Description: A general discription of the gramaphone record. Documented 2010.

Known For: Long playing records – EG – “33 r.p.m.”, “45”, “78”, etc.


Other Links: See below:



Gramophone record

A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record in American English, vinyl record (when made of polyvinyl chloride), or simply record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove.

The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc.

Phonograph records are generally described by their size (“12-inch”, “10-inch”, “7-inch”, etc.)

The rotational speed at which they are played (“33 r.p.m.”, “45”, “78”, etc.), their time capacity (“Long Playing”), their reproductive accuracy, or “fidelity”, or the number of channels of audio provided (“Mono”, “Stereo”, “Quadraphonic”, etc.).

Gramophone records were the primary medium used for commercial music reproduction for most of the 20th century, replacing the phonograph cylinder, with which they had co-existed, by the 1920s.

By the late 1980s, digital media had gained a larger market share, and the vinyl record left the mainstream in 1991.

However, they continue to be manufactured and sold in the 21st century. The vinyl record regained popularity by 2008, with nearly 2.9 million units shipped that year, the most in any year since 1998.

They are used predominantly by young adults, as well as DJs and audiophiles for many types of music.

As of 2010, vinyl records continue to be used for distribution of independent and alternative music artists.

More mainstream pop releases tend to be mostly sold in compact disc or other digital formats, but have still been released in vinyl in certain instances.

Early history:

Edison cylinder phonograph ca. 1899A device utilizing a vibrating pen to graphically represent sound on discs of paper, without the idea of playing it back in any manner, was built by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville of France in 1857.

In 1877, Thomas Edison developed the phonautograph into a machine, the phonograph, that was capable of replaying the recordings made.

The recordings were made on tinfoil, and were initially intended to be used as a voice recording medium, typically for office dictation.

This phonograph cylinder dominated the recorded sound market beginning in the 1880s.

Lateral-cut disc records were invented by Emile Berliner in 1888 and were used exclusively in toys until 1894, when Berliner began marketing disc records under the Berliner Gramophone label.

Berliner’s records had poor sound quality; however, work by Eldridge R. Johnson improved the fidelity to a point where they were as good as cylinders. Johnson’s and Berliner’s separate companies merged to form the Victor Talking Machine Company, whose products would come to dominate the market for many years later.

In an attempt to head off the disc advantage, Edison introduced the Amberol cylinder in 1909, with a maximum playing time of 4½ minutes (at 160 rpm) to be in turn superseded by the Blue Amberol Record whose playing surface was made of Celluloid.

Edison ceased production of cylinders in 1929. Disc records would dominate the market until they were supplanted by the Compact Disc, starting from the early 1980s.

By 1925, the speed of the record became standardised at a nominal value of 78 rpm.

“Electrical” recording:

Electrical recording preceded electrical home reproduction (much as digital recording preceded digital home reproduction), because of the initial high cost of the electronics.

In 1925, the Victor company introduced the groundbreaking Victor Orthophonic Victrola, an acoustical record player that was specifically designed to play electrically recorded discs.

78 rpm materials:

Early disc records were made of various materials including hard rubber. From 1897 onwards, earlier materials were largely replaced by a rather brittle formula of 25% shellac, a filler of a cotton compound similar to manila paper, powdered slate, and a small amount of a wax lubricant.

The mass production of shellac records began in 1898 in Hanover, Germany, and continued until the end of the 78 rpm format in the late 1950s. “Unbreakable” records, usually of celluloid on a pasteboard base, were made from 1904 onwards.

Vinyl was first tried out as a 78 rpm material in 1939, as a cigarette radio commercial mailed to stations, as vinyl was less breakable in the mail. On the record, mention is made of the Lucky Strike exhibit at the 1939 NY World’s Fair.

Decca introduced vinyl “Deccalite” 78s after the Second World War.

78 rpm recording time:
The playing time of a phonograph record depended on the turntable speed and the groove spacing. At the beginning of the 20th century, the early discs played for two minutes, the same as early cylinder records.

By 1938, when Milt Gabler started recording on January 17 for his new label, Commodore Records, to allow longer continuous performances, he recorded some 12″ records.

An obvious workaround for longer recordings was to release a set of records. The first multi-record release was in 1903, when HMV in England made the first complete recording of an opera.

In the 78 era, classical-music and spoken-word items generally were released on the longer 12″ 78s, about 4–5 minutes per side.

Such 78 rpm records were usually sold separately, in brown paper or cardboard sleeves that were sometimes plain and sometimes printed to show the producer or the retailer’s name.

Both the microgroove LP 33⅓ rpm record and the 45 rpm single records are made from vinyl plastic that is flexible and unbreakable in normal use. However, the vinyl records are easier to scratch or gouge, and much more prone to warping.

In 1931, RCA Victor (which evolved from the Johnson and Berliner’s Victor Talking Machine Company) launched the first commercially available vinyl long-playing record, marketed as “Program Transcription” discs.

Beginning in 1939, Dr. Peter Goldmark and his staff at Columbia Records undertook efforts to address problems of recording and playing back narrow grooves and developing an inexpensive, reliable consumer playback system.

The 12-inch (30 cm) Long Play (LP) 33⅓ rpm microgroove record album was introduced by the Columbia Record Company at a New York press conference on June 21, 1948.

In February 1949, RCA Victor released the first 45 rpm single, 7 inches in diameter, with a large center hole to accommodate an automatic play mechanism on the changer, so a stack of singles would drop down one record at a time automatically after each play.

45 rpm single record and the 33⅓ rpm LP (for “long play”) format was developed by Columbia Records and marketed in 1948.

RCA Victor developed the 45 rpm format and marketed it in 1949, in response to Columbia.

In the mid-1950s all record companies agreed to a common recording standard called RIAA equalization.

The older 78 format continued to be mass produced alongside the newer formats until about 1960 in the U.S., and in a few countries, such as India (where some Beatles recordings were issued on 78), into the 1960s.

For example, Columbia Records’ last reissue of Frank Sinatra songs on 78 rpm records was an album called “Young at Heart”, issued November 1, 1954.

The 78 rpm was overtaken in popularity by the 45 rpm in the late 1950s, as teenagers became increasingly affluent, although some of Elvis Presley’s early singles sold more copies on 78 than on 45.

The last new 78 rpm singles in the UK were released in March 1960 and production ceased in 1961.

The last Columbia Records reissue of any Frank Sinatra songs on a 10″ LP record was an album called “Hall of Fame”, CL 2600, issued October 26, 1956, containing six songs, one each by Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Ray, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, and Frankie Laine.

The 45 rpm discs also came in a variety known as extended play (EP) which achieved up to 10–15 minutes play.

The large center hole on 45s allows for easier handling by jukebox mechanisms. EPs were generally discontinued by the late 1950s as three- and four-speed record players replaced the individual 45 players.

However, the EP lasted considerably longer in Europe, and was a popular format during the 1960s for recordings by artists such as Serge Gainsbourg and the Beatles.

Stereo sound:
In 1957 the first commercial stereo two-channel records were issued on translucent blue vinyl by Bel Canto, the first of which is a highly-collectible multi-colored-vinyl sampler featuring `A Stereophonic Tour of Los Angeles’ narrated by Jack Wagner.

At the time of the introduction of the compact disc (CD) in the mid-1980s, the stereo LP pressed in vinyl was at the high point of its development. Still, it suffered from a variety of limitations:

All the above was minimised and extracted from the wikipedia web address above.