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 phonograph record (called a gramophone record in British English and originally also in American English) and the Gramophone.
He founded the United States Gramophone Company in 1894, The Gramophone Company in London, England, in 1897, Deutsche Grammophon in Hanover, Germany, in 1898 and Berliner Gram-o-phone Company of Canada in Montreal in 1899 (chartered in 1904).
Berliner was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1851 into a Jewish merchant family. Though raised in a Jewish family, he later became an agnostic.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
In 1886 Berliner began experimenting with methods of sound recording. He was granted his first patent for what he called the "Gramophone" in 1887.
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.
He began marketing seven-inch records and a more substantial Gramophone, which was, however, still hand-propelled like the smaller toy machine.
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.
In fact 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.
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, which merged to become Berliner-Joyce Aircraft in 1929.
Berliner, who suffered a nervous breakdown in 1914, was also active in advocating improvements in public health and sanitation.
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.
Emile Berliner died of a heart attack at the age of 78 and is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C., alongside his wife and a son.
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1803 – 1882
1854 – 1900
1942 – 2016
1928 – 2014
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