Vinyl records have kept company to countless listeners and collectors since the beginning of the 20th century, when RCA Victor launched the first LP Vinyl in 1930.
The first vinyl records were created to be played in 33 1/3 rpm and were “pressed” in flexible plastic records of a 12"diameter, but they had no success on the market. At that time, consumers were rather hesitant due to the Great Depression and, of course, because there was no equipment to play the records. Nonetheless, from 1939, Columbia Records continued developing its technology on vinyl records and, in 1948, it offered to the public its own 12", LP, 33 1/3 rpm, microgroove record. Direct rivalry between RCA Victor and Columbia Records led to the introduction of another competitive form of vinyl records by RCA, the 7", 45 rpm Extended Play (EP). The period during which both companies fought for gaining potential customers, from 1948 to 1950, was known as “the Battle of the Speeds”. A few years later, things stabilized. 12 "/ 33 1/3 rpm LP became the main form for albums and 7" vinyl records prevailed as the best option for singles.
EPs used to offer similar playtime to 78 rpm records, while LP records used to offer up to 30 minutes of music per side. In the early 1960s, consumers turned to stereo LPs, and after 1968, the production of conventional mono LP records stopped for good.
After decades of music, stored as mp3s and mp4s on computer hard drives, vinyl records thrived again in the late 2010s. In January 2017, we witnessed the highest number of vinyl records sold after 1991. And here we are now, talking of a vinyl record revival. “Vinyl records are back”, they say. Are they right? We would say “no”. Because vinyl records were not a trend. They are not like a floral little dress for which one could say “Keep it in your closet, it might be fashionable sometime again”. Vinyl records never died. It was just that some technologies thrived and stole some of their thunder. Fairly? Perhaps. Nonetheless, even now, nobody is more passionate about music than vinyl record lovers and there is a good reason for that. It was that noise brought along with the music and the not so flawless perfection of the mp3s which made them “livelier”. It was the fact that you had to remove the record from its case with deep respect and place it on the record player. It was the fact that you had to be careful. And it was also the needle; that needle that, every time it slipped on the record, carried you along in the revolutions.
Here is some info you might not know about the vinyl records you love so much:
- The first records used to be produced in a wide range, as far as their speed and sizes were concerned. In fact, there was no standard when everything started.
- Nowadays, records are made of PVC, i.e. the same material used for plastic bottles and imitation leather clothes.
- There are at least two vinyl records in space. They were “uploaded” on the unmanned interplanetary spacecrafts Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in 1977. They were gold and they included the sublime song “Johnny be good” by Chuck Berry. Because, after all, even aliens deserve some good music.
- “AndVinyly” and Jason Leach give the opportunity to everyone interested, to turn their ashes into a vinyl record. The record may contain some words, the last wish of the person deceased, their favorite song or whatever they may want.
- The number one selling vinyl record of all times is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, while, under a funny circumstance, the number one vinyl record in the United Kingdom for 2015 was “1989” by Taylor Swift.
- One of the most expensive records was by “Velvet Underground” and it was sold for $25,000.
- The first 12" record was the Beethoven’s Fifth.