CD Video 12-inch disc (1988 – 1992)

CD Video (CDV) was a format launched in 1988 by Philips that combined the technologies of the Compact Disc and LaserDisc. Three sizes of CD Video disc were available, the smallest CD Video disc being the same size as a Compact Disc and having audio content that could be played on any Compact Disc player as well as some video content that required a compatible LaserDisc or CD Video player.

The 8-inch size disc contained only video content and was used for music video compilations, with a total capacity of 20 minutes per side. The 12-inch size disc was used for longer music compilations and feature films, and like a standard LaserDisc could hold 60 minutes per side. The only difference between the new CD Video 12-inch disc and the existing LaserDisc format was simply that CD Video had digital audio (it still had analogue video) but this was more a marketing exercise since digital audio had already been introduced by Pioneer in 1984, and Pioneer had produced a series of Compact LaserDiscs in 1986 that had digital audio for music videos.

To distinguish the new CD Video discs from Compact Discs and other LaserDiscs, they were coloured gold.

The new CD Video discs could only be played on the latest LaserDisc players, such as the Pioneer CLD-1010 from 1987, so owners of older LaserDisc players could not play them. Philips launched a player capable of playing all sizes of CD Video disc in 1988 in Europe (the CDV 475), and also launched a smaller machine capable of playing just the 5-inch CD Video discs and audio Compact Discs.

CD Video was not a success and although the LaserDisc format carried on until 2001 mainly promoted by Pioneer, the CD Video name was dropped after a couple of years and Philips along with other collaborators, introduced Video CD in 1993.

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Dynaflex (1971 – late 1970s)

Dynaflex was a type of 12-inch vinyl LP produced by RCA, and introduced in early 1971. It is essentially a very thin LP that was able to flex more without damage, and also claimed to produce a smoother and quieter playing surface.

When introduced, Dynaflex records had a thickness of just 0.03 inches, and a weight of 90 grams (standard LPs were usually around 135 grams).

Their thinness could cause problems with automatic record changers (two discs might drop instead of one for instance) and they needed to be played on a full-size turntable platter otherwise the unsupported section of the record might droop under the weight of the stylus.

There is debate about whether Dynaflex records sound better or worse than standard vinyl, but whatever the truth, RCA stopped using the Dynaflex name sometime in the late 1970s and returned to standard weight vinyl records.

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CD Video 8-inch disc (1988 – 1992)

CD Video (CDV) was a format launched in 1988 by Philips that combined the technologies of the Compact Disc and LaserDisc. Three sizes of CD Video disc were available, the smallest CD Video disc being the same size as a Compact Disc and having audio content that could be played on any Compact Disc player as well as some video content that required a compatible LaserDisc or CD Video player.

The 8-inch size disc contained only video content and was used for music video compilations, with a total capacity of 20 minutes per side. The 12-inch size disc was used for longer music compilations and feature films, and like a standard LaserDisc could hold 60 minutes per side. The only difference between the new CD Video 8-inch disc and the existing LaserDisc 8-inch disc was simply that CD Video had digital audio (it still has analogue video) but this was more a marketing exercise since digital audio had already been introduced by Pioneer in 1984, and Pioneer had produced a series of Compact LaserDiscs in 1986 that had digital audio for music videos.

To distinguish the new CD Video discs from Compact Discs and other LaserDiscs, they were coloured gold.

The new CD Video discs could only be played on the latest LaserDisc players, such as the Pioneer CLD-1010 from 1987, so owners of older LaserDisc players could not play them. Philips launched a player capable of playing all sizes of CD Video disc in 1988 in Europe (the CDV 475), and also launched a smaller machine capable of playing just the 5-inch CD Video discs and audio Compact Discs.

CD Video was not a success and although the LaserDisc format carried on until 2001 mainly promoted by Pioneer, the CD Video name was dropped after a couple of years and Philips along with other collaborators, introduced Video CD in 1993.

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Centre-start phonograph record (1905 – )

Centre-start (or inside-start) phonograph records date back as far as 1905 with the Pathé vertical-cut disc record, that in addition to other unusual features such as being vertically rather than laterally cut and running at 90rpm, required the stylus to be placed in the area that on other records would be the run-out grooves. In 1915, Pathé switch to a more conventional outside-start.

Later, Electrical transcription discs (1920s – 1980s) often used centre-starts, sometimes on both sides and sometimes alternating with an outside-start on the second side, possibly to reduce changes in sound quality between the end of one side and the start of the other. As the stylus moves to the centre of a record, the linear groove speed decreases and there can be more ‘end-groove distortion’.

Since then, centre-start records have tended to be uncommon, and were usually used as a novelty or promotional feature. A couple of examples include King Kurt’s Destination Zululand 12-inch single (1983) and more recently Jack White’s Lazaretto 12-inch LP (2014), which had a centre-start on side one.

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Voice Record (1930s – early 1940s)

Voice Records were small aluminium phonograph discs, intended to be used to record a personal message.

They were introduced in the 1930s in the UK, to be recorded in automatic booths operated by the Amusement Equipment Co. Ltd. of Wembley. The booths were placed in places were people might want to record a message to family or friends, such as  tourist attractions.

The discs were 5-inches in diameter, span at 78rpm, and were double-sided with one side for recording up to one minute of a personal message and the other containing a pre-recorded advertisement (often for cigarettes, but sometimes promoting attractions local to the machine). The discs came with a mailing envelope for posting the recorded message and some wooden needles, since the steel needles used at the time on phonographs would damage the recording.

This most likely the system Graham Greene had in mind when writing Brighton Rock (1938) when Pinkie records his message to Rose.

The machines were withdrawn from service during World War II, when supplies of aluminium were needed for military use. It is probable that many Voice Records were donated as scrap for the war effort.

The Voice-O-Graph was a very similar later concept, but used laminated cardboard.

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Gold CD-R (1996 – )

Gold CD-Rs (sometimes called archival CD-Rs) are intended to have a much longer life than standard CD-Rs. The main difference is that these CD-Rs use gold as the reflective layer to prevent oxidation (also known as laser rot), and they generally also use higher-quality dyes (preferably phthalocyanine). Being write-once also means the data cannot be accidentally overwritten.

Gold CD-Rs were introduced by MAM-A (Mitsui Advanced Media – America) around 1996.

Some gold CD-Rs suggest that they can offer data storage for to 300 years. Unfortunately there is no way to tell if this will be the case, and the future obsolescence of optical drives means they still should not be relied upon for long-term data storage.

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Preservation / Migration

Crown records (1935 – 1937)

The Crown name was used by several record labels, but around 1935 was used by the Crystalate company to produce a range of 9-inch (22.5 cm) 78rpm records for Woolworths in the UK.

Woolworths had been selling its Eclipse range of 8-inch records since 1929, but rising raw material costs forced them to try something new and they began selling the Crown range in 1935. Unusually, these were pressed on Bakelite, an early form of plastic, and as this was cheaper than shellac the size could be increased. The grooves could also be packed more closely, allowing more playing time, but Woolworths were still able to sell them for sixpence.

The music on Crown records produced by Crystalate was almost all from UK masters, and included popular bands and singers of the time, including Vera Lynn (though she was uncredited).

By 1937, costs had risen and selling records for sixpence was no longer profitable so Crown records were dropped.

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V-Disc (1943 – 1949)

V-Disc was a record label that produced music for US military forces between 1943 and 1949, pressed on 12-inch 78 rpm phonograph discs. Most V-Disc records were pressed on a mixture of Vinylite and Formvar, making it much easier to dispatch records without breakage (many of the brittle shellac records sent by relatives arrived in pieces) although Columbia, one of the companies that pressed V-Discs, continued to use shellac despite it being in short supply during World War II.

The V-Disc label came about as a way to boost morale among the forces. A strike by the American Federation of Musicians over royalty payments from the major record labels meant an agreement that the V-Disc records were not to be sold commercially, and the masters were disposed of.  The V-Disc project meant the forces could hear newly recorded music they would not otherwise hear due to the strike, and these included big band, swing, jazz and marches, often by famous performers who also put spoken greeting into the recordings.

Because of the larger disc size, and closer groove spacing, each side of the disc could hold up to 6 minutes, so performances could be longer and jams could be extended. Discs were sent in sets of 30, and included phonograph needles, lyric sheets and feedback forms to gauge which material was most popular.

After the war ended, the cost of producing V-Disc records meant that the project was gradually run down, with smaller consignments of discs, or longer intervals between them, though they continued to provide entertainment to forces stationed overseas as part of the Marshall Plan. The last consignment of 10 discs was sent in May 1949, and after this many masters and discs were destroyed as part of the agreement with the American Federation of Musicians.

Over 900 V-Disc record titles were issues, and over 8 million discs were produced.

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Kid Kord (1930s)

Kid Kord was a record label in the UK, that produced records for children around the 1930s.

The records themselves were shellac, played at 78rpm and were 8-inches in diameter. Each disc contained about 2¼ minutes per side, and form part of an album of six discs. The colourful centre labels depicted the contents of the record.

Most of the records contained nursery rhymes and children’s songs, though there is a series of zoological records with descriptions of animals, and pictures of them on the centre label.

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DTS 5.1 Music Disc (1997 – early 2000s)

The DTS 5.1 Music Disc was a Compact Disc format offering surround sound audio, usually in the 5.1 configuration. The discs would play in a standard Compact Disc player, but without the use of a DTS decoder all that would be heard is white noise. The potential confusion between DTS 5.1 Music Discs and standard Compact Discs meant some retailers were reluctant to stock them. There is some compression applied to the audio, so sound quality is arguably slightly lower than a standard CD.

Formats such as DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD, launched a few years later, could also offer surround sound and meant an end to the DTS 5.1 Music Disc, though several hundred titles were released on the format.

DTS surround sound technology is also used in movie theatres, on DVD-Video and on Blu-ray. It was also used on a small number of LaserDiscs.

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