Columbia Records is the oldest brand name in recorded sound. Founded in January 1889 in Washington DC as the [l=Columbia Graphophone Company] by Edward D. Easton, the company first sold phonograph cylinders and later disc records.
It opened a British operation shortly afterwards. This was sold in 1918 to its own management, and then the independent [l=Columbia Graphophone Company Ltd.] itself purchased its almost bankrupt former parent in 1925. This was then merged with [l=The Gramophone Co. Ltd.], which had been set up in the UK in 1896. This company was renamed Electrical And Musical Industries Ltd. (EMI) in 1931. US anti-trust laws forced the UK company to divest itself of its US operations that year.
The label was introduced in Japan in 1931 by the Nippon Phonograph Co. (also known as Nipponophone Co., Ltd.) which was a subsidiary of Electric and Musical Industries Ltd. In 1935 EMI sold its stake in Nipponophone, but Nipponophone kept ownership of the Columbia brand for Japan. After World War II, the label became part of [l=Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd.]
For the next few decades the Columbia label was exclusively an EMI label outside North America, Japan, and Spain, where the rights were owned by a company unrelated to EMI, [l=Discos Columbia, S.A.] (it was eventually sold to BMG Spain through RCA). In the US and Canada, Columbia was owned by [l=CBS Inc.] In 1973 EMI merged most of its labels into EMI and no longer released pop or rock acts on the label in much of the world (although it remained in use in parts of Asia and for non-pop releases).
In 1981 EMI officially put the Columbia trademark up for sale. The [l=Sony Corporation] eventually bought the trademark after it had acquired CBS' recorded music operations in 1988. In Spain, Sony managed to acquire the rights from BMG around 1996/1997. However, since in Japan the trademark was not owned by an EMI affiliate, Sony was not able to acquire it for that market. This is why Sony can't use the Columbia brand in Japan, where the label was operated by Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd. until 2002. Since 2002 it has been owned by [l=Columbia Music Entertainment, Inc.]
WARNING: Codes with the following prefixes should not be entered as catalogue number: XSS, ZSS, AL, BL. These codes are matrix numbers unique for each side of a vinyl release and should be entered in the Barcode and Other Identifiers section. The actual catalogue number is usually printed above the matrix number.
European releases in the 1980's until the late 1990's often had supplimentary or full catalogue numbers printed on the release in the following format:
xx-xxxxxx-xx (e.g.: 01-497424-10 in addition to short catalogue number 497424). it is assumed that the prefix refers to the country of release, the main number is the short catalogue number, normally found elsewhere on the release and the suffix relates directly to the format of the item in question.
However there is one exception. The "08" prefix relates specifically to releases manufactured at [l371466] and later inherited by [l267164] for a short while. These are not distribution codes or catalogue numbers and should only be entered as sequential numbers belonging to the manufacturer of the release.
Label code: LC 0162