Always keeping a look out for things 12” and round, this turned up in a box of ‘all 50p’ 78s a couple of years ago. It turns out to be a 12” disc which you could record on yourself, a format I’d not heard of before. The disc itself seems to be fragile, a bit like the shellac plastic used for 78s (one of mine has a couple of small breaks visible). Onto this is bonded an oxide coating layer with guide grooves – the same sort of coating as you get on tapes. By using a conventional looking but special record player, any input could be captured then played back. The player arm also had a device to magnetically erase any previous recording if you wished to reuse the disc (or you could use a special magnetic bar to ‘wipe’ the recording).
There are few places out there who can access these discs, but Poppy Records offer a service. On the two discs I found one says ‘Nancy” on the cover, the other disc says ‘Zoo’ on the label, but the risk of sending them through the post puts me off finding out.
The orange and blue packaging is great, really bright and very Fifties design wise, with the famous Pye logo in the centre. My two discs both have different label designs. The same cover pattern appears on the instruction booklet.
Launched around 1956 I do not know how long it was marketed for, most references suggest it was phased out in the late 1950s. I suspect people preferred the better value for money, flexibility and recording quality of reel to reel (and before long cassette) tape.
A similar technology was also developed in Germany by Telefunken but they used a fixed speed where Pye offered the standard speeds as on regular vinyl, but recommended you use the fastest speed for best quality.
There is an example of the machine and technology on display at the Pye Exhibition at Cambridge Museum of Technology, which I’d not heard of before but looks one to schedule a visit to. There is also one in the Science Museum collection but they probably stole it from Bradford like much else.