| the invention of vinyl [in the beginning...]
1888 a gentlemen named Emile Berliner invented the flat disc record.
These very first discs were produced of a vulcanised rubber and
were between 12.5cm and 18cm in diameter.
ater he discovered that a mixture of shellac (a secretion
from the lac beetle) and slate dust produced an extremely hard wearing
but very brittle surface and from this the 78rpm disc was developed.
The slate dust was used because the older acoustic gramophones used
steel needles with a pick-up weight of up to 200 grams and the slate
helped grind the needle to fit the groove more closely. A modern
record pick-up tracks at a recommended maximum of 7 grams. Most
record players today can pick up a track at under 1 gram.
etween 1900 and 1960 the discs were usually 25 or 30cm across
& gave between 2 and 5 minutes playing time each side. In the
beginning sound was recorded with a horn attached to a diaphragm
and stylus, which scratched out a trace in a rotating wax disc.
This method lasted until 1925, when microphones became sufficiently
developed to allow the recording of music.
uring the Second World War records were sent from the USA
to overseas POW camps to keep up prisoner morale. Due to their brittleness
these were frequently broken in transit, so a new compound, vinyl,
was born to give greater flexibility and reduce the likelihood of
breakages. During the war years vinyl was a very expensive material
but the special circumstances of war justified it's use.
y 1948, Columbia Records had developed its 30cm Long Playing
record, rotating at 33rpm and giving about 20-30 minutes a side
which saw the downfall of shellac and vinyl was used from then on.
Long-playing phonograph records may look the same now as when they
were introduced in 1948, but countless refinements and developments
within the industry have been made to perfect the long-playing record's
technical excellence and insure the best in sound reproduction and
quality available in recorded form.
year later the first 45rpm disc was produced by RCA, 18cm
in diameter and giving about 3 minutes a side. No better than the
78 for playing time, but ideal for pop record companies and juke
box manufacturers! The 45 was light, compact, sounded much better
than the 78 and was less prone to getting broken. 1958 saw the arrival
of stereo records although unsuccesful experiments with two channel
sound had been going on since before the First World War. This pleased
those first "collectors" but irritated the retailers who
had to keep dual stocks of LPs in mono and stereo and of course,
the record companies had to prepare separate mono and stereo mixed
versions of the LPs to start with. Stereo was generally only used
for LPs up until about 1970, when pop singles began to appear in
stereo versions so by this time the mono LP became a thing of the
n the late 1950s some companies experimented with a 16rpm
speed originally intended for 'talking books' but was also used
for music LPs in Eastern Europe and Africa. An American company
also produced an 8rpm discs in the early 1970s for talking books
for the blind. The 30cm disc rotating at 45rpm made it's first appearance
in 1975 and makes the most of the best features of the 33 and 45rpm
formats by offering a reasonable playing time (up to 12 mins/side)
at a greatly enhanced volume and frequency response. EMI produceed
a short run of classical LPs on this format in the early 1980s.
espite the devastation caused to vinyl sales by the rapid
rise in popularity of the CD, the format still thrives among keen
record collectors and club disc jockeys.