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Look What Turned 60 Years Old

June 11, 2009

45

A younger friend was amazed at the number of albums I had.  And the fact I still played them.  I think vinyl has a warmer, and richer sound than a CD, and I also love the memories associated with them when I put them on on the turntable for music.  It just came to my attention that one of the vinyl wonders celebrated a birthday…..the 60th one!

The 45 rpm record officially turned 60 years old on March 31, 2009. British trade journals are reporting that single song 45rpm records are now outselling their CD counterparts and many American bands are now releasing music via this historic audio medium.

The 45rpm record was initially introduced in 1949 by RCA Records as a smaller, more durable replacement for the heavy 78 shellac-based records of the time. The 45 was created by RCA as a competitive move against one their rival record companies, Columbia, which had just introduced the new microgroove 33 1/3 rpm LP. The number 45 came from taking 78 and subtracting Columbia’s new 33 to equal the 45. Record companies and consumers alike faced an uncertain future as to which format would survive the 78rpm or the 45rpm; in what was known as the “War of the Speeds.” In 1949 Capitol and Decca started issuing the new LP format and RCA relented and issued its first LP in January 1950. But the 45 rpm was gaining in popularity and Columbia issued its first 45s in February 1951. Soon other record companies saw the mass consumer appeal the new format allowed and by 1954 more than 200 million 45s had been sold.

On March 31, 1949, RCA Victor released “Texarkana Baby” b/w “Bouquet of Roses” by Eddy Arnold. The first 45 to hit the Billboard charts was “A — You’re Adorable” by Perry Como, listed on the charts on May 7, 1949. The next week, the year’s biggest hit appeared on the Billboard charts — “Riders In The Sky (A Cowboy Legend)” by Vaughn Monroe. The first 45rpm records were monaural and as stereo sound became more prevalent and popular in the 1960s, almost all 45rpm records were manufactured in stereo.

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