Born May 20 1851 - Died Aug 3 1929
Gramophone; Combined Telegraph and Telephone
Gramophone / Microphone
Patent Number(s) 372,786; 463,569
Emile Berliner invented the microphone that became part of the first Bell telephones, and his gramophone was the first record player to use disks. The carbon microphone transmitter he developed varied the contact pressure between two terminals as a voice acted against it.
The 25 year-old Berliner sold his microphone patent for $50,000 to the fledgling Bell Telephone Company paving the way for it to become one of the world's largest corporations. Berliner's gramophone differed from its contemporaries in that it used a flat disk to record sound rather than the cylinder proposed by Edison. The disk permitted inexpensive, mass duplication.
Born in Hanover, Germany, Berliner came to Washington in 1870 at age 19. He studied physics part time at the Cooper Institute (now Cooper Union) while assisting in a chemical laboratory. Most of the time he functioned as a seller of consumer dry goods. When Bell demonstrated his telephone at the U.S. Centennial Exposition, many inventors began exploring ways to improve it. Berliner's inspiration came when a telegraph operator told him that more current passed as one pressed harder on the key. Berliner's gramophone and method for duplicating records were eventually acquired by the Victor Talking Machine Company (eventually RCA). Berliner founded Deutsche Grammophon and Britain's Gramophone Co., Ltd. to market his device in Europe. His trademark, later adopted by RCA, was taken from an amusing painting from the turn of the century. The painting showed a dog, Nipper, listening to "his master's voice" on an old phonograph. Other Berliner inventions include a helicopter which flew in 1919. In 1908 he commissioned what was likely the first radial aircraft engine. He formed a public health organization that helped safeguard the U.S. milk supply. In 1911 he established the Esther Berliner (his mother) fellowship to give qualified women the opportunity to continue scientific research.