10) Adapters – The Rare and Unusual


So here’s a page that I’ll discuss all the “others”. As the record industry grew, companies were forced to address the 33, 45 and 78 speed issues, replay issues and a host of other things. As a result, there were some interesting and unique products were developed. These may not all be “adapters”, but they all have something to do with playing the records in one way or another. Here I hope to unearth some of these unusual items.
 


From roughly the 1900’s to the 1960’s, 78’s were clearly the mainstream media for music. As the 45’s and 33’s became more popular, people had to figure out how to play the various speed records. If someone invested their life savings (in those days) for a state of the art 78 player, what happens if they could not afford to purchase a new player capable of playing the other speeds? Well, Zenith came up with an answer for that. It’s the Zenith Cobra Micro-Adapter. This was actually quite an ingenious invention that addressed this very issue. I was very lucky to find this as these are quite rare, especially in this condition.
Zenith - box

 
In an advertisement, Zenith described this unit as follows:

“Here’s the adapter your customers are looking for. It’s small, compact, fits inside the phonograph compartment, sits on top of the cabinet and reproduces the new 7 inch 33.3 and 45 with the superb tone quality of the world famous Cobra tone arm. That’s because the latest Zenith triumph includes a specially designed MiICRO COBRA. It’s amazingly light needle pressure make possible perfect tracking on 7-inch thereby assuring the ultimate in tone quality and virtually eliminating record wear”.

 
 
Zenith - unit
 
Here’s some of the packaging labeling.

Zenith - side

back row 1b

 
How this worked was quite interesting. This adapter would sit on top of the 78 platter. The hole on one end of the adapter would fit onto the spindle of the record player. There was a rubber wheel at the bottom of this adapter that would spin as the platter below it spun. The speed of the adapter platter would depend on how far the rubber wheel was from the center of the spindle. There was a switch on top of the adpater that allowed you to switch from 45 to 33. By flipping the switch, the rubber wheel would move either further or closer to the spindle which thus changed the speed of the turning platter on the adapter. Here are pictures of the top and bottom of the adapter. It may help better explain what I’m discussing.

top and bottom
 

It’s my understanding that only certain (probably Zenith Cobra) record players could accept this adapter because its got a miniature cobra arm, and the cartridge is wired so that you can plug it in to the cartridge on the larger tone arm. Very interesting!
 


It took me a while to figure out exactly what this red “thing” really was. It wasn’t until I tied together the name on it (Philco) to the Philco adapters that I have been collecting that it all came together…literally. I now realize why the Philco adapters had all those holes in it. To eliminate the problem of too many stacked records spinning on each other due to lack of friction, Philco came up with this adapter that would fit onto the turntable. In turn, if using the Philco adapters, the adapters would slide onto the post sticking up and prevent the 45’s from spinning. Here’s a picture of both the adapter by itself and with a Philco adapter attached to it.

Philco Pat Pend row 1

 


This is a rather rare 3″ cardboard adapter from 1953. This came with a Zenith 24 record, ultra-microgroove audio book set of the complete New Testament. The set came with 7″ records played at 16 rpm and had an unusual 3″ hole. This adapter came with the set to allow users to play the records on any standard record player. The ultra-microgroove records had much finer grooves (or “lines” as they called them) than ordinary microgroove records, so using the correct needle was important.

zenithab row 1

 


This is probably the smallest adapter that I’ve come across. It measures only around 9/16″ wide. It’s an adapter that comes with the VinylDisc. I go into more detail about this record format in the History of Record Formats section, but it’s basically a hybrid CD and vinyl phonograph record. One side is a normal CD while the other is a vinyl record. Since the CD has a larger opening than a normal record, this small adapter is placed in the center so that it can then be played on a normal record player or turntable.

vd row 1

 


Ok, ok…I know this isn’t a “record” adapter, but c’mon, admit it…YOU HAD ONE OF THESE! I was probably one of the rare people that preferred 8-track tapes to cassettes. I really didn’t like the idea of flipping a tape over (at least before they came out with reversible cassettes) so I stuck with my 8-tracks as long as I could. When I eventually made the move to cassettes, this was the first step in my ever so gradual move. They actually worked quite well. I guess I felt less guilty switching to cassettes using this still I still used my 8-track player. So to all of you who stuck with 8-tracks through thick and thin, this adapter is for you! …and PS, thank you Radio Shack for all the cool gadgets you came out with over the years!

8 track adapter row 1

 


These next two items are REALLY fun. To be honest, I never knew they even existed. Although they look completely different, they serve the same purpose…to repeat a record. I think we’ve gotten pretty spoiled with our iPods and Android phones. Simply hit Repeat, and away we go. Back in the day, things weren’t quite so easy. These next two items are interesting, early low-tech solutions for playing a record repeatedly. These allowed unassisted repeating of the record until the spring motor wound down (to put it in today’s terms, that’s code for the battery running out). While decidedly low tech, these devices work nicely, and are an interesting early attempt to get over the 3 min limitation of a 10″ disk. This first one is a Gold Seal Phonograph Repeater. To be honest, it’s made cheaply of celluloid and I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to get the pink version. Looking at these, you’ll have a difficult time figuring out how these work. Instead of me trying to explain how they work, I found some YouTube video’s that do a great job in showing you instead.
 
Click HERE to see how this first one works. (Rich, thanks for letting me link to you video.)

Gold Seal row 1b

Gold Seal row 2

 

This next repeater is an Encore Repeater. Looking at this, you wouldn’t think that it was in any way related to the repeater above. It’s an interesting variation of the floating repeater and instead of using the spiral throwback, a worm gear is linked to the spindle, allowing the repeater to gently travel back. I find this one extremely interesting.
 
Click HERE to see how this one works. (Thanks Grikor for letting me link to you video.)

encore row 1

 


I always think of these as the anti-adapters. It’s almost like the exact opposite as a typical 45 adapter. While most adapter focus on the center hole, these focus on the outside diameter. The adapter shown on the left is an AMI 45 RPM conversion adapter – also known as a blue ring. These were used in AMI 40 select jukeboxes that were manufactured to play 78 RPM records. When “single” records started to convert from the 10″ 78 RPM records to the 7″ 45 RPM records, it was pretty clear that the jukeboxes could not easily accept the size change. To compensate for that, these blue rings were developed. They would essentially change a 7″ record to a 10″ record. I don’t know enough about jukeboxes to tell you how they handled the change in speed issue, but they obviously did. The adapter on the right is clearly a more modern one, but it pretty much does the same thing. It takes a mini 3″ CD, and converts it to a standard size CD. Thought I would add this since they are two examples of pretty much doing the same thing.

ring adapter row 1

 


4 Comments

  1. Hi – Where I can buy some VinylDisc centre hole adapters? i.e like foam or rubber made washer – externally 15mm or 9/16″ (0.591″) and internally 7.26mm or 0.286″
    I got already 2 VinylDiscs now but can’t play their vinyl side. No adapter included, had just standard CD cases for packing.

    • Hi. I had the same problem when I purchased my Vinyl/Disc. I couldn’t find any adapters, so I just went on Discogs and fond a cheap Vinyl/Disc and purchased it. I made sure that it came with the adapter. There’s not much to them. If you know anybody with a 3D printer, one could be made quite easily. I’m a purist though…I needed an original. ha. Good luck to you.

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