By Ars Technica on April 15, 2017
Enlarge (credit: Michael Holley)
The flexi disc has, for a physically flimsy format, an incredibly diverse background, and its story incorporates everyone from the Beatles, David Bowie, and ABBA, to Alice Cooper and heavy metal. In terms of retail it cropped up with National Geographic, in a million-dollar McDonalds campaign, and on the covers of numerous teenybopper magazines. It ended up pressed into illegal black-market X-rays in the Soviet Union, and even helped the noted liar Richard "Tricky Dicky" Nixon become US president in 1968
Flexi discs (not "flexidiscs") sold in their tens of millions during the 60s, 70s, 80s, and the early 1990s—before virtually disappearing from the face of the earth for a decade and a half. But, as befits a product based on a continuous spiral scratch, that was not quite the end... Other "musical postcards"—crude grooves pressed into card—had been around and selling fitfully since way back in 1950. And some vinyl flexi discs did appear in Britain in the latter half of the 1950s, although most of these were of very poor quality, technically speaking. The refined flexi disc was developed, patented, and introduced by the American company Eva-Tone Incorporated a few years later, in 1962, and was at first called "the Eva-tone Soundsheet." This new kid on the block had several advantages over its "parents": the singing postcard and the original spiral-stylus-groove product we know as the vinyl record.