The Victor Talking Machine Company ► Monday Musical Appreciation
His Master’s Voice” is the name of the 1898 painting by
Francis Barraud, who discovered that Nipper would run to the
horn of the cylinder player whenever he played a recording of
his deceased brother, who had owned Nipper before he died.

On this day in 1901 former rivals Eldridge R. Johnson and Emile Berliner launched the Victor Talking Machine Company after some earlier legal wrestling over patents.

Berliner had invented the phonograph record and Johnson had been making Gramophones to play these discs. First they combined their patents to form the Consolidated Talking Machine Company before changing its name.

According to the WikiWackyWoo:

There are different accounts as to how the name came about. RCA historian Fred Barnum[3] gives various possible origins of the “Victor” name: in “His Master’s Voice” In America, he writes, “One story claims that Johnson considered his first improved Gramophone to be both a scientific and business ‘victory.’ A second account is that Johnson emerged as the ‘Victor’ from the lengthy and costly patent litigations involving Berliner and Frank Seaman’s Zonophone. A third story is that Johnson’s partner, Leon Douglass, derived the word from his wife’s name ‘Victoria.’ Finally, a fourth story is that Johnson took the name from the popular ‘Victor’ bicycle, which he had admired for its superior engineering. Of these four accounts the first two are the most generally accepted.”[4] Perhaps coincidentally, the first use of the Victor title on a letterhead, on March 28, 1901,[5] was only nine weeks after the death of British Queen Victoria.

Harry Nilsson, one of my favourite artists, signed with RCA in 1966.

In 1926 Johnson sold his shares to a bank, which flipped the stock 3 years later to the Radio Corporation of America, which is how the company became known as RCA Victor.

The Wiki also details how many companies we know of today were spun out of the original 1901 Victor founding:

Victor and its executives became extremely wealthy by the 1920s and in doing so were able to establish markets outside of the original Camden, NJ base of operations. Having established a hand-shake agreement with Emile Berliner in forming Victor Talking Machine Co, Berliner was sent from the U.S to manage the remaining holdings of the Gramophone Co. (a company in which Victor owned a significant portion in part due to patent pooling agreements, and Victor’s success in its first two decades). Eventually, this meant that Victor (in addition to owning studios, offices, and plants in Camden, New York City, California, South America) also owned controlling interests in the Gramophone Company of Canada and England, as well as the Deutsche Gramophone Co. in Europe. Soon, Victor formed the Victor Company of Japan (JVC), founded in 1927. As Radio Corporation of America acquired Victor, the Gramophone Co. in England became EMI giving RCA a controlling interest in Victor, JVC, Columbia (UK), and EMI. During World War II, JVC severed its ties to RCA and today remains one of the oldest and most successful Japanese record labels as well as an electronics giant. Meanwhile, RCA sold its remaining shares in EMI during this time. Today the “His Master’s Voice” trademark in music is split amongst several companies including JVC (in Japan), HMV (in the UK), and RCA (in the US).

Any excuse to play Harry Nilsson:

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.