RCAYears before RCA and the His Master’s Voice Dog, there was only Victor, as in Victor Talking Machine Company, which manufactured its first Victrola on this date in 1906, leaving us no option but celebrating


The Victor Talking Machine Company was the baby of Eldridge R. Johnson, a sound recording pioneer and businessman who enlisted Emil Berliner, inventor of the first mass-produced flat phonograph record.

Thomas Edison’s cylindrical phonograph had been around since 1877, but there was no way to mass produce the cylinders, so after years of complex legal battles and copyright infringement lawsuits, the Victrola was introduced to play the new disc-shaped records, and America started dancing.

Before you could say “cat’s pajamas” it was the Roaring Twenties and the record industry became more important than music publishers to the music business. For the first time in history, great musical artists like Enrico Caruso, Arturo Toscanini and Louis Armstrong could be captured on acetate and heard again and again on Berliner’s invention.

Soon Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, The Dorsey Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Rodgers and the songsmiths of Tin Pan Alley were recording and making musical history, and American popular music spread throughout the world.

As time went on, the Victrola was replaced by sleeker record players with better sound fidelity and variable speeds to accommodate different types of records; 78s, 33s and 45RPMs, either “singles” (45s) with one song on each side, or LPs (Long Play 33s), larger black platters that held multiple songs or extended pieces like symphonies and stage musicals.

Eventually the records themselves were replaced by 8 Track tapes, then cassette tapes, then CDs, and now digital downloads you cannot hold or see, played on machines that fit in your pocket. But it all began with the Victor Talking Machine Company and their wondrous new product, the Victrola.

*Suggested Activities: Music music music!

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