Record Store Paper Catalog

Back in the day, before CD’s were a thing, and before the internet was on your phone, if you needed to find out if you had ever David Bowie album that currently existed during a brief but all-consuming desire to own everything Bowie had ever released (yes including his mod days first album) and any compilations that may exist…

hypothetically that is…

the place you went to was the record store and the all-powerful record store paper catalog. This catalog was huge. It reminded me of the enormous one volume dictionaries at a big library. Thousands of thin pages.


The record catalog (known as  Phonolog), see Wiki…

was on a stand that held it open and made it easier to flip through. Mostly just the record store staff would use it to answer questions about what song was on what record and what was a bands first album and such. I think it was after one of my own such questions that the catalog suddenly intrigued me. I remember checking it out and thinking how cool it was and that suddenly I had a ton of information at my finger-tips.

I even asked about getting my own. I was received with a look of chagrin by the record store manager. It seems that they were crazy expensive and that you had to subscribe to get updates and it was a huge pain.

When I thought about this Phonolog recently I tried endlessly to find a picture to no avail. It wasn’t until I posted a question about it at that someone (thanks nerve_pylon!) remembered and pointed me to the Wiki. Someone added a link to an e-bay auction for one of these for $400!

My how technology has changed! Now that whole catalog is probably a searchable PDF.

Good times.

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