In 1948, Columbia Records came up with a game changing alternative to the old scratchy, fragile, 10-inch, 78 RPM record, which had been in existence since the late 1800s. It was the dawn of the new long-playing album, pressed on polyvinyl chloride, a new plastic that allowed grooves to be cut closer together. That meant the capacity of an LP could be greatly increased from around four minutes (for the old 10 inch format), to more than 20 minutes on each side.
RCA, was Columbia’s main competitor at the time. Rather than license the new format from Columbia, RCA vowed to create a new competing format. On March 31st, 1949, RCA revealed the 7-inch, 45 RPM single. Not only did it spin at a different speed, but the hole in the centre was much wider. RCA’s other bright idea was to colour-code releases by format; Country, Children’s records, popular music, R&B, classical and so on were all different colours.
About two years after the 45’s debut, A newly-named demographic known as “teenagers” started embracing their own music, otherwise known as ‘rock ‘n roll’. They bought rock singles by the millions and by the late 1950s, the 45 had become the preferred delivery mechanism for rock music, and the format favoured by pop music radio, by jukebox manufacturers and operators, and for a time, record shops.
To read more about the fascinating history of the 45 RPM single, watch the video below and check out a wonderful, more detailed article by Alan Cross here: http://ajournalofmusicalthings.com/
Image and video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=106&v=36ng1VVuxFw