The mainstream formats post-78 that I can think of were:

LP record (10" then 12")
45 RPM single (7" but also a few 45RPM 10" and 12" thru the years here and there)
half-track reel then 2-track reel (actually a niche format as far as numbers sold but highly 
publicised and promoted)
quarter-track reel (7.5IPS and then later on the dreaded 3.75IPS junkola tapes)
4-track cartridge (Muntz and RCA -- were they the same format?)
8-track cartridge (Lear)
Compact Cassette (Philips -- definitely a major-label music format by the very late 60's, I have 
numerous specimens)
Compact Disc
SACD (could be considered a failed/fringe format, but it does still hang on)
Digital downloads (not yet nearly as money-making or even as many units as CD sales, but getting 
there very fast, about to be THE main consumer format)

I wouldn't count fringe/failed formats like Elcaset, DCC and Minidisc (MD failed as a 
consumer-release format but succeeded for a time as a recording format; Elcaset and DCC just plain 

DAT was first envisioned as a consumer-release format and there were a few  titles released by Sony 
and I think Philips, but the copyright-protection nonsense killed the format for consumers. For 
studios and radio, however, it was a successful and long-lived format.

If you want to look at video, the only four formats to be considered anything approaching mainstream 


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, December 31, 2009 2:39 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Media Timeline - Historical Assistance Please

> Hi, Corey,
> The more I hear, the more I want to keep this to my narrow original concept: Formats for CONSUMER 
> DELIVERY (mostly of MUSIC though I accept input regarding Old Time Radio, Talking Books, and a 
> global perspective and I've acceded to pressure to keep the cassette out of the dead zone).
> I don't think there was any significant attempt to sell pre-recorded, commercial (mostly music) 
> recordings in any of the following formats:
> --Recording wires
> --Dictabelts
> --IBM Executary magnetic belts
> --Rim-drive reel machines
> --Rim-drive cassette machines
> --Microcassettes
> --Minicassettes (a subspecies of rim-drive cassettes)
> I am NOT planning on incorporating any of the above. Although their time lines can be of interest 
> in dating historic artifacts, it's beyond the scope of the present project. It was pointed out to 
> me that the death of manufacturing of a product/system by no means is an accurate method for 
> date-ranging of a recording as a frugal field recordist might have stockpiled the fading format 
> and used it far beyond the official termination date. For example, I have a few NOS DCC tapes 
> which I guess I could still use for a field recording (if I were deranged and didn't want to use 
> my file-based digital recorders).
> There are four formats that I'm on the fence about:
> --RCA Sound Tape cartridges
> --Playtape (thanks, Shai)
> --Revere/CBS tape cartridges
> --Elcaset
> What I need to understand is the depth (if any) of offerings in pre-recorded tapes for these 
> formats. I know that at least RCA and CBS issued what amounts to not much more than "sample" 
> recordings in these formats. I have a bunch of the Revere/CBS cartridges that a client gave me 
> after I rescued some family stuff off a few, but that doesn't really count because his Dad had 
> been involved in the marketing of the format.
> I rescued a Sound Tape pre-recorded tape for a friend about eight years ago. It was a Disney or 
> some other children's story and it had never been reissued in any other format that the friend 
> could find even mention of--at least not with the same cast. But how broad was the Sound Tape 
> commercial release?
> I agree with Shai, I do not think there was any significant body of Elcaset commercial releases. I 
> don't know about Playtape. I keep forgetting about it as a format. Apparently many others did, 
> too.
>  but before you say there's a CBS connection, note that the 
> entrepreneur Frank Stanton was not the 
> same Frank Stanton who was President of CBS
> Maybe I need to put Playtape on the list as here is a catalog of 480 tapes in the format
> Cheers,
> Richard
> At 01:24 PM 2009-12-31, you wrote:
>>Would the Micro-cassette be worth mentioning perhaps as a sub-species?  The format is still in 
>>What about the short lived Elcaset?
>>Holiday cheers!
>>Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
> Richard L. Hess                   email: [log in to unmask]
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada       (905) 713 6733     1-877-TAPE-FIX
> Detailed contact information:
> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.