CBS Records

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Columbia Records is one of the "Big Four" record companies. It was originally a retailer of Edison records and phonographs but soon became independent. One of Columbia's early ventures was owning (albeit for a few months in 1927) a small radio network named United Independent Broadcasters, later renamed "Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System". When the company sold the network to William Paley in late 1927, the name was shortened to "Columbia Broadcasting System" (CBS).

After merging with England's Gramophone Company, Ltd. to create EMI, they were forced to sell Columbia's US division to the American Recording Corporation (ARC). In 1938, CBS bought ARC, and almost immediately revived the "Columbia Records" name. This then meant that two different companies (CBS and EMI) used the same trademark, a situation that would exist for over 50 years. This, in turn, meant that EMI could not use the "Columbia" name outside of Europe while CBS could not use the name outside of North America. Originally, EMI distributed CBS/Columbia product in Europe, but switched to Philips in ther 1950's. Eventually, CBS began its own European operations, using the famous "walking eye" logo along with the "CBS" name.

When Sony purchased CBS Records in 1988, they retired the CBS Records label but purchased EMI's rights to the Columbia name. In December 2006, the CBS Corporation announced the reactivation of the CBS Records label, with the famed CBS eye as its logo.

In FZ lore, CBS distributed Zappa product beginning in 1979 outside North America but by 1981 CBS was FZ's worldwide distributor. By 1984, FZ moved his post-Warner Catalog to EMI, which promptly reissued the albums.

In the US, CBS was the first distributor for Barking Pumpkin Records. Outside the US, FZ's albums and singles appeared on the CBS label, with Canada opting to use CBS' Epic label, the only country to do so.