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The Early Years

Even though Thomas Edison was the first to invent a machine that could record and playback sound, it is to Emile Berliner that we owe the greatest debt of gratitude for the spread of this new technology and the rapid growth of the sound recording industry.  Where Edison’s phonographs used cylinders that had to be recorded one at a time, Berliner’s own invention, the gramophone, made use of flat records that could be pressed in great numbers from the mould of a single original recording.  It is no wonder that records eventually won out over cylinders.

In the early years of the 20th Century, sound recording efforts in Montreal were thus primarily focused on disk cutting technology.  Efforts were made to develop better acoustic and cutting tools, as well as better suited materials for the production of records.  All the while, research was continuing in other related fields.  In 1916, this would lead to the invention of the first effective condenser microphone by E. C. Wente at Bell Labs, which was only brought to market 10 years later by Western Electric.  1924 saw the introduction of electric recording and in 1925 General Electric introduced the dynamic moving-coil loudspeaker.