Monday, August 1, 2011

COLLECTION #22: 78 Records & Albums

It's amazing to me how far we've come in my lifetime in regards to how we hear and acquire recorded music. Today we download music from iTunes for 99 cents; when I was young we went to the music store, and bought albums and 'singles', listening to them first in a sound booth, to pick just the songs we wanted. When I was young, most of our records were 45s (singles) or 33 RPM LPs, which meant long-play.  These 33 albums usually contained anywhere from 8 to 11 songs on 2 sides, and they were made of vinyl.  (For those of you under the age of 50, RPM means 'revolutions per minute'). Between then and now we went through 8-track tapes, cassettes, and of course, compact discs, or CDs.  I still have boxes of cassette tapes, which replaced my collection of LPs.  Although I'll probably share some of my collection of classic LPs on this blog at a later time, I don't think anyone is interested in my vast collection of cassette tapes.


Starting in the early part of the 20th century, records were manufactured out of a variety of materials, some of which were extremely brittle. The most common material was known as 'shellac', and this hard composite was used until the early 1950s when vinyl replaced this material.  These early records were recorded at 78 RPM, and so were called '78s'.  Back then, a single side of a record held a single song, rather than multiple songs like the LPs. So, the record companies created special 'albums' to hold multiple records. The albums were like photo albums or even like books- cardboard covers with nice artwork or photography, and inside, brown sleeves held the records, each with a hole in the center to show the record label. Sometimes interesting 'liner notes' or photos were on the inside. So today, when we talk about 'albums', this is where that came from.
This Snow White album had art and photos on the liner, and also contained a little story book with recording information and illustrations. It was published in 1944.

I have a small collection of 78s. They range from children's records to Big Band.
I well remember my Dad's fabulous collection of 78s. My brother inherited all of those record albums, but I managed to keep 2 Bing Crosby and 1 Artie Shaw record from his collection. The others were all acquired from various sources, including the library of my late Mother-in-law. These records & albums date from the 1930s to the early 1950s, when LPs became the format of choice.


1 comment:

Barbara said...

Did you know there is a record player you can attach to your computer to play and record your old albums. I regret giving my away at a garage sale - I had some pretty cool rock 'n roll from the 70's and 80's.