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The Victor Talking Machine Company

Appendix II
Historical Background of Important Antique Models


Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. It played cylinder records. Bell and Tainter made certain improvements.

In 1887, Emile Berliner developed a disc record and a hand-powered phonograph to play it.

In 1896, Eldridge Johnson developed a phonograph with a spring-motor for the Berliner Gramophone Company of Philadelphia.

In 1900, the year before he founded the Victor Talking Machine Company, Johnson started (with Berliner’s approval) to distribute his own products. At this time, he also introduced a greatly improved disc record and established a policy of sound merchandise and merchandising, overcame existing preju­dices, made the phonograph a respected musical instrument, offered records by the world’s best artists, advertised them lavishly, and got universal acceptance.

The Trade Mark model was the first disc phonograph with a spring motor. It was originally developed by Eldridge Johnson for Berliner in 1887.

The Toy model was offered briefly in the Fall of 1900. It was important in that it helped Eldridge Johnson establish his new business.

The Victor II model was most popular model of all phonographs with exposed horns. Demand con­tinued until 1924 but fell off sharply after 1911.

The Victrola XI. For about 10 years, Victrola phonographs with self-contained horns were a social must. This model was the most popular model of all.

The Orthophonic Victrola 8-30. This model, introduced on November 2, 1925, established an entirely new standard of reproduction and set the stage for the important developments since then. (p. 106)


Until November, 1919, when Frank Conrad of Pittsburgh broadcast records from his home, radio had been a wireless telegraph service.

To pick up Conrad’s programs and programs from commercial stations that were gradually introduced in various parts of the country during the next year or two, the public had to make its own receivers. Fabricated sets did not start up until late 1921, and then only in a limited way. They were expensive, and it was a couple of years more before they were produced in large quantities. In the meantime, there was widespread activity in homemade “Coils and Cat’s Whiskers” and crystal detectors.

This activity at home continued for some time after manufacturing started while the many publicized circuit possibilities were being screened.

The Aeriola Senior. A battery operated set with one tube. It was a definite improvement over the home-made crystal sets. It introduced radio into tens of thousands of homes and was a major step in Radio development. However, it was expensive. It had to be installed and was not easy to tune.

The Semi-Portable Superheterodyne. This model emerged as the best of the many circuits which were developed in the early 1920’s. It cut through interference, brought in distant stations (greatly desired at the time), and established a base for the future.

Radiola 24. This was the first luggage-type portable superheterodyne. While it was important at the time, it is now chiefly of interest because of its colorful design and as evidence of the progress which has been made in recent years.

Radiola 28. When used with the dynamic speaker #l04, it was the first receiver which could be plugged directly into house current. It was a notable and popular model.

Radiola 17. This model was the first receiver with AC tubes which could be plugged directly into house current. It was cheaper than the complete 28, and more compact and better styled. Production ran into the hundred thousands. It required antenna, ground, and separate speaker.

Radio Model R-7—”The Superette.” This model was a further important step in radio development. A dynamic speaker was self-contained in a cabinet styling which was very popular at the time. It was compact, complete, and popular priced.

“Personal” radio—Model BP-I0. This unit started an important trend in receiver design. The produc­tion was very large and would have been even larger if it had not been stopped by the war. Beyond its convenient size, the public was fascinated by the fact that it started to play the instant the lid was lifted.


After years of research and an investment of many millions of dollars, Models TT5 and TRK-12 were exhibited at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939. It was the first time that the public had seen Television in action. They were thrilled, but developments and production were curtailed by the war.

Model 630-TS, on the other hand, which was introduced in about a year following the end of the war, was an immediate smash hit. It was in short supply for more than a year, and was so well engineered that the chassis became a base for subsequent developments.

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