This year marks the 60 year anniversary of the seven inch single, the 45rpm record that was originally introduced by RCA Records back in 1949 with the release of Eddy Arnold's double sided mono record, "Texarkana Baby" b/w "Bouquet of Roses."
The then new format, at first treated by many with a degree of suspicion, was embraced by RCA as a more compact and more durable replacement for the heavy 78rpm shellac-based records -- the ones known as wax records that would break into many pieces if dropped on the ground.
After witnessing the success of this new format for RCA, Columbia Records followed suit two years later in 1951 and from there demand just snowballed into the sixties and seventies and eighties by which time the format began to lose momentum. There have been several interesting articles written about the 45rpm's 60th birthday, including a wonderful piece written by Robert Benson published on the website JustPressPlay this week which traced the format's history and also noted how, "British trade journals have been reporting that single song 45rpm records are now outselling their CD counterparts and how many American bands are now releasing music via this historic audio medium."
A visit to Amoeba Music in Berkeley, San Francisco, or Hollywood, where there are boxes and boxes and wall displays of 45's (new and old), will also quickly confirm that the once seen as deceased 45rpm is very much alive and well. As you know, vinyl in general (45rpm's, 10" records, 12" singles, and vinyl albums) has been going through a renaissance in recent years.