June 21, 2017

Birth of the 33 1/3 RPM LP ~ June 18, 1948

This month marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern vinyl LP record developed by Columbia Records almost seventy years ago.

photo by Styrous®

CBS Laboratories head research scientist Peter Goldmark led Columbia's team to develop a phonograph record that would hold at least 20 minutes per side. The team included Howard H. Scott, who died September 22, 2012, at the age of 92.

Research began in 1941, was suspended during World War II, and then resumed in 1945. Columbia Records unveiled the LP at a press conference in the Waldorf Astoria on June 18, 1948, in two formats: 10 inches (25 centimetres) in diameter, matching that of 78 rpm singles, and 12 inches (30 centimetres) in diameter.     

The initial release of 133 recordings were: 85 twelve-inch classical LP's (ML4001 to 4085), 26 ten-inch classics (ML2001 to 2026), 18 ten-inch popular numbers (CL6001 to 6018) and 4 ten-inch juvenile records (JL 8001 to 8004).     

According to the 1949 Columbia catalog, issued September 1948, the first twelve-inch LP was the Felix Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844), conducted by Bruno Walter with Nathan Milstein playing violin and the New York Philharmonic (ML 4001). Milstein made four other recordings of the concerto.       

Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 (1844) 
Nathan Milstein - violin, 
the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Bruno Walter  
September 1948 recording 

Three ten-inch series were released: 'popular', starting with the reissue of The Voice of Frank Sinatra (CL 6001); 'classical', numbering from the Symphony No. 8 by Ludwig van Beethoven (ML 2001), and 'juvenile', commencing with Nursery Songs by Gene Kelly (JL 8001).

September 1948 recording 

Also released at this time were a pair of 2-LP opera sets, La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini, SL-1 and Hansel & Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck (not the 1960's singer), SL-2.     
When the LP was introduced in 1948, the 78 was the conventional format for phonograph records. The major labels in the United States ceased the manufacturing of 78s for popular and classical releases in 1956.      

"It was so exciting to go to the record shop,
buy a piece of vinyl and hold it, 
read the liner notes, look at the pictures. 
Even the smell of the vinyl."
                                   Martin Gore

Styrous® ~ June 21, 2017

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