Baggy trousers

https://www.discogs.com/release/1340917-Madness-Baggy-Trousers

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My version doesn’t have it, but I found a curious picture on the Discogs entry for this single. Originally, this single came with a piece of plastic that could be inserted in the big hole, to make it small enough for regular record players to fit. That made me question: how many people still had record players that actually fit the big hole?

added inlay

After the Second World War, development of the record player format went fast. The microgroove was developed, allowing much more music on a record. Different materials were used, better recording quality followed soon after. But what stayed is a curious result of an early format war.

Maybe you never noticed, but it is not like 45 rpm is a fraction or a factor of 33 1/3 rpm. It is not like we have 33 1/3 and 66 2/3. What is going on? In short: RCA had developed their own format, and it was not compatible. To make sure it was still usable, record players were equipped with both speeds, and usually an inlay was added to make the hole fit.

RCA record player

The RCA player allowed for multiple single to be added to a stack, and automatically played in succession. That was also the original meaning of the word album: a collection of singles in a album, that could be added to a record player like this and played in succession. It was a different solution to the problem that plagued the industry: how to allow longer play time?

Nice nostalgia trip, but uhm.. why was the plastic inlay added at all? Did record manufacturers still make the old format available? Until the end of the single, the big hole was used. If you know the answer to that, please add it here.

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