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Office Hours

Business trivia question: when was the first commercial LP album released?

This item might normally show up in Paul Turner's Slice column. Since he may have missed it, OfficeHours will offer it up for quick consumption.

The first long play (LP) vinyl record was introduced by Columbia Records on June 21, 1948. Up to then, all commercially sold vinyl was played at 78 revolutions per minute.

Columbia got there first by using a team of engineers who evolved the 78-rpm record into its still-viable 33-1/3 rpm version. By doing that, they extended a disk playback time to more than 20 minutes per side, and shrank vinyl grooves to an accessible millimeter size.

The June 18, 1948 Wall Street Journal announced the advent of the new LP. It cited sources from the Chicago-based Magnavox Co. who were quoted saying Magnavox was preparing to introduce a two-speed player that year. It would add $25 to the cost of its standard players to have that dual option.

For once, a company spokesman made a comment that resounded accurately and prophetically. In the WSJ article a Magnavox exec said the new LP will be  “a huge turning point” in the recorded music industry. Got that right.

The idea of long-play vinyl wasn't totally new. Back in the 1930s, RCA Victor introduced the first commercially available LP turntable-player. It never went into production due to the impact of the Great Depression.


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