Roentgenizdat is a portmanteau
of the words 'roentgen
' (as in roentgen rays; x-rays) and the Russian 'izdatel'stvo' meaning publisher. It is a variation of the better-known 'samizdat
', or 'self-publication', referring to the underground publication of banned literature in the Soviet Union. As well as literature, much western music (including rock and jazz, etc.) was banned. Despite some records being smuggled through to the legions of jonesing
music junkies, demand far exceeded supply. Vinyl was near-impossible to get, so even when records could miraculously cross the border, they could not be reproduced. However, soon enough someone brilliant realised that sound grooves could be inscribed in the acetate of old x-ray plates. Thus, the roentgenizdat, or x-ray press, was born. X-ray records (or 'rock on ribs' as they were often known, due to the bones which were visible when the discs were held up to the light) were of poor quality and seldom lasted for more than a few months, but they still contained the precious forbidden music, and as such were treasured by all who could get their hands on them.
The roentgenizdat was eventually discovered and banned in 1958.