History of Victor Talking Machine Company

A nineteen year old Eldridge R. Johnson accepted a job as a machinist at the Standard Machine Shop in Camden, New Jersey in 1886. The financially troubled company was bought out by Mr. Johnson eight years later. It was February of 1896 when one of the marvel inventions of the century walked in his door to ask for help.

Emile Berliner invented the disc gramophone which was designed to compete with the popular Thomas Edison’s cylinder format phonograph. The problem was that Mr. Berliner requested a better spring motor to be designed by Mr. Johnson. Mr. Johnson became obsessed with the little invention and added many improvements to Mr. Berliners original model.

The company was incorporated in Camden, New Jersey in October of 1901 by Eldridge R. Johnson. It was created by merger and reorganization of two existing companies: Emile Berliner’s Berliner Gramophone Company, which produced disc records, and Johnson’s Consolidated Talking Machine Company, which produced machines for playing disc records. The company was named “The Victor” in honor of legal victories by Johnson and Berliner over Zonophone and others concerning their rights to patents on and distribution of their products.

Victor had the rights in the United States and Latin America to use the famous trademark of the dog Nipper listening to an early disc phonograph

In 1901, the phonograph cylinder produced primarily by Edison and Columbia, still dominated the market for recorded sound. Disc records and phonographs were widely considered to be little more than toys, for they were cheaper, less reliable and usually of lower audio fidelity than the cylinder records. Johnson embarked on efforts to change these perceptions. He built more reliable spring-wound phonographs out of durable materials and hired engineers to research improved sound for the recordings. Within a few years, Victor was producing records with some of the finest audio fidelity of the era.