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Old 11th Nov 2017, 12:09 am   #1
Dai Corner
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Default When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

I was having a discussion about gramophone records earlier and somebody asked when 16 2/3 rpm records became obsolete.

Obviously there isn't a simple answer to this but does anywhere know when they stopped being made and when turntables that could play them stopped being produced? Was their demise due to the rise of the cassette tape?
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 12:39 am   #2
paulsherwin
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

They were never mainstream. Manufacturers of record decks supported that speed because it added no manufacturing cost given that they had to support 33 and 45 (and 78). I have never personally seen a 16 record, and I'm 62 now.
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 2:08 am   #3
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

Were they not just plastic sheets with advertising on them?
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 5:55 am   #4
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

Weren't they used for talking books?
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 7:09 am   #5
Dai Corner
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

Yes I think so, and speech recordings in general. I presume the longer playing time in return for lower audio quality was considered appropriate for speech but not for music.
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 7:28 am   #6
Neil Purling
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

I believe the speed was used for in-store promotional material. I don't know if you could get decent music from that speed but good enough?
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 8:18 am   #7
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

A bit of information on this web page, it still doesn’t really answer the question though. There is a reference to a Miles Davis Record made in the 16 2/3 format and a link to the Seeburg 1000 web site for background music.
http://bloggerhythms.blogspot.co.uk/...m-records.html

Edit, note the section on “HiFi Highway”.
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 8:29 am   #8
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

I thought language teaching discs were common at this speed.
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 3:48 pm   #9
dave walsh
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

Not common perhaps but certainly tried out. We were told in the sixties that it was a speech speed, roughly comparable perhaps to 1.75 ips on tape but I never saw one then? Nonetheless slowing your LP's down to 16 helped a lot with learning Guitar "licks", not that I was much good at it . I even had a tutorial LP where you were advised to re-play some sections at 16 instead of 33! There are lots of 16 rpm threads on here but not directly specific to Dai's question. Some address the ORIGIN of the 16 rpm speed, sometimes linking it to the film industry and the developement of optical sound. People often ask are there any records around that play at 16 rpm? Well of course, they all do

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Old 11th Nov 2017, 9:03 pm   #10
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

I've also wondered about 16rpm records. I've been collecting records for around 40 years. In that time, I've collected some obsolete media such as 10" shellac 78 and 80rpm records, 8 track cartridge tapes and a couple of pre-recorded MiniDisc titles, yet I've never come across a 16 2/3 rpm record. I knew they must have existed, since in the past I've had record players with a speed 16, and people have mentioned talking books have been published on 16rpm records. But having never actually come across a 16rpm record myself, it intrigued me.

Now we have the Internet, it's a lot easier to research things like this. And the results surprised me. Both speech and music titles and experimental 16rpm records have been made, some very recently. A quick search on Discogs gives around 400 results:
https://www.discogs.com/search/?form...+%E2%85%94+RPM

For example, there is the talking book "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1958 : https://www.discogs.com/Robert-Louis...lease/10390568

There are some long-playing music compilations, like this one: https://www.discogs.com/Various-Danc...lease/10487707

and this one which claims to have 1.5 hours of non-stop music on one disc : https://www.discogs.com/Various-CBS-...lease/10605484

There are newer releases too. This one made in 2016 : https://www.discogs.com/Kristian-Pou...elease/8966563

and an experimental multi-speed record from 2017: https://www.discogs.com/LCDD-A-Todas...elease/9982882

So, in fact, 16 2/3 rpm records are still being made in small quantities and are therefore not obsolete! Well, not yet, anyway, though they are not exactly mainstream either.

As I said earlier, I've been intrigued about 16rpm records, having never actually owned one. Now I've found more information about them, I'm quite surprised about what is available. I've no idea about how good the music titles sound when played - I always thought that 16rpm records were considered too low quality for music use, and that was why they never became popular. Perhaps I'll have to buy one and try it
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Old 11th Nov 2017, 9:09 pm   #11
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
They were never mainstream. Manufacturers of record decks supported that speed because it added no manufacturing cost given that they had to support 33 and 45 (and 78). I have never personally seen a 16 record, and I'm 62 now.
I've never seen one either. I was fascinated by the 16 speed on my 1972 Christmas present Dansette Bermuda that was roughly 10 years old at the time. I bothered the local record shops and radio / TV repair businesses and none of them had ever seen a 16 record.
Indeed, I've never come across one at any jumble sale, car boot sale or radio related sale since.

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Old 12th Nov 2017, 2:14 pm   #12
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

I know our mid 60's Garrad deck had a 16 speed. Did they use the normal stylus
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Old 12th Nov 2017, 2:38 pm   #13
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

I saw records for that speed at my old school, and yes they were used for teaching foreign languages. IIRC they were no longer used at that school in the mid 1970s, but may have been used not long before.

I have also heard, but can not substantiate, that they were used for long playing but basic quality background music in shops and workplaces.

I believe that a unit was available that played a record over a PA system, and then when the record finished, automatically reverted to playing a radio broadcast over the same system.
Popular during the war in factories. Entertainment from a suitable record, followed by the war news via radio.
I don't know what RPM records were used in these systems, but 16 sounds likely for a long playing, lo-fi system.

Long after feature films had optical or magnetic sound as an integral part of the film, cinema newsreels did not.
Newsreels were not of course shown in silence, but the sound came on a "special" record that was distributed with the film and played in the cinema.
Would these "special" records have been 16 RPM ?
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Old 12th Nov 2017, 6:38 pm   #14
dave walsh
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

That cinema link is the sort of thing I referred to in post 9* broadgage. I think it was a thread from 2014 re 16 rpm

It wouldn't have been a special stylus avo! Four speed RP's didn't seem to have any special guidance re 16 rpm. It would just have been listed in the "instructions" along with the other formats. Someone may differ though! That was my "joke" at the end of the previous post in a way-as anything COULD be played at 16 [just as a very slow version] we assumed it would be a "normal" stylus at 16 as well. [if an actual 16 rpm record ever turned up that is].
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 1:15 pm   #15
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

My late Aunt had a set of Linguaphone 16rpm language records in the 1950's, 1 set for French, the other for German.

She was a PA for a bank in London and had French & German clients and being fluent in those languages was essential.

I remember my school had a full range of Linguaphone records in many languages but, the most popular language in my year was French, although before you could take them out (1 week max), you had to take your stylus in (to be checked by the Science Dept) and only if it was ok could you take them out.

I always got bored listening to them and it wasn't until I read a book called: "Let's Parler Franglais" by Miles Kington written in a concoction of everyday French/English and in humorous settings did I grasp French !

I see that Linguaphone are still a viable company but the formats are now CD & MP3
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 2:34 pm   #16
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

I recall listening to my Gran's records of Churchill's speeches, at 16 rpm, in the 60s ! Very evocative in those days, and even now I would think.


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Old 13th Nov 2017, 6:47 pm   #17
Peter.N.
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

The only ones I have seen were in the '50s and they were language course recordings.

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Old 13th Nov 2017, 7:09 pm   #18
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

There was/is a Rugby Songs LP which has the 'naughty' words bleeped out throughout the album.

On one track however (The engineer told me before he died), the track is recorded at 16RPM without any bleeps so that when played at 33RPM it just gives a squeaky noise but when played at 16RPM the naughty words are there.

That is the only 16RPM track I have ever heard. The bandwidth seemed very restricted to me though.
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 7:22 pm   #19
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

In the 1960's I recall listening to a set of 16 RPM 7" discs of Ludwig Koch's birdsong recordings. I think they they came with an accompanying booklet.
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Old 13th Nov 2017, 7:28 pm   #20
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Default Re: When Did 16 2/3 rpm Records Become Obsolete?

The Collaro autochanger on Dad's circa 1956 radiogram has only 3 speeds. The similar circa 1959 version on my school's record player was 4 speed, but AFAIR, only LP's ( recordings of things like Shakespeare's plays) and 45's (at the school disco) were ever played on it. I too have never seen a 16 2/3 disc in the flesh, despite being a regular charity shop record browser.

Re language learning courses using records, it may be of interest to note that the American "International Correspondence Schools" were offering these by 1904, using the "Edison repeating phonograph" that also allowed the student to record his or her own efforts for assessment by the tutor. I don't suppose many of these can have survived today.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf ICS language 1904.pdf (117.8 KB, 3 views)
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