1923: Ortofon behind breakthrough in sound films

October 12, 1923 Axel Petersen (1887-1971) and Arnold Poulsen (1889-1952) successfully demonstrated for the public the first sound film recorded indoors. In essence, it was the first synchronized sound movie in the world, running a 23 minutes long movie in three scenes including actor performances and musical events. It took place at the Palace Theatre, Copenhagen. With this, the System Petersen & Poulsen, was born and had a great impact on sound movies in the late 1920’es and thirties, especially in many European countries. System Petersen and Poulsen was even adopted by the largest American film productions in the late 1920’es. Hollywood, with its sense of own dominance considers the film, “the jazz singer” introduced four years later in 1927 as the world’s first sound movie, employing a US based technology solution.

1923 - Ortofon

Alex Petersen and Arnold Poulsen at the Palace Cinema Theater in Copenhagen, October 1923.


Several of the System Petersen and Poulsen cameras and recording heads constructed then for cinema projectors, were still employed as late as 1968.

The company of Petersen and Poulsen, Electrical Fono Film Company, Ltd., had been founded October 9,1918. In 1946 the old name of the company was changed to PhonoFilm Industry . Ltd. and in 1951 Ortofon A/S was founded as a trading company under PhonoFilm Industry, ltd. umbrella.

Ortofon started making cutter heads for record manufacturing companies in 1945 and they became adopted by companies all over the world. In 1946 the company developed the first mono cutterhead for the gramophone industry. The cutterhead was revolutionary because the level of registration of the oscillations was raised from 5 kHz to 14 kHz.

From being a development laboratory for tone films (the Petersen & Poulsen System) Ortofon became an important force in fostering the gramophone industry,  among other things by developing a Moving Coil cutter head for mono cartridges which was followed by various models of mono as well as stereo cutter heads. Still to this day, the company is the leading supplier for high-end gramophone pic-ups worldwide.

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