Also spelled "flexi-disc
" or "flexidisk
", these were flat, bendable records, maybe as thin as a piece of construction paper
Invented sometime in the 1950s, flexidiscs were a cheap way to distribute music, and they found uses all over the spectrum. Many a '70s band put their early demos on flexidiscs. The Beatles used flexidiscs to deliver a Christmas message to their fan club members every year. Flexidiscs also appeared in music magazines as free inserts, often sporting new songs or unreleased rarities.
The disadvantage to flexidiscs was that they had terrible sound quality and degraded rather quickly with each play. Eva-Tone Inc., the last of the flexidisc manufacturers, bragged about making disks that would last hundreds of plays.
Eva-Tone made a good business out of flexidiscs -- which the company called "soundsheets" -- and perfected the technology to put them in books and magazines. That was the key that helped flexidiscs blossom as a business, finding their way into advertising campaigns, junk mail and educational materials.
National Geographic Magazine was among the first Soundsheet customers -- wunderhorn1 points out that a flexidisc recording of Neil Armstrong's "One small step" was included with the July 1969 Moon Landing issue.
But flexidiscs haven't fared well in the era of the compact disc. Eva-Tone stopped taking flexidisc orders in August 2000, having found greener pastures in areas such as optical disks and cassette duplication. The last flexidisc contract Eva-Tone honored was with Talking Books Publishing Co., which had been recording magazines for the blind since 1968. To my knowledge, there's no way to press a flexidisc record today.
Eva-Tone soundsheet history: http://www.eva-tone.com/about_news.asp?Action=Read&NewsID=26