After the success of the Remington “Fuzzaway” and the Ronco “Buttoneer”, LPs were ripe for the pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap treatment. Companies like K-Tel and Ronco tempted major labels into licensing original chart hits (unlike the old cover version collections such as Top Of The Pops), and the budget compilations sold by the shed load. And then the brainwave: we’ve sold them the albums, can we also sell them a storage system to keep them in? The answer was “Yes!”, and the K-Tel “Record Selector” was born.
This device allowed you to flick through your albums automatically. TV ads showed LPs mysteriously sorting themselves. “Runs fast OR slow! Stops automatically! Finger Touch Starting!”. As always the reality was more mundane: a black plastic rack, a set of grippers and a half a dozen rubber feet for the base. Setting it up was easy peasy. Albums were wedged into the grippers, linked by catches. Pull the front album towards you, the catch brought the next forward, until all twenty four albums had whizzed by. Once the palpitations had died down you could master advanced features. Like stopping it in mid-flow and removing an album to play. And, er, that’s it. Returning the album you’d chosen was even more exciting. Set the Selector in motion, and it stopped – automatically – at the empty place.
Launched in the UK in 1973, collectors should also look for the 1976 relaunch in a redesigned box. Renamed the “Disc-O-Selector”, the box showed off a more sophisticated selection of LPs, ranging from Simon & Garfunkel, through Perry Como and Mahler’s Greatest Hits, to Ray Conniff. However it seems as if the idea began much earlier, and an American site mentions the device being available there in 1964. The later American boxes were also much smaller. So much to look out for!
There is mention of a “Cassette-O-Selector” in a 1977 article but I’ve never sen one of those.
Most “Disc-O-Selectors” ended up in that great land-fill site in the sky, but examples do sometimes turn at car-boots. Just don’t forget to “moisten the tips and screw into all four corners….”