Gramophone Records - Friday, September 25, 2015

Hello, blogfans!  We devoted yesterday's blog to an innovation made in 1877 that would eventually create an industry.  The recording of sound by Thomas Edison on flimsy aluminum evolved into wax cylinders, each of which stored somewhere around four minutes' worth of music, talking, or whatever was desired.  Surprisingly, the first discs were developed as early as 1889, but exclusively in Europe.  The inventor was a man named Emile Berliner, and the discs were five inches wide, played on hand-cranked machines he called 'gramophones.'  They were only used as toys, until Berliner brought more sophisticated discs to the United States by 1894.

Along with his American business partner Eldridge R. Johnson, Berliner improved the size and quality of his discs.  They called their business the Victor Talking Machine Company (which eventually became the RCA/Victor Company).  In 1901, they produced 10" records, and in 1903 their 12" records became the standard that inspired imitators, although the speed and length of records varied for many years.  It was not until 1925 that the speed of records became truly standardized at 78 rotations per minute (rpm) with no more than ten minutes' worth of music on an album.   These albums were generally made using shellac (also used as a lacquer for wood) and pulverized rocks and minerals.

Plastic was being developed around this time, though, and by 1931, vinyl began to appear in records.  Although more vulnerable to scratches than the 78 rpm shellac, the vinyl allowed more information to be included on the album.  Moving at 33-1/3 rpm's, long-playing vinyl records could hold up to thirty minutes' worth of music on each side, while smaller 45 rpm records held about ten minutes on each side.  The Great Depression made mass-production of these new records impractical, so Americans really didn't get to enjoy the new technology until after World War II.  But they created a revolution in music after that, with vinyl records maintaining dominance in the music industry through the 1970's.   
QUESTION:  RCA/Victor became closely associated with the classic image of a dog named Nipper looking into the horn of a phonograph.  The image is called His Master's Voice.  In 1991, he received a companion - his son.  What is his son's name?
A)  Skipper
B)  Chipper
C)  Gipper
D)  Horace

DOOLITTLE DID A LOT!  Flying has been an obsession since long before the Wright Brothers actually figured out how to do it in 1903.  By 1929, though, it swept the world.  Technology improved dramatically, and on this day in 1929, Jimmy Doolittle, who would become much more famous during World War II as the first American flyboy to attack Japan after Pearl Harbor, showed that it was possible to "fly blind."  Using only instruments, who proved you could safely land an aircraft without being able to see your landing strip, something pilots take for granted today.  

QUOTE:  The first lesson is that you can't lose a war if you have control of the air, and you can't win a war if you haven't. - Jimmy Doolittle

ANSWER:  B)  Chipper