a stylus attached to a diaphragm, the original sound would be reproduced with absolute accuracy. This was the first conception of a spund-reproducing machine. Cros, however, did not put this idea into practical operation, presumably on account of the many technical difficulties which had to be overcome in order to accomplish it.

Emile Berliner undertook to reproduce the human voice on a similar principle, and after much study and experimenting, secured fundamental patents covering the general process and its essential details. In his machine, which he called The Gramophone (from phonautogram or phonautographic record) the voice was first traced in curvilinear lines as in the Scott machine, but on a metal plate covered with a very delicate layer of fatty etching ground, and the lines were then “etched” in to the metal plate by immersing the same in acid. From this faithfully etched record the voice could readily be reproduced, and copied at will by electrotyping or other modes of multiplying.

"Future generations will be able to condense into the brief space of twenty minutes the tone pictures of a lifetime - five minutes of childish prattle, five moments embalming the last feeble utterrances from the death-bed. Will this not seem like holding veritable communion with immortality?" [8]
Berliner Gramophone Company
Berliner with an experimental disc and Gramophone he had previously exhibited in 1888 Emile Berliner with phonograph.jpg
Berliner with an experimental disc and Gramophone he had previously exhibited in 1888

Berliner's other inventions include a new type of loom for mass-production of cloth; an acoustic tile; and an early version of the helicopter. According to a July 1, 1909, report in The New York Times, a helicopter built by Berliner and J. Newton Williams of Derby, Connecticut, had lifted its operator (Williams) "from the ground on three occasions" at Berliner's laboratory in the Brightwood neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Between 1907 and 1926, Berliner dedicated himself to improving the technologies of vertical flight through the development of a light-weight rotary engine, which he improved upon throughout the 1910s and 1920s. With R.S. Moore, also a Scientist and Inventor, as his chief assistant, Berliner obtained automobile engines from the Adams Company in Dubuque Iowa, manufacturer of the Adams-Farwell automobile. This car used air cooled three or five cylinder rotary engines which were developed in-house by Fay Oliver Farwell (1859–1935). Berliner and Farwell adapted them for use in perfecting "machines" produced for vertical flight. His realizations allowed him to move away from the heavy in-line engines to lighter rotary models, which led to the invention of a 6-hp rotary engine for the improvement of vertical flight. It was these experiments that led to the formal creation of the Gyro Motor Company in 1909. And it was the creation of the 6-hp rotary engine that initiated the use of rotary engines in aviation. The Gyro Motor Company manufactured these and other improved versions of the Gyro Engine between 1909 and roughly 1926. The building used for these operations exists at 774 Girard Street, NW, Washington DC, where its principal facade is in the Fairmont-Girard alleyway.

Adams-Farwell rotary engine redesigned for use in a gyrocopter (1909) Adams-Farwell Gyro Motor Rotary 5.jpg
Adams-Farwell rotary engine redesigned for use in a gyrocopter (1909)

By 1910, continuing to advance vertical flight, Berliner experimented with the use of a vertically mounted tail rotor to counteract torque on his single main rotor design. And it was this configuration that led to the mechanical development of practical helicopters of the 1940s. When the Gyro Motor Company opened, Spencer Heath (1876–1963), a mechanical engineer (among other things), became the manager. Heath was connected with the American Propeller Company, also a manufacturer of aeronautical related mechanisms and products in Baltimore, Maryland. Both R.S. Moore, Designer and Engineer, and Joseph Sanders (1877–1944), inventor, engineer, and manufacturer, were involved in the original operations of the company. Berliner was president of the newly founded Gyro Motor Company and much of his time was spent dealing with business operations.

On July 16, 1922, Berliner and his son, Henry, demonstrated a working helicopter for the United States Army. Henry became disillusioned with helicopters in 1925, and in 1926 founded the Berliner Aircraft Company, [9] which merged to become Berliner-Joyce Aircraft in 1929.

Berliner, who suffered a nervous breakdown in 1914, [10] was also active in advocating improvements in public health and sanitation. He also advocated for women's equality and, in 1908, established the scholarship program, Sarah Berliner Research Fellowship, in honor of his mother. Berliner also supported and advocated Zionism. [11]

Awards

Berliner was awarded the Franklin Institute's John Scott Medal in 1897, and later the Elliott Cresson Medal in 1913 and the Franklin Medal in 1929.

Death

On August 3, 1929, Berliner died of a heart attack at his home at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C., at the age of 78. [11] He is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C., alongside his wife and a son. [12]

Publications

Books

Emile Berliner with a veiled woman EmileBerliner.jpg
Emile Berliner with a veiled woman

Patents

Marker for the Berliner family in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C. Berliner-marker.jpg
Marker for the Berliner family in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Patent images in TIFF format

Related Research Articles

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Charles Sumner Tainter 19th and 20th-century American inventor and businessman

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The Berliner Helicopters were a series of experimental helicopters built by Henry Berliner between 1922 and 1925. The helicopters had only limited controllability but were the most significant step forward in helicopter design in the USA until the production of the Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter in 1940. The 1922 flights of the Berliner and the de Bothezat H1 were the first by manned helicopters.

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References

  1. 1 2 Library of Congress. "Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry: The Gramophone". Retrieved 2017-01-19.
  2. "Concerning Emile Berliner, The Jew TO BE a Jew may mean one of several identities. For example, the Jew, Emile Berliner, the late inventor, called himself agnostic." B'nai B'rith, The National Jewish monthly: Volume 43; Volume 43.
  3. "In 1899, Berliner wrote a book, Conclusions, that speaks of his agnostic ideas on religion and philosophy." Seymour Brody, Jewish heroes & heroines of America: 151 true stories of Jewish American heroism (2003), page 119.
  4. "Emil Berliner: Google würdigt den Schallplatten-Erfinder – NETZWELT". Netzwelt.de. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  5. "Emil Berliners 160. Geburtstag: Google Doodle für den Erfinder der Schallplatte – Kultur". Stern.De. 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2013-07-25.
  6. Inventors Hall of Fame Archived June 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine , E. Berliner, U.S. Patent 0,463,569 filed June 1877, issued November 1891
  7. "Engineering and Technology History Wiki: Telephones – Variable Resistance Transmitters" . Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  8. Berliner, E., Berliner Gramophone Co & Berliner Gramophone Company. (1871) Gramophone: invented by Emile Berliner, "reproducing the human voice". Berliner Gramophone Company, Philadelphia. [Image] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/berl0190/.
  9. "Berliner Helicopter, Model 1924". National Air and Space Museum. 1998. Retrieved 17 June 2010.
  10. "In the Public Eye". Technology Review. 23: 60–1. January 1921.
  11. 1 2 Frank, Caso (June 8, 2011). "Emile Berliner (1851-1929)". Immigrant Entrepreneurship. German Historical Institute. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  12. Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed (3 ed.). McFarland. p. 59. ISBN   978-1-476-62599-7.

Further reading

Bibliography

Berliner, E., Berliner Gramophone Co & Berliner Gramophone Company. (1871) Gramophone: invented by Emile Berliner, "reproducing the human voice". Berliner Gramophone Company, Philadelphia. [Image] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/berl0190/.