S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Emile Berliner Page keywords = Berliner Berlin Emile Emil Henry Herbert Edgar Maurice Hanover Hannover Joseph Jacob Cora Clara Oliver Carbon Microphone Gramophone Gram-O-Phone phonograph transmitter disc disk Gesellschaft RCA Victor Talking Machine Victrola Nipper His Master's Voice HMV air craft plane Joyce Fury EEMCO ERCO Ercoupe Aircoupe helicopter autogyro children milk Compo EMI Polygram Polydor Seagram Alcatel kabelmetal

Updated:   07 Mar 2014; 15:30 ET
[Page converted 07 Feb 2014
    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]

URL:  http://sbiii.com/berlemil.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/berlemil.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's

Emile Berliner


Emile Berliner and the Gramophone
I have brazenly lifted this wonderful illustration from an MIT site about and for young inventors!

Limitations on size of any single page forced me to split off the
Emile Berliner (and family) stories and Notable Berliners list from the Berliner page.

DISCLAIMER! - I am NOT related to Emile Berliner and do not claim to be!

I also have relatively little interest in Berliner discography and so provide only a limited amount of information and disc-oriented links from which you can go off on an endless quest on the Web.

Emile Berliner


    Berliner Families
    Long Island Berliners
    Author's Lineage
    Berliner Miscellany

    Additional Berliners of Note

                                                                   (Image du Musée des Ondes Emile Berliner à Montréal)
    Emile Berliner, inventor of the carbon microphone,
disc gramophone, and helicopter! (following)

    Nipper, "His Master's Voice", and a surprise!
    Henry Adler Berliner - aviation, helicopter, autogyro,
Berliner-Joyce, Ercoupe/Aircoupe, etc.

    (moved to separate page 20 Nov 2004)
Emile's Biography
    Milk and Sanitation
Talking Heads (sound boxes)

EMILE BERLINER and FAMILY - continued:
    Annotations in my copy of Emile's Biography
    Other German Berliners.

(moved from main Emile Berliner page on 22 Nov 2001)

    Museums covering Emile and Henry Berliner, et al., and their Work.
(moved from main Emile Berliner page on 22 Nov 2001)

    Library of Congress Berliner Collection
    Emile (and Henry) Berliner Links and References.
    Emile (and Henry) Berliner Bibliography.

Emile and Henry Berliner Aviation Page:
    Henry Adler Berliner - aviation, helicopter, autogyro,

Berliner-Joyce, Ercoupe/Aircoupe, etc.
    (moved from this main Emile Berliner page on 20 Nov 2004)

    Other German Berliners.
    "The Berliners of Hannover 1720 - 1997".

Emile Berliner

The best known American Berliner is Emile, who was born on 20 May 1851 in Hanover, Germany, and came here in 1870 on the HAMMONIA.  He invented the carbon microphone in 1876 and fought over it with Edison.  In 1877, Thomas A. Watson, representing Alexander Graham Bell, began the aquisition of the Berliner microphone by the Bell Telephone Company.  Then (1887), Emile invented the disk record and a method of mass producing it and the disk player, the Gramophone.  No one here wanted it; they used Edison's cylinder Phonograph.  So, he took it to Germany and founded Berliner Grammophon Gesellschaft, now the world-famous Deutsche Grammophon1 Gesellschaft*, DGG (just 100 years old in 1998).  Later, he came back to the U.S. and founded Berliner Gramophone Company; he also did the same in Canada, the Berliner Gram-o-phone2 Co., Ltd. (see a Model E), and in England, The Gramophone Co., Ltd. (now EMI).

Here, through the great courtesy of le Musée des Ondes Émile Berliner (the Museum of Emile Berliner Discs), in Montréal, is a ca. 1902 Canadian Berliner record, #871, the Frolic Polka, a piccolo solo by Mr. D. A. Lyons:

1902 Berliner record #871
(photo courtesy of le Musée des Ondes Émile Berliner - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image.]

CREDIT:  Seven-inch record, Berliner Gramophone, Montréal, ca 1902.
(Musée des Ondes Émile Berliner, Montréal - Image No. 1996.1580).

Emil Berliner would have turned 150 on 20 May 2001; DGG and their Emil Berliner Studios released a limited birthday CD, with hits from the last century and a history of Emil Berliner.

The Library of Congress released its presentation, Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry, a collection which contains a selection of more than 400 items from the Emile Berliner Papers and 108 Berliner sound recordings from the Library of Congress's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (for more details, see the Emile Berliner Continuation Page 1).

In England, on 15 Sep 1897, Barry Owens, manager of The Gramophone Co., purchased Francis Barraud's famous painting, which was then known as "Dog and Trumpet" and is now universally known and loved as "His Master's Voice", for £100; it was first used on their "Record Supplement" for January 1900.  Thus, the little dog, Nipper3, its official trademark ("His Master's Voice") from 1908 on, was NOT Berliner's pet dog after all!  Far worse yet, Barraud painted Nipper in front of an Edison-Bell cylinder phonograph and The Gramophone Co. paid him to REPAINT it!  Later the U. S. company became the Victor Talking Machine Company to celebrate its "victory" over Edison in a patent fight.  Then Emile and his son, Henry A(dler). Berliner, invented the world's first practical helicopter (1919) - actually just originally an autogyro, on the modified frame of a French light aircraft, which crashed on its maiden flight and ended up under a staircase at the Smithsonian, per grandson Oliver's letter to me of 24 Apr 1998 - but never commercialized it.  Henry went on to found several aircraft companies in the '20s (Berliner-Joyce4, EEMCO, ERCO, Aircoupe) {see below}.  There are exhibits on both Emile and Henry in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and National Air & Space Museum.  The Radio Corporation of America (RCA), under David Sarnoff@, acquired Victor in 1929; Emile Berliner died on 03 August of that year.  Grandson Oliver directs a Hollywood organization that gives the annual "MAKER OF THE MICROPHONE AWARD" in Emile's honor and is a patron of the City of London Phonograph and Gramophone Society, which honors Berliner (among other pioneers).  Oliver's reminiscences about Emile were published in the "Antique Phonograph News" ca. 1992 and I quote below from a letter from Oliver to me on 06 May 1992.  Emile's grave is in his family plot in historic Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D. C., near the famous Adams memorial, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, popularly known as "Grief".


1 - Spellings:  DGG spells it "Grammophon", with two "m"s and no terminal "e" (Germanic usage, as in "Telefon" or "Mikrofon"), as coined by Berliner, but they also spell "Emile" as "Emil", as does the Historical Museum in Hanover; I finally (12 Dec 1997) located the original 06 May 1992 letter to me from grandson Oliver in which he spells it with the terminal "e", as does Wile in the biography.  To the best of my knowledge, so did Emile, himself; a Hannover historian wrote me (and grandson Oliver confirmed on 24 Apr 1998) that Berliner was born/named "Emil", the Germanic spelling, and added the terminal "e" in a Franco-American style when he came to the U.S.  In France and Québec, naturally enough, they spell it Émile, with an initial acute accent (aigue) in truly pure, Gallic fashion.  Further, Hanover is the English spelling of the German city, Hannover, and I've given up trying to be consistent about disc vs. disk.

2 - In Canada, the corporate name is variously shown as Berliner Gramophone Co. or Berliner Gram-o-phone Co.; the latter is correct.  Emile was President until 1924 and his son, Herbert S. Berliner, ran the company as Vice President and General Manager until 1921, when he left to run a competitive disk pressing operation, the first independent Canadian disc-pressing plant, the Compo Company, Ltd. (which he had founded in 1918, later Decca, then MCA), in Lachine, Québec, both of which he then headed!  In 1921, Emile's other son, Edgar Maurice Berliner (Oliver's father) assumed the Vice Presidency of BGC.  It was Edgar who sold BGC to Victor in 1924, thus beginning the Victor Talking Machine Co. of Canada., although he stayed on as President until 1930.  VTMC became RCA Victor Company (of Canada) in 1929 and then was renamed BMG Music Canada in 1987.  I am indebted to the National Library of Canada/Bibliothèque nationale du Canada for a wealth of information, partially linked herein, and heartily recommend that you visit their fabulous site/visitez là.  Also in Quebec/Aussi à Québec, visit the/visitez le Musée des Ondes Émile Berliner (the Museum of Berliner Discs), à Montréal; their site was (like so many Québecois places) seulement en Français; they now have a new site with English text, as well!  I was delighted to learn that the museum is in the old Berliner/Victor factory (which may well still say "Home of the Victrola" on its side wall! (new Musée URL - 04 Mar 2007)

3 - Al and Linda at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have a special page on Nipper in which they document most convincingly this totally different (horrendous? sacrilegious?), and exceedingly interesting, story, q.v.  There are even sites just about Nipper at Nipperscape and Nipperhead, as well as variations on "His Master's Voice", such as "His Master's Breath" and "Her Master's Breath" brought to us by the Canadian Antique Phonograph Society!  If that isn't documentation enough, look at EMI's, Tony Gracyk's, and Heriot-Watt University/Edinburgh Business School's (Creating a Spin) fantastic Berliner history sites!  Oliver advised (24 Apr 1998) that the family (and EMI) use the term "Nipperie" for the countless souvenirs; EMI just published a second book of Nipperie, hundreds of pages long!

4 - The USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, has the sole (?) surviving Berliner-Joyce P-16!  The Berliner-Joyce XP-16 (S/N 29-326) was built after Berliner-Joyce won a contract competition with Curtiss and Boeing in April 1929.  The two-seat fighter was initially powered by a supercharged Conqueror engine driving a 2-bladed propeller giving it a top speed of 185 mph.

Note also that this page is acknowledged by the Hebrew History Federation, Ltd., which has two pages on their Website devoted to "Emil{sic} Berliner; An Unheralded Genius", "Part I - The Early Years", and and "Part II - The Later Years", by Samuel Kurinsky (links).  The two pages noted here represent a highly-detailed and slightly different and most interesting take on the life of this most inspired and inspiring man, with lots of new material on his various inventions (gramophone, helicopter, Ercoupe, etc.); I strongly recommend that you look at them, but do come back.

* 22 May 1998 - Seagrams (owned by the Bronfman family of Montréal) announced it was buying Polygram (and thus Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft), thereby creating the largest single such firm in the world!

@ - not directly related to Emile Berliner, the Website of the MIT Club of New York records that in 1916 the Club chartered the steamer Bunker Hill to take 350 alumni to the ceremonies celebrating the move of MIT's campus from Boston to Cambridge; as part of that occasion, the Marconi Company demonstrated the use of ship-to-shore radio telephony - the radio operator was none other than that same David Sarnoff!

[The David Sarnoff Library links this page in their comprehensive Bibliography.]

Thanks to Matthias Spindler of Hamburg, here are links to the "Emil Berliner Studios, Deutsche Grammophon GmbH" and to "Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft mbH", itself.  The studio is Deutsche Grammophon's recording center, in Langenhagen (near Hannover) and the other is Deutsche Grammophon's repertoire center, based in Hamburg.

Berliner and Aviation

There is a staggering amount of material on Emile and Henry A(dler). Berliner on the Web; I moved this section to it's own page on 20 Nov 2004.

A comprehensive biography of Emile Berliner, "Emile Berliner, Maker of the Microphone", by Frederic W{illiam}. Wile, published by Bobbs-Merrill Company in 1926; is now long out of print, but I have an old copy.  Oliver wrote me (on 06 May 1992) that Wile's son "was once an NBC vice president".  Oliver also wrote me (ibid), "Inasmuch as the book did not sell well, it is hard to find.  The publisher, Bobbs-Merrill, offered unsold copies at cost to the family, but the ingrates refused to buy them and they were destroyed.  They probably could have negotiated to get them for nothing and should have sent them to public libraries {amen, brother!}, but they were totally disinterested in their benefactor.  In Canada, my father found out about this...but too late."

An elderly friend loaned me his copy many years ago, then passed away without leaving it to me and it vanished.  More recently, I was able to obtain a copy in good condition and found these annotations in it; I think they are rather interesting (they have been moved to the Emile Berliner continuation page; they are well worth reading and I hope you enjoy them).

Grandson Oliver added (in his 24 Apr 1998 letter to me) that Berliner went back to Germany many times, "to Walterhausen to get Kaemmer & Reinhardt to make toy gramophones, to introduce the gramophone to the great Dr. Heinrich von Helmholtz and Dr. Werner von Siemens and the scientific community, to launch the Berliner Telefon Fabrik, and of course to launch Deutsche Grammophon".  The gramophone was actually first commercially produced as a toy by K&R in Germany in 1889; it didn't get going in the U.S. until 1894, and Deutsche Grammophon started business with the pressing of their first disks (the first ever in Europe) on 11 Jun 1898.  Oliver wrote that he would attend the exact 100th anniversary in Hannover on 11 Jun 1998 and a later September Polygram celebration but Polygram later cancelled the latter.  Oliver further writes that K&R only made the gramophones themselves; the disks were pressed here (in the U.S.) and shipped there by Emile, "including his own recording of 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star', Berliner record N° 26" {that must be quite a collector's item!}.

Per Oliver, RM Productions of Munich and London completed a documentary about Caruso in which he (Oliver) narrates "the tale of Emile's inventions and the 100th birthday of Deutsche Grammophon" in English; there is also a German version.

Here is a picture of another early Berliner disc:

Berliner Disc

My parents met Emile's son Henry on a cruise in the 60's or so but were unable to find any genealogical commonality.

Milk - Emile also got deeply involved in promoting sterilized milk for children; he organized and founded the Society for the Prevention of Sickness in 1890 and organized the first milk conference in Washington, D.C., in 1907, about pasteurization and quality.  He also fought the spread of tuberculosis, and he wrote extensively about hygiene and preventive medicine.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame, in Akron, Ohio, has a page on Emile Berliner, which added these two facts:

Berliner commissioned a radial aircraft engine in 1908 (perhaps the first ever).

In honor of his mother, he set up the Esther Berliner Fellowship in 1911
    to allow qualified women to continue scientific research
    (rather progressive,wasn't he?).


In spite of my stating at the top of this page that I have relatively little interest in Berliner discography and related disc-oriented material, I somehow ended up in possession of this gem, a brand new (original) head from a Victor Talking Machine:

(28 Aug 2005 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image.]

Box - as found

VictorHead2 VictorHead3
(28 Aug 2005 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail images - click on pictures for larger images.]

Box - as opened  |  Head - turned over

VictorHead4 VictorHead5
(28 Aug 2005 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail images - click on pictures for larger images.]

Head - obverse  |  Head - reverse

(28 Aug 2005 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image.]

Head - side view

(28 Aug 2005 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image.]

Box - fitted interior.

The box cover reads:


and the inscription on the face of the head reads (circularly):



Oh, TOO funny!  For some 47 years or more, I had lived with an in-law family heirloom, a large, laquered Chinoiserie cabinet housing an original Victor Talking Machine VICTROLA!  Originally a crank-wound model, it was converted to an electric motor sometime in the 1920s or '30s and then back to the crank.  Although not used in some 30 years or so, it still functions.  It has a built-in wooden horn as an integral part of the cabinetry, an early version of a bass reflex speaker.  Do you think it ever even occurred to me to check out the head on that unit while I had the photo setup in place not more than 10' away?  Of course not!  Well, I set everything up again and here is the later model head (not very much later):

VictorHead8 VictorHead9
(30 Aug 2005 photos by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnail images - click on pictures for larger images.]

Head - obverse  |  Head - reverse

(Cropped and altered from 30 Aug 2005 photo by and © 2005 S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
Head - side view

The inscription on the face of the head reads (circularly):

M.de F., M. IND. RGTRDA.
No. 6035. 17de ENERO. 1908.

and then horizontally, across the bottom:


The stamping around the back reads (circularly):


PATENTED JUNE 4:07, OCT. 27:08, NOV. 23:09, JAN. 11:10 AND SEPT.16:13.



The tiny dot visible at 1:00 o'clock on the inside diameter of the head opening in both rear views is a locating pin that mates with a groove and detent on the "tone arm" to keep the head from rotating or falling off.

I wonder of what material the diaphragms are made - mica, glass, or clear phenolic, and how is the lever arm bonded to the hole in the diaphragm (as good as new after 60-odd years)?

Museums featuring Emile and Henry Berliner, et al., and their work -

moved to the Emile Berliner continuation page 1 on 22 Nov 01.

Other German Berliners - moved to the Emile Berliner continuation page 1 on 22 Nov 2001.

See the bibliography for another book, about the Hannover Berliners.

One of the nicest things about having put up these Berliner pages, especially this one about Emile and his family, is the wonderful people, like Oliver, who I have met or with whom I have corresponded; one (Feb 1999) is grand-daughter Alice ("Jr.") who says that when her mother (the youngest child) was born, Emile said, "Das ist alles!" (That's all!) and so her mother(-to-be) was named Alice.  Far be it from me to disbelieve so authentic a source, but - - - .  I'd heard it before and, hey, it's a great story!  On 04 Nov 2003, I heard from her daughter, the 11th of Emile's 12 grandchildren (Alice was his 7th child).

You might wish to visit my other Berliner pages noted on the INDEX, above.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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