June 18, 1948: 12-Inch Vinyl LP Introduced

Share This:

Columbia Records held a press conference at the famed Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City on June 18, 1948, in which label president Goddard Lieberson introduced its new “microgroove” 33 1/3 RPM long-playing 12-inch vinyl phonograph record disc to the world. Until then, music had been sold on 10-inch 78 RPM shellac discs. The new format was lighter, thinner and far-less apt to break in everyday usage, and could play up to 20-minutes (and later more) per side (as opposed to the four to five minute length on a 78).

The development was first thought to be a boon for classical music as its audio capacity could hold longer compositions. But in time it also gave rise to collections of songs from popular music acts as an “album” – a term that actually originated with the hard-bound packages of 78s in multiple paper sleeves between two covers.

The 12-inch disc was able to accommodate the growing artistic ambitions of pop and rock artists in the 1960s and fueled a recorded music sales boom throughout that decade into the next.

Related: Interview with Columbia Records’ legendary talent scout John Hammond

The Budapest-born engineer Peter C. Goldmark of CBS Laboratories is credited with the invention. Interestingly, his son Andy Goldmark became a successful pop songwriter whose compositions were heard on many millions of 12-inch albums.

By 1992, sales of compact discs outpaced vinyl albums, and the latter format was thought to be archaic if not dead. For more than a decade now, the 12-inch, 33 1/3 album has once again become a growth format in the recorded music industry, and even surpassing sales of CDs, led by the back-to-basics thinking of collectors. Many new releases and reissues are being pressed on heavy duty 180g vinyl with audiophile quality. Time to go shopping!

Best Classic Bands Staff

2 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. RecordSteve
    #1 RecordSteve 20 June, 2020, 11:59

    I’ve got great memories of playing my long play 12″ lps (over 300 albums that broke my
    carousel holder) thankful for those days!

    Reply this comment
  2. JeffryD
    #2 JeffryD 19 June, 2023, 06:16

    I grew up playing my parent’s records and eventually had my own until I moved to CA and I had to sell them because I had no room. Now in my 60’s, I have a new collection of over 3000+ LPs and I love being able to take one down and let the music play!

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

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