Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: The first LP, part 2

When the 12-inch long-playing album was first introduced in the summer of 1948, it was a scientific breakthrough.  But why did anyone choose 12 inches when the format of choice at the time was the 78, which was ten inches across?  A couple of reasons. 

First, 12 inches is a foot, a nice familiar unit of measurement.  Second, the goal set for engineers was to get at least 22 minutes per side.  Third, 22 minutes was determined to be a nice length for classical recordings.  Anything written that needed to be recorded usually didn’t require any more than 22 minutes.  And fourth, technology at the time allowed for grooves to be cut at anywhere from 224 to 300 per inch. 

If you work out the math, a 12-inch record with that many grooves per inch spinning at 33 1/3 RPM works out to 22 minutes.

Part one of the story about the first LP can be found here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38051 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.