Edison Diamond Disc Phonograph
To Download Sound Fies
Half cabinet upright
Introduction: June 1915
Dimensions: Height 44 1/4 in
Width 19 1/2 in
Depth 201/4 in.
Cabinet: Straight turned legs with casters.
Finished in mahogany or oak golden weathered or fumed. In April-May 1918 an unspecified
number of cherrywood cabinets were made. English brown mahogany From March 1918. Metal
parts were nickel-plated
Introduction $150 in October
then $160 from January 1918 to $175 September of 1918
Cylinders peaked in popularity around 1905. After this, discs
and disc players, most notably the Victrolas, began to dominate the market. Columbia
Records, an Edison competitor, had stopped marketing cylinders in 1912. The Edison Company
had been fully devoted to cylinder phonographs, but, concerned with discs' rising
popularity, Edison associates began developing their own disc player and discs in secret.
Dr. Jonas Aylsworth, chief chemist for Edison, and later after his retirement in 1903, a
consultant for the company, took charge of developing a plastic material for the discs.
The aim was to produce a superior-sounding disc that would outperform the rivals' shellac
records, which were prone to wear and warping. Another difference from competitors' discs
was that the vertical-cut method was to be used for the grooves. In this manner, the
stylus would bob up and down in the groove, rather than from side to side or laterally.
Ten-inch records would run for 5 minutes per side at approximately 80 r.p.m.
Although Edison associates initially worked on the project in secret, when Edison
discovered it, he took control of this new project and gave it much of his personal
Aylsworth molded phenol and formaldehyde mixed with wood-flour and a solvent into a
heat-resistant disc. This material always remained absolutely plane (flat), which was
essential as it formed the core of the disc record. A phenolic resin varnish called
Condensite was applied to the core, and then the disc was stamped in the record press. The
finished 10" disc weighed ten ounces, heavier than most, partially due to the
1/4" thickness of the record. A diamond point was obtained for the stylus. The Disc
Phonograph and the Edison Discs were designed to be an entire system, incompatible with
other discs or disc players.
By the end of 1912, three basic models of the Edison Disc Phonograph had been
designed, ranging in price from $150 to $250, and the company salesmen took them around
the country. Prices for the discs ranged from $1.15 to $4.25, but later were changed to
$1.35 to $2.25. The discs were expensive to make because of the complicated chemical
processes used for them.
Initial public reaction was not encouraging for several reasons. The Edison
cabinets were deemed to be less attractive than the Victrolas, and customers were required
to buy Edison discs only for Edison players, since they were not compatible with other
players. The laminated surface of the discs also had a tendency to detach from the core
material, and surface noise was frequently apparent, which contradicted the aim of
perfection that the company was trying to achieve with its recordings. Still, the
phonographs and discs were touted as being acoustically better than those of the
competitors. In order to bolster claims of superiority, Edison claimed that his records
could be played 1,000 times without wear.
Recitals were also conducted to prove the merit of the discs. Edison recording
artists would sing along with a disc recording of their voices, daring the audience to be
able to tell the difference. In late 1915, Edison began its famous Tone Tests, which
featured artists alternating their live performance on a darkened stage with that on the
disc in front of large audiences, challenging them to detect a difference. Reaction was
positive to these tests, and reinforced the Edison motto that the discs were
"re-creations" of performances, not merely recordings of them.
Three weeks after the fire at the Edison Works, a long look was taken at the disc
phonograph range and it was considered a matter of urgency to design new styles for the
150 and some other models.
During the designing stage it had not been realized that there was not sufficient
horn clearance to play 12 inch records, if ever they were needed, and in August 1915 the
cabinet had to be Cut slightly, a peculiarity not confined to this model
In 1917 when the U.S. became involved in World War I, the Edison Company created
the Army and Navy Model in answer to a request for machines from the United States Army
Depot Quartermaster in New York. The simple, basic machine sold for $60. The Department of
War never purchased any, but individual units bought them, some taking them overseas. The
Army and Navy Model were discontinued after the war's end.
Its popularity grew in 1917, becoming second-best seller to the C-250 Chippendale
Model, which it overtook briefly. With an apparently popular model on its books, it is
difficult on the evidence to understand why in April 1918 the decision was taken to
improve the C-150 to make it practically a new model", but with the end in sight of
the war in Europe. the Edison Company was anxious to market an entirely fresh-looking
range as soon as normal conditions returned
With the war over by the end of the year. it was decided to make the S 145 sample a
Hepplewhite style in the place of the C-150. and this was unveiled to the trade in March
1919 as the H-19 Hepplewhite Model. The "195" became the S-19 Sheraton Model.
A total of 18,000 C-150s had been assembled during 1918 and numbers of them
lingered on alongside the new H-19, but just about all had been cleared by the end of the
year, as they have no mention in 1920. An electric motored C-150 is noticed in November
Edison Diamond Disc Records
Edison Diamond Disc Records differ from other disc records in several important
particulars. When compositions are long enough, the ten-inch records have a playing length
of five minutes, or fifty percent more than others of the same size. A ten-inch Edison
Record will play longer than most twelve-inch records of other makes.
Edison made Diamond Discs in ten-inch and twelve-inch sizes; but, owing to the
unusual playing length of the ten-inch record, it will only be necessary to make
twelve-inch records of compositions of extra length.