Columbia Introduces First LP Record

On June 21, 1948, Columbia Records introduced the first LP, or “long playing” record.

At the time the LP was introduced, nearly all phonograph records for home use were made of an abrasive (and therefore noisy) shellac compound, employed a much larger groove, and played at approximately 78 rpm, limiting the playing time of a 12-inch record to less than five minutes per side.

33 1/3 RPM Long-playing record

33 1/3 RPM Long-playing Record

The new product was a 12 or 10-inch fine-grooved disc made of vinyl and played with a smaller-tipped “microgroove” stylus at a speed of 33⅓ rpm. Each side of a 12-inch LP could play for more than 20 minutes. Only the microgroove standard was truly new, as both vinyl and the 33⅓ rpm speed had been used for special purposes for many years, as well as in one unsuccessful earlier attempt to introduce a long-playing record for home use. Although the LP was especially suited to classical music because of its extended continuous playing time, it also allowed a collection of ten or more typical “pop” music recordings to be put on a single disc.

Previously, such collections, as well as longer classical music broken up into several parts, had been sold as sets of 78 rpm records in a specially imprinted “record album” consisting of individual record sleeves bound together in book form. The use of the word “album” persisted for the one-disc LP equivalent.

%d bloggers like this: