78 RPM Vinyl Records

LP or “long-playing” vinyl records crowded out shorter-length 78 RPM records in the 1960's, but until then, these were the standard for recorded music. Everything from classic hits to syndicated radio programming came on a 78 in the United Kingdom, United States and around the world.

78 RPM Vinyl Record Design

Originally using an abrasive shellac compound, 78 RPM records were inscribed with grooves read by needles that translated the vibrations to sounds through a 78 record player. The 12-inch diameter of the disc and the size of the grooves, which were larger than those of later records, meant that playback was limited to around five minutes or so of audio. While some amazing things happened with the format, including a switch to grainless vinyl in the 1950's that achieved a playing time of 17 minutes per side, 78's eventually gave way to 33 1/2 and 45 RPM records.

78 RPM Vinyl Record Use

As with its descendents, the 78 RPM was most popularly for playing music on an RPM turntable. Soundtrack discs were mostly destined for later 33 1/2 RPM records, but 78's pressed with popular music and radio transcriptions.