Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Catalog numbering systems for single records
This list presents the numbering systems used by various record companies for single (mainly 7" 33 1/3 and 45, and 10" 78 rpm) records.
Capitol Records began with number 100 when it started. By 1950 the number series had reached the 700s, and crossed the 1000 mark in the latter part of that year. There was a separate series of 40000s for country 78s.
In the 1940s, Columbia 78s used 5-digit numbers in the 30000s. The series had reached 38600 around 1950 and continued into the 1950s, passing the number 40000 in the middle of the decade. In the late 1940s, Columbia introduced 7" 33 1/3 rpm singles, which were numbered in their own series, with a prefix 1- before a low number, not exceeding 3 digits. Columbia originally resisted issuing 45 rpm singles, as that was a speed originated by competitor RCA Victor Records. However, eventually Columbia began to issue 45s with numbers identical to the corresponding 7" 33 1/3 singles, except for the prefix 6- instead of 1-.
Early in the 1950s, the system was changed to give singles at all speeds the same numbers except that the 33 1/3 rpm records had a prefix, now 3-, and the 45 rpm records also a prefix, now 4-, added to the number of the 78.
Eventually the only speed issued was 45 rpm, and the 4- prefix was dropped. By 1960 the series reached 41000, by 1970 it reached 45000. In 1974, shortly after passing 46000, the numbering series changed, beginning again with 10000. By 1980 the numbers reached 11000.
Decca 78s were given 5-digit numbers in the 20000s, with 45s given corresponding numbers with the prefix 9-. The series reached 24700 around the beginning of 1950. Just before 1960 the numbers reached 30000; Decca's issues in the 1960s apparently came much more slowly, as by 1970 the numbers had only gone to about 32600.
Another series of Decca singles wes numbered in the 40000s, apparently mostly devoted to country records.
The subsidiary label Coral used numbers in the 60000s.
For its European branches, EMI changed at the end of the sixties to a uniform numbering system. xx xxx-xxxxx.
- The first digits represent the country (eg 1C is Germany, 2C is France, 3C is Italy, etc).
- The second three digits are mostly 006, but sometimes 004 or 008 was used for repressings, while 000 is used for jukebox pressing.
- The last 5 digits are the unique single reference for the single
A separate series in the 8900s, subsequently changed to the 89000s, was issued consisting of jazz singles. Some jazz singles were also issued with numbers in the 11000s.
45s were given the same numbers as the 78s, with a suffixed "x45" added.
RCA Victor Records went in the mid-40s to a complex system, in which all records had a 2-digit prefix denoting the type of music and a 4-digit specific number. Most popular 78s had the prefix 20, but other prefixes existed.
When the 45 rpm record was originated in the late 1940s, a prefix was set up for each type of music, with 47- for the popular records whose 78 rpm version was given a 20- prefix. At first the numbers of the two versions were not similar, but in 1950 the system was changed to provide the same numbers after the hyphen for both speed versions of a single record.
As the 1950s proceeded, most prefixes other than 20- for 78s and 47- for 45s were eliminated. And of course, 78s themselves did not last long into the 1950s.
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