On this day in 1949 the 45 rpm vinyl record format was introduced by RCA. The previous year the 33 rpm vinyl record, which gave a longer playing times per side than the existing 78 rpm format was introduced.
The 45 rpm record would remain largely unchallenged as a portable audio format until Philips invented the compact cassette in 1963 though the cassette would not take off as a quality portable medium until Sony invented the Walkman (originally called the stowaway in the UK) which hit the consumer market in the early 80’s.
The cassette however remained largely a medium for self transcribing of music from radio and vinyl though pre recorded cassette and ‘cassingle’ sales boomed in the 80’s despite the introduction of the digital CD in 1982 which saw rapid adoption throughout the 1980’s.
CD In Decline
And now the CD itself is in decline with a 10% drop in sales last year as digital downloads continue to grow as does the availability of free music both illegally and legally.
Oddly actual vinyl sales have increased, the only physical music format that has done so, as a generation that grew up with CD’s embraces the previously unknown experiences of owning a and playing a LP and 45 rpm record.
Clearly retro sells and the 45 might yet outlive the CD as a physical format that sells.
Attempts to introduce new physical music formats continue.