A German-born inventor
who worked in the United States and Canada. He invented the modern microphone
and record player
Born on 20 May 1851, he worked as a printer and in a fabric shop, where he invented a new loom, and migrated to the USA in 1870. He began experimenting with electricity and the telephone, and in 1877 discovered an improved microphone that enabled long-distance transmission; the Bell company bought it and took him on. He left them in 1883.
In 1887 he patented the gramophone, an improvement on Thomas Edison's invention the phonograph. The gramophone used flat disks rather than Edison's wax cylinders. The Berliner Gramophone Company was set up in 1893. After a trade dispute with partners he moved to Montreal and founded a factory there. Here he first used the trademark of Nipper, the dog listening to a gramophone.
His company was bought out by Victor in 1924 and merged with RCA in 1929. Emile Berliner died on 3 August 1929.
An amateur musician, he composed a hugely successful patriotic song The Columbian Anthem in 1897. He worked on methods of stringing violins for better resonance, and studied the acoustics of halls.
When in 1890 his daughter Alice died of gastro-intestinal disorder, Berliner became a crusader for pasteurization, in which he was opposed by much of the medical establishment for thirty years. He also founded fellowships for women in science, insisting on the equality of their capabilities with men's.
And he invented an early form of helicopter in 1907; this achieved lift-off with a person attached in 1909.