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78rpm Records
Before 1924 recordings came in a variety of sizes, speeds and as either cylinders or disks. There became a need for standardisation and so flat 78rpm (78 revolutions per minute) disks became the norm. Size settled down to 12 inch (30cm), or the more common 10 inch (25cm).
They were made of shellac (very brittle) so care when handling was required - (shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug, on trees in the forests of India and Thailand).

Records, giving personalised entertainment at modest cost, were very popular and over time many households built up large collections of 78rpm records, which were often played on simple wind-up players which had no amplification of the sound.

Picture No 1 compares a 12 inch 78rpm, a 10 inch 78rpm and a 7 inch 45rpm (1971) - the latter made of plastic-vinyl .

Picture No 2 shows a Tanza record with cover, and pieces of a shattered record which shows just how brittle (shellac) 78rpm records were.
Tanza was an acronym of "To assist New Zealand Artists".

Picture No 3 shows a record cover which is a delightful example of the age (1940s?) .

These large, brittle fast spinning 78rpm disks remained the norm until the mid 1950s, when improved materials (plastics) and manufacturing techniques allowed smaller grooves and lower rotation speeds.
Standards for records then became:
7inch @ 45rpm with one or two recorded pieces per side, and
12 inch @ 33rpm with typically 6+ tracks per side. This larger sized disk allowed for much more playing time and were named "Long Play" - this phrase became abbreviated to "LP" which in time became the common term for a 33rpm record.

 
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