THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
The Library of Congress THE LOC.GOV WISE GUIDE
AD HIGHLIGHTS
ARCHIVES
ABOUT THIS SITE
HELP
January2007
HOME The Mortimer Mouse Club Murder at the Library of Congress What Does RSS Stand For? And the Kluge Prize Goes To … And the Blind Shall Read “The Leonardo of the Comic Book” What's This Dog Doing with His Nose in a Cone? Why, He's Listening to His Master's Voice.
What's This Dog Doing with His Nose in a Cone? Why, He's Listening to His Master's Voice.

During the 1880s, Emile Berliner in Washington, D.C., began to take a great interest in the future of sound recording and reproduction. At the time, recordings were available on wax cylinders. He soon realized that a wax cylinder was inadequate for several reasons, including the fact that it wasn't very durable.

Berliner's patent for the gramophone, November 8, 1887 Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Nipper

After several experiments, Berliner turned to the more stable zinc to create a disc with grooves for reproducing sound. He called his invention for playing the discs a "gramophone," and he received a patent for it on Nov. 8, 1887. In the following years, Berliner continued to perfect his discs and playback machine.

In 1899, Berliner visited the London offices of the Berliner Gramophone Company. There, he noticed a painting hanging on the wall of a small dog with cocked head posed in front of a gramophone. The little terrier was listening to his master's voice coming from the horn. The English artist Francis Barraud, using his own little dog Nipper as the model, painted the image. Berliner contacted Barraud and asked him to make a copy. Berliner brought the copy back to the United States and immediately sought a trademark for the painting. The trademark was granted by the Patent Office on July 10, 1900, too late for Berliner to use it, as his company by this time was little more than a name. However, he passed it on to Eldridge R. Johnson, with whom Berliner had worked on improving the playback machine. Johnson began to print it on his Victor record catalogs and then on the paper labels of the discs. Soon, "His Master's Voice" became one of the best-known trademarks in the world, still in use today.

Learn the full story of the birth of the recording industry in the Special Presentation "Emile Berliner: Inventor of the Gramophone."


A. Berliner's patent for the gramophone, November 8, 1887 Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division

B. Nipper