Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Last acoustic Edison Diamond Disc Machines. The Edisonics. Here is the Schubert model of 1928

The Edison Edisonic was the last of a breed of hill and dale disc phonographs to play Edison Diamond Disc Records which by the time this catalog was published in 1928 were not selling at all well.

One of the main problems was that there was a stigma to Edison records and what was on them. It all went back to the earliest days of the Edison disc industry in 1912. Thomas Edison had for many years been in charge of picking the music for his company. While it can be agreed that it was "his" company, it was a terrible move and led to its ruin.
By 1926 Charles Edison had finally removed his father from control more or less. But the damage was done and by this time they were loosing over a million dollars a year.
The electrical system of recording and acoustic playback had been developed by Bell Labs/Western Electric and marketed by the Victor Talking Machine Company in it's Victrolas and records.
However, records only by the Columbia Graphophone Company, as the rights to the folded horn technology for acoustic playback of electrical recording were controlled by the Victor Company.
This had happened in the end of 1924. Victor and Columbia in 1925 started issuing electrically recorded discs in 1925. By November Victor issued it's new machines. They were called Orthophonic Victrolas. They were a smash.

Thomas Edison had little love for the Orthophonics. By this time in his life he could hardly hear anyway. Walter Miller, his assistant said that the Orthophonic sounded like music coming out of a Rain Barrel. I guess he said that to keep his boss happy. But it was one wonderful rain barrel.
But once Thomas Edison was out of the way, the company went to work on developing a system of electrically recorded discs. This was under the control of his son Theodore Edison.
What ended up happening was they purchased RCA microphones and amplifier equipment to make the electrically recorded Edison records as crazy as that sounds!

But once they had developed the system they needed machines to play these discs. As most of the lineup of machines for the Edison Company were from the 1915 era. That meant some serious revamping. But money was very tight.

The end result was 2 machines issued in 1927 to play the new records. They were called the Edisonic, to copy the popular Orthophonic of the Victor Company. The workings of these new machines were designed by Theodore Edison and would encompass a new type of reproducer and the longest horn ever put on a Diamond Disc Machine.

It was to add to the bass response and was as close as the Edison company could come to making a horn responsive to electrical recordings with out stepping on Victor's patents.

The Machines were called the Schubert and Beethoven. They were handsome machines but never really took of. Hence today, they are quite rare. But they did play wonderfully.
They were truly the last gasp of the acoustic Diamond Disc phonograph. One must remember by the time these machines came out Victor, Brunswick, and a few other companies had electrically powered and amplified machines.

These machines were produced from 1927 till the end of the company in late 1929. However they could still be purchased in early 1930 as well as leftover records from the company.

A 1928 Edison Edisonic Schubert

The inside of the machine. Showing the gun metal reproducer and the orange/peach turntable and felt cushions

The doors open to show the horn grill and cloth and storage for records. Both the Beethoven and Schubert used the same sized horns. Just there was a difference in the size of the cabinet. I have always been partial to the Schubert as I feel it was a better designed machine.

The grill removed and the horn of the Edisonic revealed. It was a good sized horn. The machine was usually equipped with a single spring. However many people opted to have a double spring put in. As you can see on this model.

Note the long extension of the horn designed by Theodore Edison to make the most of the mathematical properties in bass response. It has great sound and is most amazing to see in operation.

Here you will see an advertising piece for the Edisonic in 1927. Although Thomas Edison had nothing to do with this machine. It was always good press to use his name. Stigma or not, he was a god to many.

The sad part of it all was the Victor Orthophonic was the king of the industry. The Edison Company tried some radios and electric phonographs. But it was too late. Riddled in debt and mismanagement the phonograph company was quietly discontinued in 1929. Sadly few even noticed.