Why 78rpm, 45rpm, and 33.3rpm?

Does anyone know why these particular speeds were chosen for phono records? Early on there were 80rpm (one-sided) records, and 16 rpm was used for radio broadcast transcription and speech. I think that the CD sample rate 44.1 KHz has something to do with compatibility with movie frame rate. (The CD rpm varies as the disc plays so as to maintain a constant data rate).
Here's a link Lugnut was kind enough to provide in another thread. http://www.ifrance.com/c-i-f/hificol.html

Not sure about the rest of it but look forward to reading some responses.
Actually, I think the CD sample rate was chosen because (as I understand it) because you need a sampling rate twice the highest frequency recorded. The rate is higher than that, probably to give room for error or some such thing.

As for records, I'm under the impression that there were several different speeds in the "78" era. It was probably a case of doing whatever worked the best for a given company.

I've no idea about the 33.3 and 45 speeds. I have heard that the 33.3 was the Columbia standard, and RCA adapted the 45 RPM speed so that they could have their own format. I wonder, though, if the 33.3 RPM choice might have been made on the basis of playing time--that is, trying to get a 12" record to play for "x" minutes a side.
There is also 16 RPM. You will find some vintage German Dual Turntables that play all four formats....
The answer - at least for 78.26 RPM - goes way back to around 1925, when it was standardized; primarily due to the advent of electrical recording technology by Bell Labs. Prior to that, individual record companies had their own speed standards, ranging from 78 to 82 RPM. Not a consumer problem, since playback machines had speed adjustments.

(RCA)Victor was the big dog then, they were the first customer for the new electrical equipment, and they said 78 RPM was it. Bell thusly declared it a standard. The reason was that a 3600 RPM synchronous motor w/ a 46 tooth worm gear drive resulted in a platter rotation of 78.26088 RPM.

At about the same time, a Bell subsidiary called Western Electric was active. Motion picture "talkies" using their Vitaphone System were developed. The earliest ones had the sound track on a 33.33 RPM disc that was synched with the projector. (Don't ask me how... or what speaker cables were used.) A single 35mm film reel ran for 11 minutes, the 10" 78 ran 3 minutes. ( I believe 12", 4.5 minute 78's came later.) To get the required 11 minutes play time, a speed of 1/2 of 78 was sought. The drive gear was increased to 54 tooth resulting in 33.33 RPM. Disc diameter was increased to 20". (11 minutes on a 20" disc probably had some *serious* levels and groove modulations. I can only imagine what was used for pickups in those times. Probably had a little mistracking here and there... These were still Direct-to-Disc recordings using wax masters.)

This system was soon replaced by the optical soundtrack placed directly on the film. The 33.33 RPM was maintained for recording radio broadcasts until tape recorders appeared in the early '50's (1947 by another account.). I think this is when the disc size went to 16" ("transcription" size).

The 12" 33.33 RPM came about in June 1948 by Columbia Records. With a longstanding rivalry with RCA, these companies had R&D departments in those days. This product was a breakthrough on two fronts. Shellac was replaced by Vinyl (read: unbreakable) and the Microgroove cutting process (read: Long Playing.)

As Jc2000 notes, RCA, clueless and footdragging, introduced in February 1949, the 45 RPM. (Note: 78-33= ...45) A year-long speed war resulted, with record stores facing major inventory problems with now 3 speeds available. RCA caved in early 1950 and bought into the LP model. Columbia, wisely, bought into the 45 RPM format for "singles." I'm guessing they also recognized what was happening with radio broadcasting by this time. The earliest inklings of a "popular" format; radios in automobiles becoming widespread (all-tubed, at that.) Shellac 78's hung on 'till the early-mid 1950's.

The first million-selling "Gold" record was
"Carry Me Back to Old Virginny", Alma Gluck; early 1900's.)
Shasta...Thanks for the very informative comment.
I have (2) 10" Victor 78's, one patented 1904, the other 1908. These are single-sided, with the back containing a label with patent and pricing info. The 1904 one was priced at $1.00 (12 for $10), the 1908 at 60 cents.

The patent info could have been written today, what with the warnings about illegal copying,etc.

Using the Sahr inflation calculator, $1.00 in 1904 was equal to $20.00 in 2002. 60 cents was $12.00 in '02. And this for a single, 3-minute cut. Obviously, the very early days of records was a luxury market. Some things never change...
Great, informative posts, Shasta!

I own an Edison, wind - up, 80 rpm console phonograph and I thought the records were double sided. I guess it would be worth something if I didn't have it in my basement, with barbell plates piled high on it. It was bought at a garage sale, with a bunch of records inside it. Some are pretty cool tunes, including "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp". I may also have "Sunny Italy"(I'll take you back with me, back to sunny Italy...) in there, or is that on 78...

Man, I'd have that phonograph restored and on display. I wonder what they retailed for in their day...

I'm in the process of having my (2) 78's mentioned framed, with a copy of the backside info as an inset. Patent info dating to 1895, another accredited to Emile Berliner... Heavy stuff, to me.

You don't know where you are, 'till you see where you've been...