Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Flexi-Disc Flexible Record R.I.P.


Admittedly I'm six years too late with my eulogy, but why didn't anyone tell me that Flexi-Discs ceased production in 2000?  For those who might not remember, Flexi-Discs were records pressed into thin, flexible vinyl.  They were really cheap, faster to produce than conventional records, and their form factor meant that you could include a flexi in a magazine or book with little trouble.

Evatone created Flexi-Discs (calling them "Soundsheets") in 1960 making them available for direct mail campaigns (famously used by Ronald Reagan in his 1966 bid for governor of California), insertion into books (I've got a set included with a book on Yamaha DX-7 programming - like I'm ever going to do that), even distribution of software (you'd transfer the flexi to tape, then load the program into your computer).

For what they are, the fidelity isn't too bad.  Their light weight can make them slip on a turntable, so many flexi's have a space for taping on a penny - sorta lo-fi & DIY.  I have a ton of these, many of them especially interesting because they're usually esoteric, and were designed to be disposable.  Pictured is a record with installation instructions for a faucet, prayers & bible stories, Time Life's intro to Beethoven (terrified me as a kid) a Commodore 64 music demo, a Spiro Agnew speech, McDonald's contest, and more.

This came up recently as a musician friend of mine was asking me for advice on creating a unique single.  I suggested issuing a soundsheet, and that's when I learned that Evatone stopped making them in 2000.  You'd think that if they continued all the way into 2000 (well after demand must have bottomed out), they'd never stop.  Was it (gulp) a Y2K problem?

If any of you out there know of any other companies making Flexi-Discs, I'd appreciate a mention in the comments section.  Thanks!

More info from the mavens at WMFU
Q&A about Flexi's
McDonald's direct mail flexi (lower right in picture)


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