Re: steel needles - but also ones made from thorns
Steel needles are single play. You can still buy packs of 100. I have a 1935 radiogram with "magnetic" pickup that uses steel needles. USA autochangers in 1930s used sapphire (50 to 200 hrs) or even diamond (500 to 1000 hrs). Some UK models in early 1950s still used steel needles.
The moving iron in my 1934 pickup isn't the needle. A bamboo cocktail stick works well.
Early "78s" may have been deliberately recorded at 82rpm (more quality) or as slow as 65 rpm (longer play). Cinema used 33 1/3rd rpm and up to 16" disks playing from the centre.
From the 1930s the 78s did come in 7" (kids) and 12" (classical) sizes. The modern microgroove 45rpm and 33 1/3 rpm came out in 1948/1949 approximately. Vinyl did exist before WWII.
The modern "retro" players in the high street today do have a 78 setting, but it's useless as the stylus is unsuited, it's for microgroove only. Real multi-type players either had a flip over stylus or dual flip over cartridge. The non-microgroove (all 78s) needs a longer fatter different shape of stylus. The 16rpm was microgroove 12" for language learning or recorded lectures as the frequency response is much poorer.
CD is superior to LP. More dynamic range, more frequency response after 1st playing, less distortion, no surface / needle noise, no rumble. DAB & DTT & sat audio are inferior to CD, Vinyl or FM with a good signal due to compression artefacts (distortion), which is ironically worse for people with impaired hearing, maybe because they don't match the acoustic lossy model. MP3 at 256K isn't bad and at 320K good enough for most material. Sadly most digital gadgets only support MP3, not Flac. With 256G SD cards and USB sticks the storage isn't an issue.
Low audio bitrates on Digital Radio & TV is simple greed to reduce costs.