LP's and Record speeds

So what led to the development of record speeds, i.e, 78, 45, & 33 1/3 rpms. What’s so special about those speeds?

Cecil covered this already. Check it out.


Seems to me when I was a little shaver we had a speed of 16. It was used for kiddie records. Anyone else remember?

Anyone remember the “Close ‘n’ Play record” machine. God we thought that was sooo coool.

Thanks, I should have figured Cecil had covered this.

Markxxx, it was actually 16 2/3. I remember because it was half of 33 1/3.

IIRC, 16-2/3 was used primarily for recording speech rather than music because the quality was marginal at best. We had a few records like that. I remember a recording of Alfred Noyes’s The Highwayman that left an impression on my young mind.

“The highwayman came riding, riding …”

Most record players of that era (we didn’t call them turntables – this was before component systems became popular) had a 16 speed setting. Of course we used to play the 33-1/3 records on the 16 setting to make them sound funny and my mom used to get after us.

The marginal quality of the slow speed would not have bothered someone trying to sell to kids, I suppose.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

Actually, the 78 wasn’t quite dead after 1950. Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Ballad of Davy Crockett” was released as a 78, and that was in 1955. I had a copy.
Other releases in 78 around that time included Bozo records with picture books, Walt Disney songs and Burl Ives songs for kids.
Are you starting to see a trend here?
Yep! When the adults upgraded their sound system they didn’t just throw out the old record player(Baby Boomers–your folks were from the Depression. They didn’t throw out equipment that worked).
A lot of parents stuck the old 78 in Jr.'s room. And some record labels were able to get extended use from their old equipment by aiming at that market.

I had lots of 78s in the early '60s. My record player even had a gadget that you put on the spindle on top of the record. It had mirrors (6 IIRC) and as the record turned, the art on the label of the record moved on the mirrors. Who needs VCRs, anyway?

I think the 78 records were a little bit bigger than 45s, but not as big as LPs (33s) and tended to come in bight colors, and be about 1/3 inch thick to cut down on breakage.

I do remeber my record player having a 16 speed setting, but do not recall ever seeing a 16 speed record.

Showing my age today, I fear…

Sue from El Paso

At least by the late 40’s, there were three standard record sizes: 7, 10, and 12 inches. (Kiddie records sometimes came in smaller sizes.) The same three sizes applied to all three speeds. (That 7 may be nominal – it might have been 7 1/2 or something.)

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

Markxxx: [[Seems to me when I was a little shaver we had a speed of 16. It was used for kiddie records. Anyone else remember?]]

Yeah, I had some of those. The records came with a video-looking device that played the records–you could also put film strips in that would advance to keep up with the record. As I recall, whoever said it was right–I think these were all spoken-word records.

Rich Barr
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