How a forgotten 1949 Format War shaped the future of records

  • Published on:  11/9/2019
  • Once upon a time the 45 and the LP were rival formats.
    This video tells the story how RCAs beef with Columbia ended up shaping the future of popular music.

    This is a video about the Format War of 1949. Things like 12" 45s, 45 RPM Albums, EPs, 16rpm records, styrene singles and 45s with a raised stepped ridge around the centre that aids grip when stacked don't feature in this story because they were introduced after the conclusion of this particular story.

    Regarding the question posed at the end - a few people have mentioned that the record players in their country had single adaptors. This was not unusual. I've demonstrated a few turntables on this channel with the built-in 45 adaptors. If your turntable didn't have a built in adaptor - you could buy one. However that's the result - not the cause. The records came first - the players accommodated the type of records sold in that country. A country could have chosen to go with small or large holes - the decision on which way they went was the thing of interest - what was the common denominator? Why was a large spindle hole chosen in Germany, but a small one in the UK?

    We think we have an answer - it seems that Commonwealth countries went with the small hole and countries with a US armed forces presence after the war were more inclined towards the large hole. However if you know any other info on this - please share.

    Links to things mentioned in the video:

    The UK Ebay seller who modifies and repairs old RCA 45 Machines (Affiliated Link)

    RCA’s Bizarre 12 Fact Rant

    Pink Floyd Wish you were here Vinylite Record (Affiliated Link):

    Shellac Photo courtesy of Jeffrey W. Lotz, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, -

    ***UPDATE*** If you want to see/hear one of RCA’s records from their first attempt at a 33 1/3 record - VWestlife has uploaded a video: (The format was introduced in 1931 - and discontinued in 1933)

    Q) You *forgot* to mention (insert item here) - usually 16rpm records, but sometimes 45rpm 12” records, or singles from the 1960s with the toothed centres
    A) The topic of this video is *The Format War of 1949* - anything that happened later isn’t part of that story so wasn’t included in this particular tale.



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    -------THANKS TO -------
    Jerobeam Fenderson for the intro logo oscilloscope animation:

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    Over Time - Vibe Tracks

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    ThatSFXGuy -