After World War II, the economy was starting to purr again and a lot of people were buying phonograph records. Although recording equipment and techniques had advanced since the 1920’s in such ways as electronic rather than acoustic microphones and recording to tape instead of direct to disc, the end product, the 78 rpm record, still had the same drawbacks. It was brittle, breakable, and subject to clicks, pops, hisses, damage from misuse, scratches, worn needles, heavy tone arms, etc.
Columbia was developing a more durable twelve-inch record made to fit several songs on each side by using a finer groove (MicroGroove) and a lower speed, 33-1/3 rpm.
(Eddy Arnold and daughter with fancy music system) At the same time, RCA had developed a tougher, higher-fidelity, fine-grooved seven-inch 45 rpm “Vinylite” disc meant for one song on each side, and a special required changer that held up to ten records. These came to market in 1949.
A demonstration record introducing the new format is considered to be the very first 45 rpm record. It was played in stores where the records and players were on display.
But the world’s first two “for sale” 45’s were by Eddy Arnold, The Tennessee Plowboy, and had been very big hits on 78 rpm the year before.
Eddy Arnold’s records that charted in 1948 spent 231 weeks on Billboard’s country charts. Seven songs cracked the Top 30 on the pop charts. Four of his five 78 rpm discs issued in 1948 were double sided hits. Five songs spent a collective forty weeks at #1.
The first commercially available 45 rpm record in history was a double sided #1 gold record. Both sides first charted May 15, 1948 as 78 rpm RCA Victor 20-2806. The A side, “Texarkana Baby”, spent twenty-six weeks on the chart, three weeks at #1. The B side, “Bouquet of Roses”, charted for fifty-four weeks, nineteen weeks at #1. That record, RCA Victor 48-0001, was released as the world’s first 45 rpm record on March 31, 1949.
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