Portable Music: The Early Years – A Turntable for Your Car
We are all so accustomed to being able to take our music with us wherever we go that the thought of being without it may come as a shock to the youngsters out there. 'Tis true, we weren't always as mobile with our sounds as we are now, but that didn't mean the idea wasn't there. Au contraire!
Let's look back to 1956 then, shall we? There were no cassettes or 8-track tapes, obviously no CDs ... and digital media? Hell, this was even pre-Jetsons, so the fantasy wasn't even born. There were, however, a couple of forward thinkers at Columbia, and in 1956 -- the year Elvis broke down the door to the future -- they began offering portable record players made for your car.
The newfangled mobile entertainment was offered up as an option by Chrysler Motors for their Dodge, DeSoto and Plymouth models. The player was made to play 45RPM 7-inch vinyl records, and featured a slide out turntable device that was mounted under the dashboard.
Looking like a modified dashboard, the player would slide out to reveal the turntable. With a simple flip of a switch, you could go from lo-fi AM radio to low-fi record player! Even Lawrence Welk had one!
Obviously, though hearts and ears may have been in the right place, a quick reality check was overlooked, for when the car in question would go about your average drive, the bumps in the road would, obviously, make the record skip. Hard to believe they didn't see that one coming. There was also another hitch. According to Cnet, an exclusive "content arrangement" with Columbia meant that drivers could listen only to artists signed to Columbia Records. We're still not sure how that would have worked.
The record player option was short-lived, lasting only one year. It was revived for the 1960 Plymouth with a similar model, but failed to gain any momentum. Obviously, we have come a long way since those days. The guy who thought up the turntable in a car would probably gasp in wonder at what has become of portable music over the years.
We salute him for giving it a go back in 1956.