PopCult: The Obsessive Journal of Quality Pop Culture

Stereo Action: introducing the new world of music beyond mono

Imagine living in a world of mono sound—records, movies, radio—and then suddenly having the option to hear music with the three-dimensional depth and scale of stereo reproduction. Add to that the sound-quality benefits of Columbia’s Long-Playing 33 1/3 rpm disc: quiet playback and 22 minutes per side of uninterrupted music.

Experiencing both of those technological leaps for the first time must have been revelatory—a new world of “high fidelity” music that recreated a concert in your own home. It was science fiction made real, just as magazines like Popular Mechanics had promised.

But record labels and electronics companies still had a big job ahead of them in the late 1950s/early 1960s: convincing consumers that these inventions were worth their money. In order to enjoy the benefits of stereo at home, music lovers would have to start all over and buy an entirely new sound system and new records. It was a major investment (and still a recurring cause for complaints to this day whenever a new format is introduced).

Cue the marketing guys. Each record label issued stereo demonstration discs that heralded the advent of this amazing new technology, which sales clerks would play in showrooms to prospective customers or give to buyers so they had something to show off their new rigs. These LPs naturally had to look cool—and attempt to “show” what stereo was all about with thoroughly modern graphics.

Here’s a collection of LPs introducing stereo technology:

Coury Turczyn

Coury Turczyn is a concerned consumer of popular culture. Got an interesting story idea or an amazing financial opportunity to share? Contact him at coury@popcultmag.com.

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