Inspired by, but determined to improve upon Edison’s cylinder record, Emile Berliner developed a new way to record music during the 1880s. As opposed to Edison’s “hill and dale” method of recording (with the needle cutting the sound vibrations at an “up and down” groove"), Berliner decided that it was best to cut grooves at a “side to side” groove at a constant depth, which allowed for better sound quality. At the same time, a flat disc record was much easier to record onto AND mass produce. To mass produce cylinders using Edison’s method, one had to set up and record with many separate cylinder recording devices for one song. With Berliner’s method, a recording engineer would set up one machine, cut he sound vibrations into a lacquer disc, and copy the recording over to a master disc which could produce thousands of pressings. On the patents below from 1887 and 1895, the drawn, wavy lines are indicative of this “side to side” groove. Berliner constantly improved upon the design of the disc record, including the material of the finished disc and sound quality.
Emile Berliner needed help improving the quality of the disc record, and therefore he recruited the help of Camden machinist, Eldridge Johnson, who became fascinated with the concept of recording. Johnson ran with these concepts and developed improvements all the time with the production of disc records and players. He changed the way records were cut, moving from a lacquer to a wax disc. The wax disc was softer and easier to cut into while improving sound quality and removing a lot of surface noise.