While Edison’s company was producing the cylinder records, the first in 1887. Berliner Gramophone was the first company to produce disc “flat records” by Emile Berliner in 1889 and sold in Europe. These records were only five inches in diameter and were leased to toy companies that made toy phonographs.
In 1893, Berliner commercialize the record. His company offered the first 7 inch disc in 1894 on the Berliner Gramophone label. From there on, many companies took on the flat disc as the standard record to use for their phonographs. Edison, on the other hand, kept his cylinder records in production for many years thereafter.
Edison would patent his "Diamond Disc", a vertical cut flat disc record. This record was not playable on machines other than his own brand. Diamond Discs are easy to recognize. They're about 1/4 inch thick, 10 inches in diameter and usually have Edison's Face embossed or printed on a paper label. See below.
Edison later produced his own Needle Cut 78rpm record discs to compete with Victor and others, but by this time, his company lost a huge share of the market.
There were literally hundreds of record companies, producing flat disc and cylinders, during the phonograph industry boom. Some of the more successful labels of the time were Victor and Columbia. With the race to sign new artists their label, many small companies were developed. Most smaller companies eventually went out of business or were bought up by larger record companies. Victor was one of the first to see the importance in assigning contracts with musical artists, making them exclusive to the record label.
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