Few inventions are as useful or as elegantly simple as the “centering device for phonographic records” or put more plainly, the 45 adaptor. We have upwards of 200,000 45s here at the ARChive, and since people often just left them in their 45s, we have accumulated a rather nice collection of these little wafers over the years. What follows is a little gallery of a few that I could put my hands on quickly.
Let’s start, though, where everyone else does, the Wikipedia entry for “Gramophone Record.” It gets into RCA’s development and 1949 release of the 45. It says the following about the adaptor:
RCA 45s were […] adapted to the smaller spindle of an LP player with a plastic snap-in insert known as a “spider”. These inserts, commissioned by RCA president David Sarnoff and invented by Thomas Hutchison, were prevalent starting in the 1960s, selling in the tens of millions per year during the 45’s heyday.
This may or may not be true — I cannot find any evidence to support the claim. Given the competition between vinyl formats in the late 1940s, it seems odd that RCA would have marketed a product that essentially encouraged record collectors to buy anything other than RCA-made turntables. (Who else was manufacturing 45rpm turntables at that time, anyway?) Wikipedia’s dates seem a bit off as well – a little late.
Below left is what I think was probably the first record adaptor made and marketed in the US (click on the image for a larger view). It was invented by Frank A. Jansen (the patent, #2585622, was applied for in 1949 and issued in 1952) and marketed by the Webster-Chicago Corporation. (The reverse side reads “Patent Applied For.) On the right is the “Snap-It” from the Kay Music Co. of New York. It says “Pat. Pend.” but I could not find its patent (however, patent #2693364, filed in 1950, issued 1954 for an adaptor invented by Norman Chalfin might be related – I can’t really say):
Next up are a couple of sort of unusual plastic ones. The one on the left is marked “KPL 1/2” and “6/3” and because it’s triangular seems sort of similar to the kind that Rudolph Flötgen invented [#2932521, app. 1955; its the one below, middle]); the one on the right with the bicycle spokes (more of a BMX-type mag wheel, really) was made by Morse Manufacturing Co. Inc. :
These are nice and all, but the most famous molded plastic adaptors look like this and are often marked “Recoton”:
This is the kind you see all over t-shirts nowadays – as if it were the only 45 adaptor ever invented! There’s a pretty good history of the Recoton company here and as business histories go, it’s a fascinating read. Anyhow, it appears that the molded plastic insert was invented by James L. D. Morrison for the Voice of Music corporation of Benton Harbor, Michigan. (Maybe they had some relationship with RCA?) The patent (#2712943) was filed in 1951 and issued in 1955. On the left is the patent image, alongside two later, somewhat similar examples manufactured by others. The grey one is unmarked, the cool red one (looking like a fireball) was made by Philco:
That’s it for now. No, it’s not a comprehensive history, but it is enough information to impress your friends and acquaintances at cocktail parties and what not.
May be post this on our vinyl-specific site (www.vpsidaho.org)?
At the Vinyl Preservation Society of Idaho, our unofficial motto is “an independent social recreation enterprise dedicated to communal listening enjoyment.”
VPS Idaho is an outgrowth of the shared passion for music of two brothers, Travis and Chad Dryden of Boise, who spend a lot of time together in a basement rec room drinking whiskey and beer while spinning records and talking about music. They both suck at performing music (neither advanced beyond beginner guitar lessons), but they consider themselves professional listeners.
Check us out and let us know if you’d like to see your article on our site.
Well, we’d rather you not reproduce the article, but if you want to link to this page on your “Articles from around the Web” page, feel free!
Hello & thanks for the information on a, sadly, much neglected subject.
Being German, for me it was educative especially because I learned that the average US citizen’s concept of a 45 adapter is a different one from that of people here – which may also be interesting to you: To me and most people around me, an average adapter looks like the triangular one left to the Flötgen design, while I might not have recognized the one depicted in the tatoo in that one story. Actually, never saw the ones that are “normal” to “you” … one of those crazy little differences, in a Pulp Fiction kinda way. BTW the Flötgen one, AFAIK, was not a snap-in adapter but built-in into a lot of 45s (like they also did in the UK) and if a record was going to be used in a jukebox (or one of those early vinyl days 45-only turntables) people would break it out to reveal the “large” hole.
Thanks so much for the info. I had seen someone with a necklace of silver in the shape of the 45 Adapter. I remember using them, but I had no idea what it was called or who invented it. Now I’m on a hunt to find someone who sells this type of jewlery! I love Music…
This one’s made of vinyl! http://www.thegiantpeach.com/vling-recycled-vinyl-45adapter-necklace-black.aspx
Thanks for the information, I’m an avid phonograph fan and have been researching (and buying) them for over 10 years now!
If you bend the tabs of a standard Recoton adaptor about 20 degrees and launch it horizontally (tabs DOWN and facing BACKWARDS relative to the spin) with a rubber band on the notch it can sail over 100 feet or at least the length of the inside of a typical Tower Records store, now defunct. The key is getting the spin relatively slow while the launch speed is relatively high. This is accomplished by aligning the rubber band almost directly over the center of the disc. Left or right handed, it doesn’t matter.
My name is Funatu and I’m a chief editor of a music magazine called Wax Poetics Japan.
This magazine is issued and sold in Japan.
I read your article about the 45 adaptor and thought it was amazing.
I would like to contain translated version of the article on the next issue of Wax Poetics Japan which will be issued on November 30th.
Could I use the article and the picture on it?
If it is possible, I would like to pay you $200 as a use fee.
I hope you will be interested in my idea and hope to hear from you soon.
A great feature and history. Anyone with an interest even in todays music should pay they’re respects to the start of popular music culture… the 7″ 45 and it core helper… the 45 adapter.
45 Central has 10 special designs :
Please get in touch, would be intrested in working on a major printed editorial for a major magazine or newspaper.
I’m a translator of a magazine Wax Poetics Japan.
Like the chief editor of the magazine commented above, Wax Poetics Japan crew really like your article and want to contain it on the next issue of the magazine.
It is such an amazing article! People need to recognize the importance of the 45 adaptors.
In order to contain your article on the next issue, we need your response as soon as possible.
Hope you will notice this comment soon.
What about the 45’s that could not use the adaptor that the middle hole was drilled off line so the movement of the pickup was swaying not static, Does anybody know what the ingraving in the run off is just before the pickup leaves the disc. i recall one named “Strawberry” and some others, nothing said anywhere else that i have found.
Very informative article. Was curious about one thing: The Recoton one, who’s image is everywhere…does someone own the copyright to the image?
Simply becauase I would love to use the image on my website and project, but not sure that’s allowed.
I believe the last company in possession of the rights to the Recoton line of audio products was Audiovox. Here is a link to their site:
My comment earlier in this blog about making the adaptors fly came from experimentation during my years with Tower Records. We sold thousands of them along with a ton of Recoton products.
Idle clerks are the devil’s playthings.
I noticed the Recoton adaptor you have pictured here is red. The ones we sold at Tower Records by the box were always yellow. They probably were more popular than the metal ones because they sold 2 for 25 cents or 10 for a dollar. Maybe they weren’t Recoton. In over 20 years of selling music there I never heard anyone refer to them as a spider.
I have appx. 30 Recoton adapters, and they are all yellow. The two red ones I have look like the patent sketch, and are not Recoton. My only metal one is a Webster-Chicago product, given to me by a neighbor. One thing nobody seems to mention is how difficult those Webster-Chicago adapters were to use. My neighbor warned me about that, but did I listen? Of course not, and I have a chipped 45 to prove it. Once they went in, they were very difficult to remove. Needless to say, I don’t use that adapter anymore.
I always assumed that the metal ones were permanent. Almost impossible to get out once they were in properly. And the Recoton ones really do fly well. Bend the tabs towards one side and sling it with a rubber band, they would go the length of the store.
It was a busy night and a customer steps up to the register and asks, ‘How much is one adaptor?’. I tell him it’s two for a quarter plus 2 cents tax. He argues about it for a while and finally says ‘OK’. He half glances at his wallet and says ‘I don’t have any money’. I ask him to please step aside for the customers behind him. ‘Oh wait, I have my credit card’. So I reach out for his credit card and he takes it back. ‘You’re going to force me to use my credit card for 27 cents?!?’. I point out they are not free but he keeps arguing about forcing him to use his credit card for a 27 cent sale. I remind him that I am not forcing him to do anything except buy the product or let someone else buy theirs. He left disgusted that I wouldn’t give him the adaptors for free.
I miss working there.
The patent picture looks more like the ones that I have that are made of some sort of fibre – tougher than cardboard, but not quite wood. These probably date from the 50’s, as they came to me via my Mom’s 45’s.
Thanks for this info! I have some of the Webster Chicago 45 RPM adapters, and wondered about them. Your post was very helpful.
good programme.send me a messege.
heres a nice companion to your article
Excellent article. Can you tell me how to remove the metal Webster-Chicago adapter from the hole of the 45?
@Bob -You have to slide the adapter to the side and then it should pop out quite easily.
Hey just saw your question. Have no idea – we’ve never tried. B.
I have one of the Jansen adapters and the reverse side reads “PATENT APPLIED FOR 6C”
Does anyone know if anyone owns the copywright on the image of the common Recton?
A top read, great feature and history. Anyone with an interest even in todays music should pay they’re respects to the start of popular music culture… the 7″ 45 and it core helper… the 45 adapter.
45 Central has 10 special designs:
Please get in touch, would be intrested in working on a major printed editorial for a major magazine or newspaper.
A top read, great feature and history. Anyone with an interest even in todays music should pay they’re respects to the start of popular music culture… the 7″ 45 and its core helper… the 45 adapter.
’45 Central’ has 10 special designs for every 45 player:
Please get in touch, we would be intrested in working on a major printed editorial for a major magazine or newspaper.
My daughter found two Webster-Chicago inserts in a old consol TV/record player/radio. They are the ones with the patent applied for ones, 2c and 3c. They are really cool.
Hi – does anyone know how to remove the Webster metal adapters from a 7″ record without breaking the record? Bought some old vinyl this weekend with several of the adapters in place and was hoping to extract them safely, but all attempts have so far failed, with one record sacrificed in the attempt.. any help much appreciated!
No ideas – and we’re afraid to try…
Hope you manage to remove them from your records – we have no idea!
Once your records are free from the Webster ‘ruining’ adapters, we recommend trying 45 Central product range…
’45 Central’ has 10 special designs inc the new 45 Stax
The Hutchison story is at least partially true. There already were 45rpm adapters on the market when General Sarnoff contacted Mr. H. What RCA had in mind, and Hutchison delivered, was an improved adapter. It had small raised pegs called “drive pins” which would interlock to ensure the record played at the proper speed without slippage.