Vinyl records have been delighting listeners and collectors since the 1900s. Since RCA Victor launched the first commercial vinyl long-playing record in 1930, vinyl has continued to grow in popularity. Last year in the United States, vinyl sales were over 1,000% higher than a decade prior. How did this medium come to be, and where is vinyl headed from here?

The Invention of Vinyl

The first vinyl discs were made for playback at 33 1/3 rpm and pressed onto 12” diameter flexible plastic discs. These were a commercial flop due to consumer hesitance during the Great Depression and a lack of consumer playback equipment. However, starting in 1939, Columbia Records continued to develop vinyl technology and In 1948, introduced the 12” Long Play (LP) 33 1/3 rpm microgroove record.

The cutthroat rivalry between RCA Victor and Columbia Records led to the introduction of another competing format by RCA, the 7”/45 rpm Extended Play (EP). The period where both of these formats fought for dominance from 1948-1950 was known as the “War of the Speeds.”

The Winner of the War

After a few years of duking it out, the 12”/33 1/3 rpm LP became the predominant format for albums, and the 7” record became the format of choice for singles. EPs offered a similar playtime to the 78 rpm discs, and LPs provided up to 30 minutes of playtime per side. In the early 1960s, consumers caught onto stereo LPs, and conventional mono LPs stopped being manufactured by 1968. 

Competition from Cassettes and CDs

Phillips introduced the first cassette in 1962 and gave vinyl some stiff competition. Since cassettes were more portable and able to rewind, fast forward, pause, play or stop at the touch of a button, consumers latched onto the new technology. In 1974, Phillips also began developing the Compact Disc (CD), which would completely usurp the vinyl market in 1988. From 1988-1991, there was a continued decline in vinyl sales, with only collectors and audiophiles remaining loyal to the format. 

The Vinyl Revival

After decades of music being stored as mp3s and mp4s on computer hard drives, vinyl saw a resurgence in the late 2010s. January 2017 boasted the highest number of vinyl records sold since 1991. 2017 marked the tenth consecutive year of vinyl growth, partially thanks to indie rock, the emergence of more record stores, and the novelty of the format. Today, vinyl records continue to grow in popularity.

Professional Cleaning to Preserve Your Vinyl Records from The Vinyl Revivers

The Vinyl Revivers” brings your dirty records back to life and cleans your new records to ensure that you continue to enjoy the best audio quality possible. Cleaning your records will also preserve the life of your cartridge. We offer a range of vinyl cleaning services including a simple cleaning for one LP, an annual subscription of premium cleanings for your entire record collection and more. Our record cleaning process is thorough and designed to offer the best clean possible. For more information on our cleaning services, call us today at (301) 848-4100.