Filmophone was an early type of flexible record, introduced by Filmophone Flexible Records Ltd for the UK market in 1930.
They were 10-inches in diameter, double-sided and played at 78rpm. Unlike contemporary 10-inch 78s which were made of heavy and brittle shellac, Filmophone records were made of cellulose, and were initially available in a range of colours. Priced at 2 shillings and sixpence, they were popular in the UK for a time, and many of the releases were by British musicians.
Due to their flexibility, they don’t always lay flat on a turntable, and they were designed to last perhaps a dozen plays.
Nearly 400 titles were released on Filmophone records, but they stopped being produced in 1932.
Sometime during the late 1900s, record companies began to sell sets of 78rpm disc records in hardback ‘albums’. These were much like photograph albums, but with paper sleeves for multiple 10-inch or 12-inch phonograph discs, and they allowed record companies to sell complete musical works such as operas or classical works. The 78 rpm records of the time were only able to contain around 3 minutes of playing time on the 10-inch version, and 5 minutes on the 12-inch versions, so a longer complete work had to be spread across several discs.
Around the same time, empty record albums became available to allow listeners to store and protect their own discs, write information about the contents on an index page, and display the album on bookshelves.
Record albums eventually came to be used to contain compilations by artist, or by genre, in addition to longer works, and a set of 4-5 discs could contain 8-10 songs. Later releases had cover artwork and liner notes.
With the advent of the Long Play microgroove record in 1948 that could hold the same number of songs on a single disc there was no longer a need for record albums containing several discs, and indeed by the late 1950s the 78 rpm disc itself was being phased out. However, the term ‘album’ continues to be used to describe a collection of songs, whatever the format.
Durium was the name of a UK record label, and also the name of the material used to make the records it issued, which was a synthetic brown resin invented in the US in 1929. Durium was also used by a US record label called ‘Hit Of The Week’ between 1930 and 1932 to make cardboard-backed flexi-discs, initially with one song, and later with two songs on one side of the disc.
The UK Durium label also used the durium material make inexpensive cardboard-backed flexi-discs containing two songs, and sold at newsstands. Sound quality was as good or even better than the usual shellac used for most phonograph records of the time. They could be played with standard steel needles and were as durable as shellac discs (and less fragile). Like shellac records, Durium records span at 78rpm, but had closer spaced grooves to enable five minutes of playing time (at the expense of bass response).
Most discs were 10-inches in diameter, and were contained in flimsy sleeves. They usually had plain cardboard backings, but some had pictures of the artist.
In the UK, the Durium label released around 40 title from April 1932 to January 1933 at the rate of one per week, on Fridays which was traditionally payday in the UK.
Durium records are still playable today, unless they are badly creased. If the records will not sit flat on the turntable, they can be weighted with a upturned mug or similar object.
Broadcast Twelve was a type of 10-inch 78rpm phonograph record, introduced in 1928 by the UK-based Vocalion Gramophone Company Ltd.
Broadcast Twelve was so named as its narrower grooves and smaller centre label allowed the same playing time on a 10-inch disc as the equivalent standard 12-inch 78rpm record.
Records under the Broadcast label were also available in other sizes (including 8-inch), and were aimed at working-class consumers.
Vocalion sold Broadcast records in non-traditional outlets such as toy shops and stationers. Margins were very slim however, and in 1932 Vocalion went into liquidation, being bought by the Crystalate Gramophone Record Manufacturing Company Ltd. who phased out the Broadcast label by 1934.
The 10-inch single is a phonograph audio format played at 33⅓ or 45 rpm.
A handful of 10-inch singles were released in the 1970s, but although there were increasing numbers of releases in the 1980s it was never became very widespread, especially when compared with the 12-inch single.
Phonograph disc records were developed by Emile Berliner, whose earliest discs, first marketed in 1889 in Europe, were 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. In the United States in 1894, Berliner started marketing single-sided 7-inch records. Berliner’s records had poor sound quality compared to wax cylinders, but his manufacturing associate Eldridge R. Johnson eventually improved them.
In 1901, 10-inch disc records were introduced (with around 3 minutes playing time per side) followed in 1903 by 12-inch records (with around 4 to 5 minutes playing time), although 10-inch remained the most popular size. Contemporary cylinders could only play for about two minutes, and despite improvements in cylinder playing time, during the 1910s discs decisively won out. Other size discs were used and 8-inch discs became popular for about a decade in the UK.
By 1919 the basic patents for the manufacture of disc records had expired, opening the field for countless companies to produce them.
Early disc recordings were produced in a variety of speeds ranging from 60 to 130 rpm but by 1925, the speed of disc records was standardized at a nominal value of 78 rpm. Until the introduction of microgroove 33⅓ and 45 rpm records after World War II, 78 rpm disc records were just called ‘records’, it was only after this time that they began to be called ’78s’.
Early recordings were made entirely acoustically, the sound being collected by a horn and piped to a diaphragm, which vibrated the cutting stylus. From 1925, electrical recording became available and gradually, electrical reproduction entered the home.
The earliest disc records were made of various materials including hard rubber. Around 1895, a shellac-based compound was introduced and became standard, typically composed of about one-third shellac and about two-thirds mineral filler, which meant finely pulverized rock, an admixture of cotton fibers to add tensile strength, carbon black for color, and a very small amount of a lubricant to facilitate mold release during manufacture. The production of shellac records continued until the end of the 78 rpm format, although other materials were used, including vinyl. Shellac is brittle, and records needed to be handled carefully.
By about 1910 bound collections of empty sleeves similar to a photograph album, were sold as ‘record albums‘ that customers could use to store their records. Starting in the 1930s, record companies began issuing collections of 78 rpm records by one performer or of one type of music in specially assembled albums, typically with artwork on the front cover and liner notes on the back or inside cover. When the 12-inch LP was introduced, they contained as many songs as an album of 78s and continued to be referred to as an album.
The 78 rpm format continued to be mass-produced alongside the newer formats until the late 1950s. Sales of 78 rpm records reached a peak in the US in 1947, when the record industry hit a new sales records of $204.2 million. Record sales overall declined over the next few years, and only exceeded 1947’s total in 1955 with sales of $235.2 million, by which time the 78 rpm accounted for less than 50% of sales.
In the United Kingdom, the 78 rpm single lasted longer than in the United States and the 7-inch single took longer to become popular. In the UK, sales of 78 rpm records still accounted for 65% of record sales in 1957, and this was also the peak year for production, with 54.1 discs produced. Sales of 78 rpm records declined very quickly after this, and the last 78 in the UK was ‘A Mess Of Blues’ by Elvis Presley (1960).
The 10-inch Long-Play (LP) record is a variation on the 12-inch LP and was introduced at the same time by Columbia Records in 1948.
The 10-inch LP provided around 14 minutes of playing time per side (compared to around 23 minutes on the 12-inch version) at 33⅓ rpm.
The 12-inch format was initially used for higher-priced classical recordings and Broadway shows, while popular music appeared on 10-inch records. By the mid-1950s, this changed and the 10-inch LP version lost out.
10-inch LPs would reappear as mini-albums in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the US and Australia as a marketing alternative.