Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Edison Blue Amberol Cylinder. ..1912-1929

Perhaps the finest pre war(WWI) records made were the Edison Blue Amberol Cylinders. As a form of recording they were unequaled. A constant speed recording, made onto a hard surface of celluloid. The speed of the cylinders were 160 RPM's, and they would play for 4 minutes. They were guaranteed to play for 3000 times without wear. A bit of an unrealistic claim. But they did last well and had acoustical qualities that are even today quite breath taking.

The example pictured here is a 1912 issue in a very vivid blue. The color of the records changed from batch to batch. But the quality was always the same...Amazing! Celluloid in its natural form was a kind of white color so the coloring was quite attractive. The records were quite popular and attracted a following.

However that all changed in late 1914 when the Blue Amberols started to be dubbed from Edison Diamond Disc Records. So while they still were nice, they were nothing like they had been before. They had become second generation acoustically re-recorded records.

Dealers who had originally embraced the new cylinders in 1912,had by 1915 started referring to them as "damnberolas"!!

In spite of this the cylinder continued to grow for Edison till 1920. Then the bottom fell out of the cylinder business. It never came back.

Thomas Edison continued to manufacture cylinders till 1929. It was always his favorite form of recording and the one he would always hold most dear. But it would loose popularity to the disc record. Because it was hard to produce and could never have side 2!
Therefore by 1920 the fortunes of the Edison phonograph and record company were in great difficulties and would by 1925 be loosing over a million dollars a year.

But in its brilliant inception in 1912 it was the best recording made.