When it was exciting
I worked as a bench engineer at the Laskys branch at 257 Tottenham Court Road. The big brach was at no 42 which became Micro Anvika (I think they are on the critical list also). The poster who said that the 44.1 was chosen as it could be factored into the 625 line 50 field PAL sync and the 525 line 60 field NTSC sync is correct as it was expected that modifed VCRs would be the intial medium for the largest market segment. It was also above the 20Khz audio bandwith by a factor of two and a bit.
The real memory was Phil Oakey, wonky haired vocalist from the second incarnation of the Human League coming to buy a Sony PCM-F1 and its matching portable (ish) Beta VCR. There was also a Hitachi-Shibaden VHS machine that was a self contained unit of VCR deck and ADA amp. The later VCR "Hi-Fi" arrangement was analogue but with VCR effective tape speed and 70+db dynamic range. Most VHS Hifi recorders had nasty IC based rec and play amps so it never reached its potential. For a long time, with the right recorder, it made more sense than digital for the amateur or semi-pro user.
As I recall you could could defeat the SCMS on the Sony F1 with a small DC voltage to the left PCM output. As two machines were a years wages it was not a practical restriction. You were always going to send analogue to the pressing plant. Some indie recordings were still mixed down to a Dolby C cassette deck and providing you didn't want to stable a stereo image or much dynamic range, neither of which were essential to the synth based pop music of the day, they sounded just fine.
Years later I gave up my soldering iron and became a sysadmin to finance my... law degree. Thus proving that digital audio only eats itself and all those who sail in it.