Hip Pocket Records: Portable Vinyl For 69 Cents (1967-1968)

In 1967 Philco, the electronics division of the Ford Motor Company, introduced Hip Pocket Records, portable vinyl discs with a song on each side. They cost just 69 cents at Ford dealers and Woolworth’s stores.


Hip Pocket Records


The Vinyl Factory:

Introduced in the mid ’50s, Chrysler’s automobile record player (which took special 7″ discs that revolve at 16 2/3 rpm) was struggling to catch on.


Mrs Batt inserting a record into the front of her in-car record player. The music is fed into the car radio speaker system. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Mrs Batt inserting a record into the front of her in-car record player. The music is fed into the car radio speaker system. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)


As you can imagine, it simply wasn’t that practical to have rigid 7″s floating free in the glove compartment. So up stepped Philco, a division of the Ford Motor group, to develop a smaller, bendier alternative. Launched in 1967 – 4″ in diameter, flexible and able to be played at 45rpm – the Hip Pocket Record was born.



Otis Redding Philco Hip Pocket Record (with standard 7" 45rpm record for comparison)

Otis Redding Philco Hip Pocket Record (with standard 7″ 45rpm record for comparison)


With Atlantic, Mercury and Roulette on board, the one-sided Hip Pocket Records contained two Top 40 tracks and cost 69 cent at Woolworth from the likes of Otis Redding, Van Morrison and Aretha Franklin… rival manufacturer the Americom Company’s Pocket Disc series offered a cheaper, more accessible alternative (available at vending machines around the country). They also managed to strike a deal with Apple Records’ to get a number of Beatles hits pressed to Pocket Disc.



This was, in part, due to the fleeting nature of their popularity. By 1969, the development of the compact cassette and ultimately the Sony Walkman put pay to the pocket-sized flexi-disc and its short-lived dream of a portable vinyl for the world. Now no more than a footnote in the history of music, these little oddities and their amusing advertising campaigns do have a certain naïve charm, and we’ve compiled the best of them into a bite-size gallery below.


s (some discs were offered free as part of promotions for Gleem toothpaste or Head & Shoulders)

Some discs were offered free as part of promotions for Gleem toothpaste or Head & Shoulders – via


Aaron Z Snyder:

I was an engineer at Philco-Ford at the time they introduced this innovation in the late 1960s. It was one of many failed (or, more precisely, stupid) ventures they engaged in for the consumer market. Problem #1: these “hits” had already come and gone from the charts, so why would anyone buy them even if they didn’t have them already in a standard format? Problem #2: try putting them in your hip pocket and then sitting down! Guess what happens? Problem #3: the diameter was so small that they couldn’t be played on standard record changers (they did have a standard center hole). Since the grooves extended into the area normally occupied by a standard label, the changers would eject before the record was finished. Philco, in their brilliance, offered a phonograph which would play these records. If memory serves me, it had a tiny turntable (small diameter, that is), but a tone arm long enough to play 12″ LPs. THe whole enterprise was misbegotten, and the products were withdrawn from the market quickly.


Hip Pocket Records


Chuck Miller has more:

Between 1967 and 1969, Philco/Ford produced over 40 different titles…

Initially, Philco/Ford got their music from three record companies – Atlantic, Mercury and Roulette, as well as their subsidiary labels like Bang and Atco. Smaller labels joined up in 1968, including Scepter, Double Shot, Phil-LA of Soul and Mala. They even produced a specially-designed phonograph (the Philco Miniature Radio Phonograph, model S-1379GR, with built-in AM radio, 10″ long when closed, 12″ with handle extended, capable of playing Hip Pockets as well as standard 45’s and 33’s).


Philco Miniature Radio Phonograph


All the songs were mono mixes – in most cases, that meant combining both left and right stereo channels. Some Hip Pocket releases, though, had entirely different mono mixes, most notably Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man” (HP-17), whose mono version didn’t appear again until a 1992 CD box set.


the doors


The sleeves themselves were nothing more than a listing of the two tracks and a stock photo of the artist or band; but even in that framework some artistic gems are discovered. The Doors’ “Light My Fire” (HP-9) shows a transparent Jim Morrison superimposed over the faces of his bandmates. Tommy James’ “I Think We’re Alone Now” (HP-1) shows him with a trio of comely cuties (folks, I don’t think these are the Shondells). John Fred’s “Judy In Disguise” (HP-25) shows the band in an elegant stained-glass motif. And the releases by the Five Americans (HP-10) and Keith (HP-20) could arguably be called their “Greatest Hits” collections.

During Philco/Ford’s two-year production of Hip-Pockets, another company tried to market flexidiscs of popular artists. This company, Americom, hoped to set up a series of vending machines that could pop out a flexidisc the way a cigarette machine pops out Winstons. And they had the biggest artists of the 1960’s – the Beatles – as their drawing card.

Americom’s Beatles line included not only the Fab Four, but many artists on Apple, including the Iveys, Billy Preston and Mary Hopkin.


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Hip Pocket Records Hip Pocket Records Hip Pocket Records 111401863_56dcd46b69_o 111401842_63f58baa68_o 111401826_13213d9573_o Hip Pocket Records 111401781_61662ea7f6_o Hip Pocket Records 111401728_63fea56ce6_o 111401693_33f4ac6d66_o 111401671_941f529d51_o 111401649_1d6d39ddcf_o 111401619_8f8e15cb7a_o Hip Pocket Records


Record sleves via Lex10, RareBeatles

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