A Brief Chronological History of EMI

1897 William Barry Owen, Director of the National Gramophone Company in New York, arrives in Britain to exploit the Berliner European gramophone patents. Resigning from the National Gramophone Company, he sets up business at the Hotel Cecil in London under the name The Gramophone Company.

1898 The Gramophone Company is officially registered by William Barry Owen and his partner/investor Trevor Williams, and moves from the Hotel Cecil to 31 Maiden Lane on May 16. Provisional arrangements are made to manufacture gramophones, records and to assemble machines in Germany. July 23: Fred Gaisberg, a young recording engineer and talent scout, previously working for Emile Berliner, leaves New York for London to join The Gramophone Company as its first recording engineer. August 2: Fred Gaisberg makes his first recordings in London at the Maiden Lane office. October: The famous 'Recording Angel' trademark, devised by Birnbaum, first appears on the Company's record labels.

1899 September 15: Francis Barraud's painting 'His Master's Voice' is purchased by The Gramophone Company Ltd. The picture is first used the following year on the Company's Record Supplement for January 1900.

1900 July: William Barry Owen visits America to arrange rights to manufacture the Lambert typewriter. December 10: The Gramophone Company Ltd transfers its business to a newly incorporated company, registered as The Gramophone & Typewriter Ltd. December 22: The 'His Master's Voice' picture is registered as a trademark in Britain.

1901 The Gramophone & Typewriter Ltd orders its first 10" diameter recording machine from E.R. Johnson in the USA. The 12" disc is added two years later.

1902 February: The G&T moves its headquarters from Maiden Lane to 21 City Road.

1904 The first Nellie Melba records are released. Fourteen single sided 12" discs with special mauve 'Melba' labels are issued, selling at 21/- (1.05) each.

1907 February 9: The tenor Edward Lloyd cuts the first sod from the field site for the Company's first factory at Hayes, Middlesex. Cost of the silver spade used by Mr Lloyd is 6.10/-, plus 15/- for the engraving (7.25 in total). The spade was later acquired by EMI in 1994 for 5,000! May 13: Madame (later Dame) Nellie Melba lays the foundation stone for the Power House at the Hayes factory site. November 18: The company drops the 'Typewriter' from its name and returns to being The Gramophone Company Ltd.

1908 June: The first record is pressed at the new Hayes factory. Commercial pressing commences in July.

1909 Winston Churchill records a speech for the 1909 Budget League as does Prime Minister H.H. Asquith and Chancellor Lloyd George. February: Nipper, the Gramophone Dog, makes his first appearance on British 'His Master's Voice' record labels. Madame (later Dame) Clara Butt promises to sing on a five-year contract upon payment of 1,000 and subject to a royalty of 2/-(10p) per 12" single sided record.

1910 June: A gramophone and records go with Captain Scott on his Antarctic Expedition. The gramophone was brought back to Britain and is now part of the EMI Archive.

1911 June: The head office of The Gramophone Company Ltd moves from City Road to Blyth Road, Hayes. July 20: Madame Tetrazzini lays the corner stone of the new cabinet factory at Hayes.

1912 June: A new recording studio is opened at the Blyth Road head office in Hayes. The office is allegedly forced to buy all the chickens in the neighborhood to prevent their cackling being picked up by the recording apparatus.

1921 July 20: The Gramophone Company's new retail premises in London's Oxford Street are opened by Sir Edward Elgar.

1924 April 23: The Gramophone Company records H.M. King George V's speech at the opening of the Wembley Exhibition. The recording was made by a semi-electrical process with the wireless loudspeaker connected by a short tube to the recording box.

1925 Electrical recording is introduced, using the Western Electric System. October 28: The Gramophone Company makes its first electrical recording of a church organ, using a telephone land line linked to the recording equipment.

1926 Columbia acquires the Parlophone record label.

1931 April 21: The Gramophone Company Ltd and The Columbia Graphophone Company Ltd merge and register a holding company - Electric and Musical Industries Ltd. Alfred Clark of The Gramophone Company becomes Chairman and Louis Sterling of Columbia becomes Managing Director. November 12: Sir Edward Elgar opens the new EMI Recording Studios at Abbey Road, St. John's Wood. December: Alan Blumlein, an electrical engineer at EMI's Central Research Laboratories, produces his master patent for binaural (stereo) recording and reproduction.

1944 July 7: A flying bomb hits the Hayes factory. The bomb falls very near the entrance to a surface shelter. Of the occupants and others, caught in the open, thirty-seven employees are killed and fifty-six injured.

1952 October: EMI launches its first 33rpm microgroove Long Playing records. At the same time, 7" 45rpm microgroove singles, both classical and pop, are also released.

1954 April: EMI launches its Mono Extended Play 7" 45rpm records.

1955 January 17: A contract is signed for EMI to purchase control of Capitol Records Inc.

1956 January: EMI makes its first UK releases on the Capitol Records label.

1958 August 9: Cliff Richard is signed to EMI. September: EMI launches stereo LP's.

1960 February 19: The last 78rpm record on EMI labels is issued in Britain - 'Rule Britannia' and 'Royal Event' by Russ Conway. June 20: EMI moves from Blyth Road and now operates from EMI House, 20 Manchester Square, London W1.

1962 March 23: EMI notifies the retail trade that all 78rpm records in their catalogue will be withdrawn after March 31, 1962. June 4: The Beatles sign their first contract with Parlophone and the single 'Love Me Do' is released in October.

1965 EMI forms Music For Pleasure with Paul Hamlyn of Hamlyn Publishing. EMI also starts the World Record Club.

1966 EMI releases its first pre-recorded cassettes.

1967 March: Pink Floyd sign to EMI.

1969 EMI commences its own UK manufacturing of pre-recorded cassettes.

1971 January 1: Electric & Musical Industries changes its name to EMI Ltd. "It is felt that such a change is appropriate for two reasons: first because our present name no longer reflects our wide span of activities and interests; and secondly, the initials EMI have become our primary means of identification throughout the world."

1972 November: Queen signs to EMI.

1973 The Gramophone Company changes its name to EMI Records Ltd.

1976 October: EMI Records sign an unknown group "offering some promise" - The Sex Pistols.

1978 January: Kate Bush releases her first single 'Wuthering Heights', having been signed to EMI since July 1976. EMI Records UK is honored with the Queen's Award For Export Achievement.

1979 February: EMI Ltd buys the United Artists Records Group. October 16: THORN Electrical Industries Limited makes an offer of 148m for EMI Ltd. November 6: The EMI Board recommends THORN's revised offer of 169m to its shareholders and a new company THORN EMI is formed. November 28: Iron Maiden signs to EMI.

1980 December 8: John Lennon is shot and killed in New York.

1982 December: Not having recorded for several years, Tina Turner signs to Capitol Records in the US.

1985 July: EMI Music announces a major investment in the mastering and manufacture of Compact Discs, utilizing the clean air facilities originally set up for videodisc. Production is to begin in early 1986.

1986 May 15: EMI opens its first-ever CD factory in Swindon.

1987 July: Colin Southgate is appointed Chief Executive of THORN EMI.

1988 May 2: Jim Fifield is appointed President and Chief Operating Officer of EMI Music Worldwide, based in New York. He is becomes President and Chief Executive Officer the following year.

1989 EMI Music purchases a 50% interest in Chrysalis Records. SBK Entertainment World Inc, music publishers, is purchased, adding over 250,000 titles to the existing catalogue. June 10: Cliff Richard releases 'The Best of Me' - his 100th single with EMI Records.

1991 November 24: Freddie Mercury dies of AIDS-related illness. December: EMI Music purchases the remaining 50% interest in Chrysalis Records.

1992 June: EMI Music acquires Richard Branson's Virgin Records.

1994 EMI Records UK is honored with the Queen's Award For Export Achievement for the second time.

1995 Rupert Perry is appointed Chairman of EMI Records Group UK & Ireland, and President and Chief Executive Officer of EMI Europe. He is succeeded as President and CEO of EMI Records Group UK & Ireland by Jean-Francois Cecillon.

1996 August 16: THORN EMI shareholders vote by a large majority in favor of the Demerger proposals. The new name, EMI Group plc, formally replaces THORN EMI on August 19 and continues to own its principal businesses - EMI Music and HMV.

1997 EMI celebrates its first Centenary.