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CHRONOLOGY OF MILESTONES IN POPULAR MUSIC/RECORDING PRIOR TO BEGINNING OF BILLBOARD PUBLICATION PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Barry Kowal   
Aug 16, 2013 at 04:28 PM
CHRONOLOGY OF MILESTONES IN POPULAR MUSIC/RECORDING PRIOR TO BEGINNING OF BILLBOARD PUBLICATION












December 24,1877: Thomas Alva Edison files a patent application in the USA for his latest invention,the 
phonograph.It consists of a metal cylinder with a fine spiral groove,two diaphragmand-needle units (one for 
recording and one for playback),and a small horn.The cylinder is rotated by handle while one speaks into
the recording horn;the sound collected by the horn causes the diaphragm to vibrate,driving the stylus to
form grooves into the tin foil wrapped around the cylinder.Reversing the process causes the playback 
stylus to reproduce the sounds formed by the grooves,amplified by the horn.The machine is designed 
at first for office dictation,but its possibilities for recording music,though still crude,soon become evident.
In January of 1878,the Edison Speaking Phonograph Company is formed.    

September 26,1887:The next crucial step in recording technology is introduced when Emile Berliner (who 10
years earlier invented the microphone) files a patent application for the gamophone,which utilizes zinc
discs instead of cylinders.

November 1887:Edison records his first solid-wax cylinders to replace the primitive tinfoil recordings
which could be played back one time only.His new cylinder phograph operates on battery powered by
electricity.

June 14,1888:Edison creates the North American Phonograph Company,originally to produce machines
 for business dictation.In January of 1889 the Columbia Phonograph Company is established as North American's Washington,D.C.-area license.

May 24,1889:The first commercial musical recordings are made by North American for operations of West Coast coin-operated phonographs.These "Phono-graph parlors" begun in San Francisco,enable customers to sit at a desk,order a selection for a nickel (five cents) by speaking into a tube,and listen through a separate tube connected to a cylinder phonograph in the room below while the selection is played.By the mid 1890s nearly every US city had at least one phonograph parlor.

October 1890:Columbia issues its first recording catalog,consisting soley of recordings by John Philip 
Sousa's US Marine Band.Within the next year its selection will rapidly expand as the company emerges
as a significant rival to Edison. 

1890:North America begins using the first crude record duplicating process,with up to ten tubes leading
from the master phograph to blank cylinders in other phographs:previously each record had to be made
custom made.Soon a more refined "pantograph" system makes possible 150 copies of each record.A popular artist such as "George Washington Johnson" must still record a hit like "The Laughing Song" 
literally thousands of times.  

January 1891:The Phonogram,the first publication devoted to the phonograph and recording industry 
begins.

November 9,1891:The New York debut of "A Trip To Chinatown", is the first significant long-running 
Broadway musical. One song interpolated in the show,"After The Ball" sells five million copies of 
sheet music.

April,1892:North America begins to produce cylinders for the home market as well as for the coin-slot industry,which is approaching its peak popularity.Phonograph prices (beginning at $150.) are still to 
high for most.Record demand is increasing beyond the capacity of North American to meet (a maximum
of 2,000 cylinders can now be made from each recording),so its regional member companies-New Jersey,Ohio and others in addition to Columbia-begin making their own recordings.

1894:Columbia introduces a new spring-monitored phonograph which sells for only $40.Before long the phonograph will become a fixture in the North American home.

August 1894:Edison to forestall legal maneuvers against his patents by the American Phonograph Company (which in 1895 will obtain control of Columbia),puts North American into bankruptcy.For the next two years Columbia and the regional companies will have the cylinder record business to themselves.By the 
end of the 19th century,Columbia will effectively drive the smaller companies out of business.

November 1894:Billboard Magazine begins publication as the authoratative trade weekly of the Amusement industry.

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