Phonograph recordings started to come about in the early twentieth century. Vinyl allowed people to listen to the music they would have to travel to go and see otherwise. Composers would create compositions that would be of reasonable length for these recordings because vinyl has a limited amount of space it can hold recordings.
Columbia Records was an innovator because it saw the payoff the early recording industry would have. Orchestras like the LSO (London Symphony Orchestra) would sign up with these early record companies to record compositions for mass reproduction.
Thomas Edison's initial phonograph was to be made from tin foil (1877). Tin foil is a flimsy material and caused playback of recordings to be inconsistent. Edison and the Volta Laboratory team (Chichester A. Bell and Charles Summer Tainter) were in competition with each other to improve the design. Wax (shellac) cylinders were the solutions announced by both sides. These wax cylinders could be played from slot machines at arcades, diners and other indoor function areas.
Emile Berliner was the man behind the reproduction of the modern. There was a design called the phonoautograph (1850s) which would visually record the vibrations given off by the person speaking into the device. In the pre-microphone age, the vibrations from the voice were captured by speaking or making a sound into a large megaphone. At the other end of the megaphone would be a thin diaphragm that vibrated and make tiny tracks in the blackened glass. At the time this device was used people didn't know that if the tiny tracks could be fixed onto a material and that a stylus was to repass through them, the sound could be played back through a megaphone (with a few minor touches here and there to make it possible).
Berliner saw the opportunity and worked with the phonoautograph device. Instead of glass he used a zinc disc coated with beeswax and cold gasoline. The recording was etched into the coating and the disc...