Emile Berliner was born in Hanover, Germany, on May 20, 1851, and was the thirteenth child born to Samuel and Sarah Fridman Berliner. His father was a Jewish merchant, and his mother was an amateur musician. As a boy he apprenticed to become a merchant as his father was, though inventing things was what interested him most.
In 1870, to avoid being drafted, Berliner left Germany, and moved to the United States. At first he worked in a shop owned by a friend of his father. He soon moved to New York where he took an interest in the new audio technology of the Alexander Graham Bell's telephone and Thomas Alva Edison's phonograph. His interest in these devices led him to invent an improved telephone transmitter, which used one of the first microphones in its design. The patent was acquired by Bell Telephone Company, though later declared void. As a result Berliner moved to Boston in 1877 to work for Bell Telephone. He stayed there until 1883, when he decided set out on his own to become a private researcher.
In 1886, still very interested in audio devices, Berliner began experimenting with sound recording. His most significant contribution to the world came in 1877, when he was granted his first patent for his "gramophone". The first gramophones attracted the interest of several toy companies. However, he hoped that his gramophone would be seen as more that a toy, so he invited businessmen to provide $25,000 with his to create the Berliner Gramophone Company. In 1898 Berliner also launched Deutsche Grammophon to produce his recorded disks. It is also the oldest surviving record company in the world.
Berliner's other inventions include a new type of loom used to mass-produce fabric, an acoustic tile, and an early version of the modern day helicopter.
Emile Berliner died at the age of 78. He left the world with invaluable developments in communications, acoustics, and aeronautics.