Columbia Records

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

Label of a Columbia disc from
Label of a Columbia disc from 1925

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.

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 licensed 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.

In 1931, the English Columbia Graphophone Company merged with the Gramophone Company to form Electric & Musical Industries Ltd. (EMI). EMI was forced to sell its American Columbia operations because of anti-trust concerns to the American Record Corporation (ARC).

ARC, including the Columbia label in the USA, was bought by Columbia Broadcasting System in 1938 for US$ 700,000. CBS was originally co-founded by Columbia Records. The Columbia trademark from this point until the late 1950s was two overlapping circles with the "Magic Notes" in the left circle and a CBS microphone in the right circle.

In 1948 Columbia introduced the Long Playing microgroove (LP) record (sometimes in early advertisements Lp) format, rotating at 33⅓ revolutions per minute, which became the standard for the gramophone record for half a century. In 1951, CBS severed its decades long distribution arrangement with EMI and signed a distribution deal with Philips Records outside North America. In 1955, Columbia USA introduced its "Walking Eye" logo which actually depicts a needle (the legs) on a record (the eye). The logo was modified in 1960 to the familiar one still used today and replaced the notes and mike logo. In 1961, CBS ended its arrangement with Philips Records and formed its own international organization, CBS Records which released Columbia recordings outside the USA and Canada on the CBS label. Columbia distributed Ode Records between 1967-1969 and between 1976-1978.

In 1988 Columbia/CBS Records was acquired by Sony, who re-christened the parent division Sony Music Entertainment. As Sony only had a temporary license on the CBS Records name, it then acquired from EMI its former rights to the Columbia trademarks outside the U.S., Canada and Japan (Columbia Graphophone), which generally had not been used by EMI since the 1960's.

Sony merged its music division with Bertelsmann AG's BMG unit in 2004; the combined company, Sony BMG, continues to use the Columbia Records name and Walking Eye logo in all markets except Japan (where that division is called Sony Records and is still fully owned by Sony). In Japan, the trademark ("Magic Notes") is still held by the former Nippon Columbia, now called Columbia Music Entertainment. Sony Music uses a modified version of the "Magic Notes" trademark for the logo of its Sony Classical label.

Columbia artists

A partial listing of famous artists who have recorded for Columbia includes:

See also

External link

ja:コロムビア・レコード pl:Columbia Records


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