On This Day 68 Years Ago – The LP was born!

On 18th June 1948 Columbia Records publicly unveiled its new 33⅓-rpm long-playing phonograph record in New York City. The development team had exceeded by 5 minutes the 17-minute objective set by the president for a product on which could be recorded 90% of all classical music and therefore be seen to qualify for the description: long-playing record.

Philco was the first to produce a marketable phonograph to play these new records. Columbia‘s president, Edward Wallerstein, presented a demonstration at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with a stack of conventional 78-rpm records over eight feet high and another stack of the same recordings in the new LP format only fifteen inches high. After a short speech he played one of the 4 minute 78-rpm records but it broke right in the middle of a movement as usual. Then he took the corresponding LP and played the first track on the Philco phonograph right past that break. The reception was terrific. The critics were struck not only by the length of the record, but by the quietness of its surfaces and its greatly increased fidelity. They were convinced that a new era had come to the record business.

Please see Edward Wallerstein‘s recollection on The Development of the LP for more information.

A history of the development from 4 minute shellac-78-rpm records to 22 minute vinyl-33⅓-rpm records from 1888 to 1948 may be seen here.


Edward Wallerstein with the stack of 78s 8 foot high and the LPs 15 inches high!
Edward Wallerstein with the stack of 78s over 8 foot high and LPs 15 inches high!

Bing Crosby & the Mills Brothers singing My Honey’s Loving Arms was the first track on the first LP and the video below shows it being play on an original Philco phonograph through a 1940 Coronado Console C800 Radio equipped with the necessary RCA jack although it could have been any of these that were used for the 1948 demonstration!




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