The World’s First Album Cover

Undependentâ„¢ » The World’s First Album Cover – Alex Steinweiss’ Greatest Hit

The Undependent is a pretty solid blog that claims to try and keep tabs on and bring exposure to internet-based artists. That’s something noble in that endeavour, and 4080 stands behind them 100%.

One of the cooler posts I’ve seen, the one linked above, is all about the very first album cover in history.

Alex Steinwess, a then 23 years old designer, convinced Columbia’s suits to create the first true album cover. Until then, 78s were sold in generic sleeves.Recently, I came across an apparently original edition of this album and was able to pick it up for almost nothing. Someone unwittingly dumped it onto eBay for chump change. I mean, if they’d known what they had, I would’ve at least expected the auction to include “World’s First Album Cover!” and a reserve price of $100, $500, who knows? Instead, I picked it up for less than $30. –Source

It’s amazing how such a simple idea took so long to come about. And yet, in a lot of ways, this thing that revolutionized music when it came out is now a dying art. The age of mp3 has reduced the art involved in an album cover. Apparently this first cover, when closed, looked identical to a hardcover book. So it would fit in perfectly on that shelf of yours.

Now, album art still exists, and most of the new fancy mp3 players will do their best to display it for you. There are heaps of programs out there to download the art automagically and all that jazz, but it’s just not the same. Now every traditionalist and vinyl enthusiast in the world will tell you that album art and liner notes are part of what is so special about the physical music disc.

So, good on you Alex Steinweiss. You really did a lot to improve the music industry, so thank you for that. Now I hope we all keep our fingers crossed that album covers don’t just disappear into obscurity.

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