A brief video history of record manufacturing





gramophone diagram2


From phonograph cylinders to 3D printing, we take a look at record manufacturing through the ages.

So, last week was all about records not made of vinyl. Aside from Radiohead’s “Idioteque” laser-cut into wood, and the Swedish indie band that moulded their new single in ice, we’ve been reminded on the potential of future DIY by Amanda Ghassaei’s 3D printed record after she spoke to us about new forms of record manufacturing that could offer an alternative to centralised vinyl pressing.

Before we get too carried away though, we thought we’d recap 150 years of recording history, collecting a series of videos that tell the story of how records were made at every major juncture. We have a horse in the race too, after all.

The Phonautograph – 1860

The earliest recorded sounds, created by Frenchman Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville using a homemand “phonoautographer” to record a scratchy rendition of “Au Clair de la Lune”.

The Phonograph Cylinder or Edison Cylinder – 1877

The Semper Phonograph Company explain how to make a recording on an Edison cylinder. One for the real analogue purists/fanatics.

Shellac – “Making a Record 1918-1924” (Click on image for British Pathé video)

A fascinating silent film from the exhaustive newsreel company British Pathé that reveals the nuts and bolts of early phonograph record pressing.


“Command Performance” – Record Manufacturing at RCA Victor – 1942

Inside RCA Victor’s pressing plant in 1942 with Milton Cross, charting the creation of wax masters to shellac 78’s.

Vinyl – Early vinyl manufacturing – 1960’s

New material, new technology.

The Vinyl Factory – 2009

Behind the scenes at The Vinyl Factory.

3D Printing – 2013

The fully digitalised process behind Amanda Ghassaei’s ground-breaking 3D printed record.