The record player can be thought of as a precursor to today’s CD player. By the 1950s there were a variety of record players for different size records and playing speeds. The Ultra Glide was a specific model that could play records in a car with little distortion.
The Ultra Glide Record Player
The Ultra Glide record player was sold in America from the late 1950s to approximately 1968. The Ultra Glide was typically installed on a car’s dashboard, playing records smoothly despite car vibrations. Ultra Glides were not usually sold with the car. Ultra Glides were packaged with a case for holding records. The device played only 45 rpm (revolutions per minute) records, a type initially created by RCA Victor. These 45s were the most popular record format of the 1960s as they were a convenient 7 inches wide and double sided.
Ultra Glide in the 1960s
The Ultra Glide was closely associated with the period in which it was fashionable. References to the Ultra Glide in literature, for example, place it surrounding events in the early 1960s. Christopher Paul Curtis’ story “The Watsons Go To Birmingham” refers to a specific Ultra Glide model, the TrueTone AB-700, that accompanies the title family, the Watsons, on a journey south during the Civil Rights Movement.
After the Ultra Glide
Ultra Glide players were soon replaced by such alternative devices as the 8-track tape player and cassettes. Although two-reel cartridge cassettes gained in popularity throughout the 1970s and 1980s, they were often used as a medium on which to copy such older such records as the 45s used in Ultra Glides.