Was bakelite used for computer data storage like it was used for grammophone records? My brother says he remembers this but I cannot find it on Google.

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    Are you sure your brother was not teasing you? Sep 28, 2020 at 13:25
  • Well somewhat obviously it could be as we had cheap flexi discs records stuck on magazine covers but I can't think of anything that used bakelite as a backing medium, so my answer would be no.
    – PeterI
    Sep 28, 2020 at 13:35
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    Bakelite was hardly ever used for grammophone records, typical media were shellac and vinyl. I never heard of a bakelite usage for computer data. From bakelite, you might be able to mass-produce copies of identical data streams, and I'd expect them to have lots of bit-errors, given the typical consistency of bakelite products. So a don't see a plausible use for data storage. Sep 28, 2020 at 13:36
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    Big picture, records are a form of data storage. But they weren't made with bakelite.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 28, 2020 at 13:40
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    You can make ROM with a diode matrix, and in pre-PCB days, you'd often assemble circuits on tag strips that had bakelite bases... so sure, you could have bakelite-backed ROMs :-)
    – dave
    Sep 28, 2020 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


I don't think so, and I don't recall reading or hearing about any such data storage technology, although mechanical data storage (in its broadest sense) might have been done using Bakelite. For example, cam-actuated "programmers" that control electrical equipment may may have used Bakelite cams, and this could be considered to be a form of data storage. But for storing arbitrary data, Bakelite does not seem to be a suitable techology. One of the earliest forms of mechanical data storage was paper tape, which derived from telegraph (Telex) technology.

It is true that early gramophone records were made from Bakelite, but that was replaced by shellac, and then vinyl.

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    Are you certain that Bakelite was the recording medium for old records, and not just a substrate onto which the medium (e.g., shellac) was coated? Not only is Bakelite quite hard, it also has a coarse flaky structure which becomes plainly visible if you break a piece off of it. Sep 28, 2020 at 17:30
  • @SolomonSlow - is that true, though? bakelite as used in electronics was laminar in nature, but bakelite jewellery had a fine, high-sheen surface that might well have served as a recording medium, though I never heard of such.
    – dave
    Sep 29, 2020 at 2:16
  • @SolomonSlow It may have been used as a substrate. I know that during WWII, shellac was in short supply, and so substitutes were used. These records were prone to deteriorate and crumble.
    – Mick
    Sep 29, 2020 at 3:25
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    OK, I read through the whole Bakelite article on Wikipedia, and now I understand that the majority of larger "Bakelite" products actually were moulded from a mixture of Bakelite resin with a filler material such as; cotton, asbestos, sawdust, etc. Any texture that I might have seen after breaking some moulded piece of Bakelite would have been due to the filler material, and not an inherent property of the plastic itself. Sep 29, 2020 at 12:54

And people did use vinyl grammophone records to store computer programs (though more as a gimmick), see for example here about a Commodore 64 program hidden within Prodigal’s 1984 album entitled Electric Eye.

There also was the Flexi-disc, a thin square of plastic with a program on it, which could be produced very cheap, and came as part of a computer magazine. But again, vinyl, not bakelite.

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