Lenco - The Swiss years

06. December 1946

The foundation of Lenco AG as a company. It was founded by Friedrich Laeng, Marie Laeng-Stucki and Bruno Grütter. It all started in Burgdorf - a small city 27 km east of Berne (1). At that time the 78rpm shellac record was the only format on the customer market. Record players like we know them today did not exist. Initially Lenco started to sell 78rpm motors, tone arms, mounting assemblies, platters and crystal cartridges (2). There are only little information from that time that are confirmed. One source was Mr. Rudolf Laeng's website but he passed away in March 2018 and the site is not online anymore.

1948 - the 33 ⅓ rpm records

North American company Columbia Records released their new record format, well known as LP - 33 ⅓ rpm, in 1948. It was made of vinyl instead of the sensitive shellac. This was noted in Europe but changed only little on the heavily protected Western Germany (and other countries as well) record market.

1949 - the 45 rpm records

Again a North American company, RCA Victor this time, released their 45 rpm vinyl records in 1949. To distinguish their records RCA had a 38 mm center hole and the diameter of the record was 175 mm (17 cm). Again this was noted in Europe but this time the manufacturer of record players were forced to integrate the new speeds (33 rpm and 45 rpm) in one unit if they wanted to export anything to the North American market.

The intention of the 45 rpm format was to replace the 'old' 78 rpm shellac and only later - in the mid sixties - it became famous as a single record !

1950 - first 3-speed record players

In spring 1950 competitor Thorens announced their first 3-speed (33 ⅓, 45 and 78 rpm) record player. With the F 50-8, Lenco showed their first 3-speed record player on September 21st in 1950 at the Swiss exhibition 'Schweizerische Radioausstellung' in Zurich (3). It also had a special stylus that you could switch between 78 records and 33/45 long play records, including the VTF ! It was mono at that time. To protect the relative expensive records it had a mechanical auto shut off function. A tone arm lift was not implemented yet. In the same year Lenco exported their first record players (4).

Like many other companies, only 5 years after world war II, Lenco had to deal with a dry material market and the company’s future was uncertain.

The 33 years of Lenco AG Switzerland

Source list for historical information

(1)    Handelsregistereintrag December 6th 1946

(2)    Lenco D 45-8 Leaflet

(3)    Radio Mentor Issue November 1950, Page 609

(4)    Der Bund Issue December 1st 1976, Page 31

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Last Update: 13.10.2023


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