THE GRAMOPHONE STORY:As the Edison versus Bell/Tainter contest was going on, Emile Berliner in Washington, D.C., began to take a great interest in the future of sound recording and reproduction. As he had done earlier with Bell’s telephone, he began by examining in detail both the phonograph and the gramphophone in order to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each. He soon formed the following conclusions: the wax cylinder, while a vast improvement over the tinfoil cylinder, was too soft and fragile for making a permanent recording. A wax cylinder would wear out quickly so some more durable substance was required. The vertical cut (or hill-and-dale cut) grooves were often not deep enough to keep the stylus from skidding across the surface of the cylinder. To avoid this both the phonograph and the graphophone had the stylus attached to a feed screw that would carry it over the cylinder. A constantly deep groove would enable the feed screw to be eliminated, but that would require the use of something different from the vertical cut. A soft wax cylinder could not be mass-produced, so if recordings were ever to be widely disseminated, some method of mass-producing exact facsimiles was required. All of this added up to the fact that there was a need in the sound recording and reproduction field for a different type of machine, one that did not use soft wax cylinders, one that did not use the vertical-cut groove that was alternately deep with loud sounds and shallow with soft sounds, and one that employed a relatively hard and permanent record that could be easily reproduced in vast numbers. These problems were, of course, recognized by Edison and Tainter, who was largely responsible for the graphophone, but by the time they had overcome many of the cylinder’s defects, the cylinder record was already doomed to extinction by the disc record.Berliner left one other legacy to the record industry.
On a trip to London in 1899, Berliner visited the offices of the London branch. There he noticed a painting hanging on the wall of a small dog with cocked head posed in front of Johnson’s gramophone machine. The little terrier was listening to his master’s voice coming from the horn. It had been painted by an English artist named Francis Barraud using his own little dog Nipper as the model. Berliner contacted Barraud and asked him to make a copy. Berliner brought the copy back to the U.S. and immediately sought a trademark for the painting. The trademark was granted by the Patent Office on July 10, 1900, just too late for Berliner to use it. However he let the Montreal Office use it and he passed it on to Eldridge R. Johnson, who began to print it on his Victor record catalogs and then on the paper labels of the discs. Then the gramophone branches overseas took it up and shortly “His Master’s Voice” became one of the best-known trademarks in the world.