Phonograph record

A typical 12-inch LP vinyl record.

A phonograph record (also known as a gramophone record, especially in British English, or record) is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove. The groove usually starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disc. At first, the discs were commonly made from shellac; starting in the 1950s polyvinyl chloride became common. In recent decades, records have sometimes been called vinyl records, or simply vinyl, although this would exclude most records made until after World War II.

The phonograph disc record was the primary medium used for music reproduction until late in the 20th century. It had co-existed with the phonograph cylinder from the late 1880s and had effectively superseded it by around 1912. Records retained the largest market share even when new formats such as the compact cassette were mass-marketed. By the late 1980s, digital media, in the form of the compact disc, had gained a larger market share, and the vinyl record left the mainstream around 1991. [1] From the 1990s to the 2010s, records continued to be manufactured and sold on a much smaller scale, and were especially used by disc jockeys (DJs), released by artists in some genres, and listened to by a niche market of audiophiles. The phonograph record has made a notable niche resurgence in the early 21st century – 9.2 million records were sold in the U.S. in 2014, a 260% increase since 2009. [2] Likewise, in the UK sales have increased five-fold from 2009 to 2014. [3]

As of 2017, 48 record pressing facilities remain worldwide, 18 in the United States and 30 in other countries. The increased popularity of vinyl has led to the investment in new and modern record-pressing machines. [4] Only two producers of lacquers remain: Apollo Masters in California, USA, and MDC in Japan. [5]

Phonograph records are generally described by their diameter in inches (12-inch, 10-inch, 7-inch), the rotational speed in revolutions per minute (rpm) at which they are played (​8 13, ​16 23, ​33 13, 45, 78), [6] and their time capacity, determined by their diameter and speed (LP [long playing], 12-inch disc, ​33 13 rpm; SP [single], 10-inch disc, 78 rpm, or 7-inch disc, 45 rpm; EP [extended play], 12-inch disc, ​33 13 or 45 rpm); their reproductive quality, or level of fidelity (high-fidelity, orthophonic, full-range, etc.); and the number of audio channels ( mono, stereo, quad, etc.).

Vinyl records may be scratched or warped if stored incorrectly but if they are not exposed to high heat, carelessly handled or broken, a vinyl record has the potential to last for centuries.

The large cover (and inner sleeves) are valued by collectors and artists for the space given for visual expression, especially when it comes to the long play vinyl LP.

Early history

Edison wax cylinder phonograph c. 1899

The phonautograph, patented by Léon Scott in 1857, used a vibrating diaphragm and stylus to graphically record sound waves as tracings on sheets of paper, purely for visual analysis and without any intent of playing them back. In the 2000s, these tracings were first scanned by audio engineers and digitally converted into audible sound. Phonautograms of singing and speech made by Scott in 1860 were played back as sound for the first time in 2008. Along with a tuning fork tone and unintelligible snippets recorded as early as 1857, these are the earliest known recordings of sound.

In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. Unlike the phonautograph, it was capable of both recording and reproducing sound. Despite the similarity of name, there is no documentary evidence that Edison's phonograph was based on Scott's phonautograph. Edison first tried recording sound on a wax-impregnated paper tape, with the idea of creating a " telephone repeater" analogous to the telegraph repeater he had been working on. Although the visible results made him confident that sound could be physically recorded and reproduced, his notes do not indicate that he actually reproduced sound before his first experiment in which he used tinfoil as a recording medium several months later. The tinfoil was wrapped around a grooved metal cylinder and a sound-vibrated stylus indented the tinfoil while the cylinder was rotated. The recording could be played back immediately. The Scientific American article that introduced the tinfoil phonograph to the public mentioned Marey, Rosapelly and Barlow as well as Scott as creators of devices for recording but, importantly, not reproducing sound. [7] Edison also invented variations of the phonograph that used tape and disc formats. [8] Numerous applications for the phonograph were envisioned, but although it enjoyed a brief vogue as a startling novelty at public demonstrations, the tinfoil phonograph proved too crude to be put to any practical use. A decade later, Edison developed a greatly improved phonograph that used a hollow wax cylinder instead of a foil sheet. This proved to be both a better-sounding and far more useful and durable device. The wax phonograph cylinder created the recorded sound market at the end of the 1880s and dominated it through the early years of the 20th century.

Emile Berliner with disc record gramophone

Lateral-cut disc records were developed in the United States by Emile Berliner, who named his system the "gramophone", distinguishing it from Edison's wax cylinder "phonograph" and American Graphophone's wax cylinder " graphophone". Berliner's earliest discs, first marketed in 1889, but only in Europe, were 12.5 cm (approx 5 inches) in diameter, and were played with a small hand-propelled machine. Both the records and the machine were adequate only for use as a toy or curiosity, due to the limited sound quality. In the United States in 1894, under the Berliner Gramophone trademark, Berliner started marketing records of 7 inches diameter with somewhat more substantial entertainment value, along with somewhat more substantial gramophones to play them. Berliner's records had poor sound quality compared to wax cylinders, but his manufacturing associate Eldridge R. Johnson eventually improved the sound quality. Abandoning Berliner's "Gramophone" trademark for legal reasons, in 1901 Johnson's and Berliner's separate companies reorganized to form the Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey, whose products would come to dominate the market for many years. [9] Emile Berliner moved his company to Montreal in 1900. The factory, which became the Canadian branch of RCA Victor still exists. There is a dedicated museum in Montreal for Berliner.

In 1901, 10-inch disc records were introduced, followed in 1903 by 12-inch records. These could play for more than three and four minutes respectively, whereas contemporary cylinders could only play for about two minutes. In an attempt to head off the disc advantage, Edison introduced the Amberol cylinder in 1909, with a maximum playing time of ​4 12 minutes (at 160 rpm), which in turn were superseded by Blue Amberol Records, which had a playing surface made of celluloid, a plastic, which was far less fragile. Despite these improvements, during the 1910s discs decisively won this early format war, although Edison continued to produce new Blue Amberol cylinders for an ever-dwindling customer base until late in 1929. By 1919 the basic patents for the manufacture of lateral-cut disc records had expired, opening the field for countless companies to produce them. Analog disc records would dominate the home entertainment market until they were outsold by the digital compact disc in the late 1980s (which was in turn supplanted by digital audio recordings distributed via online music stores and Internet file sharing).

Other Languages
العربية: قرص فونوغراف
Bân-lâm-gú: Khek-pôaⁿ
Deutsch: Schallplatte
español: Disco de vinilo
Esperanto: Gramofondisko
한국어: 축음기 음반
Հայերեն: Ձայնապնակ
Bahasa Indonesia: Perekam suara
íslenska: Hljómplata
italiano: Disco in vinile
עברית: תקליט
ქართული: გრამფირფიტა
Latina: Phonodiscus
latviešu: Skaņuplate
Lëtzebuergesch: Schallplack
Limburgs: Grammofoonplaat
magyar: Hanglemez
македонски: Грамофонска плоча
Bahasa Melayu: Piring hitam
Nāhuatl: Vinillahualli
Nederlands: Grammofoonplaat
日本語: レコード
norsk nynorsk: Grammofonplate
português: Disco de vinil
Runa Simi: Ruqyay phiruru
Simple English: Gramophone record
slovenščina: Gramofonska plošča
српски / srpski: Грамофонска плоча
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Gramofonska ploča
Türkçe: Plak
Tiếng Việt: Đĩa than
粵語: 黑膠唱碟
中文: 黑膠唱片