Monday, October 08, 2012
Howard H. Scott - RIP
Consumer record players of that era couldn't play them. PVC is too soft for phonograph play with a standard steel needle. Even those high end electric players that did spins at 22.3 rpm, didn't do so at an adequately constant speed causing very notable pitch variations. In short, sales sucked and RCA gave up in 1934. Columbia picked up the baton. By December 1939, Columbia was using 16-inch, 33.3 RPM transcription disc masters for all it's master recordings. They had stretched the disc to hold 15 minutes per side. It doesn't sound like much, but remember an Edison cylinder held just over a minute, and 78s just around 3 minutes. This was four times as long! By 1947 they had squeezed out 22 minutes per side. In 1948, with the variable groove they broke the 30 minute barrier.
Howard H. Scott was only 26 years old at the time and not as technical as the rest of the staff but he was the crucial man in the dubbing process. These first long-play records were spliced together from old 78 rpm and shorter 33.3 rpm masters. This required playing overlapping recordings and toggling the input from turntable to turntable. Scott cued the start and snapped his fingers conducting the technicians manual adjustments. His music education and background made him the ideal man. He went on to be a staff producer at Columbia and later an executive manager at MGM. In the 1990s he worked at Sony overseeing CD transfers. He died on Sept. 22, he was 92. More here.