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Columbia Records

Columbia Records is the oldest continually used brand name in recorded sound, dating back to 1888.

Columbia was originally the local company distributing and selling Edison phonographs and phonograph cylinders in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Delaware. As was the custom of some of the regional phonograph companies, Columbia produced many commercial cylinder recordings of its own. Columbia severed its ties to Edison and the North American Phonograph Company[?] in 1893, and thereafter sold only records and phonographs of their own manufacture.

Columbia began selling disc records and phonographs in addition to the cylinder system in 1901. For a decade Columbia competed with both the Edison Phonograph Company cylinders and the Victor Talking Machine Company disc records as one of the top three names in recorded sound.

In 1908 Columbia introduced mass production of "Double Sided" disc records, with recordings stamped into both sides of the disc.


Label of a Columbia disc from 1925
More information about this record
In July of 1912 Columbia decided to concentrate exclusively on disc records, and stopped recording new cylinder records and manufacturing cylinder phonographs, although they continued pressing and selling cylinder records from their back catalogue for a year or two more.

In early 1925 Columbia began recording with the new electric recording process licenced from Western Electric. In a secret agreement with Victor, both companies did not make the new recording technology public knowledge for some months, in order not to hurt sales of their existing acoustically recorded catalogue while a new electrically recorded catalogue was being built.

The Columbia label was bought by Columbia Broadcasting System in 1938 for US$ 700,000.

In 1948 Columbia introduced the Long Playing Record LP (sometimes in early advertisements Lp) format, rotating at 33 & 1/3 rotations per minute, which became the standard for the analogue disc record for half a century.

Since 1988 Columbia Records has been owned by Sony, who re-christened this division Sony Music Entertainment, although they continue to issue records under the Columbia brand name.

See also: List of other record labels

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