The Fascinating History of Vinyl Records

rows of vinyl records at a store

The technology that allows us to listen to our favorite music has changed rapidly over the course of the past few decades. From 8-tracks to CDs to MP3 players, it has become more convenient than ever to enjoy a wide range of artists and bands from anywhere. But before all of these modern inventions, we have vinyl records. The history of vinyl records is rich and fascinating, giving you greater insight into your favorite music medium and how it came to make it into your hands. If you love to learn more about vinyl, let’s take a deep dive into the history of vinyls. 

Before the Vinyl: Phonographs and Gramophones

Before asking the question, “when did vinyl records come out?” it’s important to understand some of the older developments that gradually led to the creation of some of the first records. Arguably two of the most important milestones in the history of vinyl records are phonographs and gramophones. 

Phonographs are far from what vinyls are, but they essentially operate in a similar manner. A device using a needle runs along the grooves of a wax cylinder in order to produce sound via vibration. Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, and Emile Berliner made improvements to this concept only a decade later. This is when we start to see a hint of what the vinyl record would become. 

Rather than using a wax cylinder to get the job done, the gramophone instead relied on a lateral, hard rubber disc that sat on a flat plate. This would eventually inspire the modern vinyl record as we know it. Berliner created what collectors called 78s, which could store approximately three to five minutes of sound on each side of the disc. These were originally made of shellac, but this material soon became too difficult to obtain during WWII. As a result, 78s soon were made out of vinyl. 

So, when were vinyl records invented? It was soon after this that the history of vinyl records started to take shape. 

When Did Vinyl Records Come Out? The Creation of Modern Records in the 30s

RCA was the first company to introduce vinyl records as we know them. Instead of 78s, these records had a playback speed of 331/3 RPM and were much larger in diameter. This made it possible to store more sound so that consumers would be able to enjoy more music. Other companies like Columbia started to compete as well, resulting in long plays as well as short plays (7-inch, 45 RPM records). 

Of course, as most record enthusiasts well know, the history of vinyl records wouldn’t keep resulting in further innovation. Once the introduction of other musical mediums came to be, vinyl wasn’t as prominent as it used to be. The development of cassette tapes in the 70s made music much more portable, especially with devices like Sony’s Walkman. After that, the rest is history. Tapes became CDs, CDs became digital files, and now we’re able to listen to music anywhere. 

But while vinyl records may be a product of the past, that doesn’t mean that they stayed there. 

The History of Vinyl Records: When Did Vinyl Records Make a Comeback?

Now that we’ve covered questions like, “when were vinyl records invented?” it’s important to look at how and why vinyl records came back into the mainstream. 2008 is the agreed-upon date in the resurgence of vinyl record purchases, and the love for vinyl records has continued to grow since then. While there’s no one reason why vinyl records are once again popular, there are several theories. This includes a better sound experience, the collectability of the records themselves, and more. Whatever the reason, this continued love for vinyl records ensures that the history of vinyl records will flourish as more and more people discover the sound vinyl has to offer. 

Preserve Your Vinyls With Big Fudge

Every vinyl is a piece of history, and keeping yours protected over time is essential. But where do you begin? Big Fudge offers a wide range of high-quality products for your vinyl collection, including items like vinyl cleaning products and vinyl storage. We’re also dedicated to your experience as you build your collection, offering exceptional customer service, a great price-to-quality ratio, and more. Are you ready to make sure that you’re equipped with all the tools and materials you need to protect your vinyl collection over time? If so, shop Big Fudge now to discover some of the essentials that every vinyl record enthusiast should have for a superior record experience.