Wednesday, May 29, 2002

45rpm Adapter Inventor Dies, Actually Related To Dave

It's the sort of thing you wouldn't have thought someone would have to invent, but the inventor of the plastic 45 rpm record spindle insert passed away this weekend. Thomas Hutchison, 83, of Oakhurst, NJ (but originally from Scotland), invented the device in the 1950's at the request of the RCA Victor company, and over 20 million of the little yellow doodads were sold each year in the heyday of vinyl records. They enabled you to play 45 rpm records, which had larger spindle holes, on a turntable equipped only with the tiny spindle for 33 rpm records. And they had little plastic nubs on them so that they could stack and turn together on a turntable.

Mr. Hutchison is actually family. He is survived by my first cousin, his wife Linda O'Shea Hutchison. When I called to offer my condolences, she told me some interesting stories, including the time Spin Magazine came to Oakhurst to interview him for an article (they used the insert design as a logo), and the recent remanufacture of the inserts - molded in black this time - to be given away as concert souvenirs by The Black Crowes.