October of 1894, E. R. Johnson became sole owner of the Scull Machine
Shop at 108 N. Front Street, Camden. He regarded this as the beginning
of the Victor Talking Machine Company.
February of 1896, E. R. Johnson saw his first Gramophone. It was hand
powered. He developed a spring motor and sound box for it, and made 100
for the Berliner Gramophone Co. of Philadelphia before October 15,
1896. The horns and cabinets were vendor supplied. Orders for more
followed, but the quantity was not known. The shop employed 2 to 16
men. Production was probably small since Berliner was the only
customer. Berliner gave the National Gramophone Co. (Frank Seaman) an
exclusive sales contract for all of the United States except for the
District of Columbia (10/10/96).
During 1896, Mr. Johnson
invented and demonstrated the practicability of a new recording process
(Electrotyped masters from wax discs).
Wm. Barry Owen, Sales Manager
for the National Gramophone Co. (Berliner’s Sales Agent),
went to London to sell foreign rights to Berliner’s patent.
He was not successful at the start, but finally persuaded E. Trevor
Williams to join him in a £15,000 undertaking to sell the
Gramophone which Mr. Johnson was making for Berliner.
Production continued on this
Gramophone for Berliner. Berliner sold Seaman. Seaman also sold London.
activity in record development. No record manufacturing.
R. Johnson went to London in June. Arranged to sell London direct
(motor parts and sound boxes only).
Nafey spent from January 1898 to September 1898 developing the
recording process to the point of manufacture. He made about 25
matrixes late 1898. Electrotyped matrixes were made by Franklin
Electrotype Co. of Philadelphia. Sample records were pressed by
Duranoid Mfg. Co. of Newark, New Jersey. No records were sold.
There was a full page
Zonophone (an infringement of the Gramophone by Frank Seaman)
advertisement in Munsey’s for
instruments to Berliner Gramophone Co. of Philadelphia. An independent
company was started in Canada under Berliner’s patent. Camden
did not sell Canada at the start. Sold motor parts and sound boxes to
With Mr. Calvin
Child’s assistance, Mr. Johnson started to re-do the Berliner
catalog during the Fall of 1898.
About 25 matrixes in
1898—200 during 1899.
(2/11/99) Mr. Royal, now of
London, was prepared to set up the Gramophone Co. to use the Johnson
During 1899, Mr. Johnson made
— E. R. Johnson moved from 108 to 120 N. Front St., Camden.
The Gramophone Co. of London started to use the dog trade mark.
Berliner held that Seaman had forfeited his sales contract of 10/10/96.
May 5th —
Seaman accepted consent decree acknowledging American Gramophone
June — Berliner stopped selling to Seaman. They stopped doing
June 25th —
Seaman got an injunction preventing Berliner from selling to anyone
July — E. R. Johnson stopped shipping to Berliner.
August — Leon
F. Douglass joined Mr. Johnson.
September — E. R. Johnson started up for himself as The
Consolidated Talking Machine Co. using
the dog trade mark. Soon changed to Eldridge R. Johnson.
Metal plant in Camden. The office was in the Stephen Girard Bldg. in
Records were pressed by Duranoid, and the first sale was made under the
December — Started to use the trade mark
“Victor.” (p. 103)
dismissed July 6, 1901 until July 23, 1902.
From October, 1900 to October,
1901, F. R. Johnson made about $180,000 (about $52, 000 during August
and September of 1901).
Victor Talking Machine Co. was
incorporated 10/3/01 (organized 10/5/01). Paid $40,000 to Frank Seaman
Agreed to sell the Gramophone
Co. up to 50% of Victor’s plant capacity (They never used
more than 40%).
to press records in own plant in Camden (23 Market Street). License
plan adopted for instruments.
bought control of the Universal Talking Machine Mfg. Co., Inc.
(Zonophone) for $135,000. Taper arm and goose neck introduced during
Fall of 1903.
Factory was seriously damaged
by fire 4/24/04 ($45,500 loss).
Purchased Victor Dist.
& Export Co. (NYC).
Office moved to Commonwealth
Trust Bldg., 12th & Chestnut Sts., Philadelphia.
moved from Philadelphia to old Bldg. #3.
Purchased St. Louis Talking
Purchased The Talking Machine
First factory building rebuilt
horn machine introduced.
Leon Douglass retired. Louis
License System revised.
Victor bought 8,000 shares of
common from Berliner (Consolidated Talking Machine Co. of America) for
Fifth story added to first
four-story factory building.
Buildings #6 and #7
occupied—Matrix and Shipping Departments moved from
Offices moved to Bldg. #15
from Bldg. #3.
Recording Lab, moved to Bldg.
#15 from Philadelphia.
Matrix Plant moved to Bldg.
#15 from Bldg. #7.
First Cabinet Factory
Lumber yard set up at present
location buildings #11 and #24.
Label records introduced.
Equipment added to Power Plant.
Court sustained Berliner patent (534,543).
Patents, good will, matrixes,
etc., written down from $2,079,528.80 to $2.00. “Old Power
Plant” completed. Also #17-A.
year changed to calendar year (The company’s statement for
1910 covered 15 months). License system revised.
Three floors added to #15.
Recording Lab, and Matrix plant moved to two top floors. Second street
section #18 completed.
Copyright applied to records.
Clark’s school activity started.
Common stock increased from
$2,000,000 to $5,000,000. Important employees permitted to buy company
stock on favorable basis.
higher dividend policy inaugurated. Active building program started.
Berliner Patent 534,543
expired during February, 1912.
Buildings #6 & #7
enlarged. Printing Dept. which had been at 117 Federal and the Locke
Bldg. (corner Delaware and Cooper—present Bldg. #3) moved to
Bldg. #6. Continued until about 1933. Equipment added to Power Plant.
Five floors added to #4. Building #17-B completed.
Group Insurance started April
Pension Plan started May 15th.
Royalty” plan introduced August 1st.
Front Street section #18
completed. Six floor grinding plant completed.
property completed with large storage space for coal enabling company
to buy year’s supply. Best advantage water delivery.
Record material Mfg. Bldg.
Preferred stock called at $140.
Royalty” plan sustained by Circuit Court.
#1 completed. Also #17-C.
#2 and #5 completed. Also
#17-D and Dry Kiln completed.
Lumber yard moved from
Delaware Ave. and Cooper to State Street and River Road.
Supreme Court ruled against
the License Royalty plan. Victor immediately switched to conventional
plan of sales. Marked all list prices “Not binding on the
Bldg. #53 (warehouse)
completed—used to make war material.
War work: aircraft, shell
parts and assemblies, rifle stocks and parts, detonator cases, and
other war material.
All subsidiary companies sold.
Production curtailed; first to
70%, then 40% of 1917.
Mr. Geissler resigned. War
ended November, 1918.
luxury tax of 5% beyond the current 3% excise tax applied to talking
machine mfg. Normal production not reached until October. Company had
$200,000,000 in back orders.
Company paid nearly $4,000,000
in excise taxes.
Purchased half interest in
Gramophone Co. Ltd., London.
American Recording Co. established in Argentina.
Seal records introduced.
Buildings #8 and #10
completed. 20 acres purchased in Oakland, Calif. Building completed.
due to advent of mass-produced good-quality radio receivers and failure
to improve Talking Machine performance.
Purchased controlling interest
of the Berliner Gramophone Co. of Montreal. Name changed to Victor
Talking Machine Co. of Canada, Ltd.
of old line. Serious financial loss. Introduction of Orthophonic
Victrola, Electrola, Radio-Phonograph Combinations and Automatic Record
of previous year fully covered. Export volume 80% larger than any
previous year. Control of company purchased by a banking syndicate
N.Y. Talking Machine Co. and
Chicago Talking Machine Co. purchased.
additional interest in Canada. Also Southwestern Victor Distr. Co.,
Dallas: Calif. Victor Distr. Co., San Francisco: Northwest Victor
Distr. Co., Seattle; and Victor Talking Machine Co. of
Control of Victor passed to
Speyer & Co. and J & W Seligman of New York on January
remaining balance of Canada. Also sold 32% interest in Victor Talking
Machine Co. of Japan, Ltd. Purchased Baltimore Victor Distr. Co.
(Baltimore, Washington, Richmond). Also Victor Talking Machine Co. of
Brazil, and Victor Talking Machine Co. of Chile.
(previously served 60% by GE—40% by Westinghouse) acquired
control of Victor 3/15/29. Starting
4/25/29, Victor’s sales activities continued as the Victor
Division of the Radio-Victor Corp. operating parallel to the
“Radiola Division” with separate product lines.
Both divisions purchased from the Audio Vision Appliance Co., the name
tinder which General Electric and Westinghouse had reorganized the
Victor plant. (p. 105)
On January 1, 1930, the RCA Victor Company took over the Radio-Victor
Co.. Inc., the Audio Vision Appliance Co., and the remaining assets of
the Victor Talking Machine Co. The separate commercial departments
described above, were consolidated during the first half of 1931 with a
single, combined list of distributors (completed 4/2/31). The R-7 was
the first RCA Victor model announced (2/13/31). RCA Victor Co., Inc.
was absorbed by RCA Mfg. Co. on January 1. 1935. The RCA Mfg. Co. was
absorbed on January 1, 1942 by the RCA Victor Division.