Columbia Records has come a long way from its beginning at the end of the nineteenth century, although its product remains basically the same. From the 1880s to the present, the company has sold prerecorded sound. A music industry pioneer in both technology and content, Columbia Records continues operating as one of the four label groups of Sony Music Entertainment Inc. (SMEI), a global recording company. The other three label groups within SMEI are Epic Records Group, Sony Classical, and Relativity Entertainment Group.

Columbia Records originated in the late 1880s as the Columbia Graphophone Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. The original company was built upon the experiments of scientist Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester A. Bell. Bell, a cousin of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, was an engineer. In 1886 the two received a patent for a wax-coated cardboard cylinder on which sounds could be recorded. Their machine, the Graphophone, made its official debut in Washington, D.C., three years later.

In 1895, Columbia was already producing hundreds of cylinders a day. Columbia began selling disc records (invented and patented by Victor Talking Machine Company’s Emile Berliner) and phonographs in addition to the cylinder system in 1901. By 1914, Columbia had stopped producing cylinders and had become the Columbia Graphophone Company. The next technological advance came in 1948; Columbia released the 33 1/3 rpm long-playing record, which quickly became the industry standard for sound reproduction.

The relationship between Sony Corporation and Columbia Records dates back to 1968, when CBS, which then owned the Columbia label, joined with Sony in order to expedite its expansion into the Asian market. Twenty years later, Sony acquired the CBS Records Group. Sony Music Entertainment Inc., including the Sony division of which Columbia Records is a part, is a truly international recording company boasting more than 9,000 employees.

From 1961 to 1991, its recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI’s Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music’s four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.

According to; Source of photos: internet