I bought 45s as a child, before progressing to 12" singles later on. This was the late 70s/early 80s, and at that time I found a lot of 7 inch records were quite thin, and were easily broken if extreme care wasn't taken (and how much care is a small boisterous kid bursting with enthusiasm and energy going to take when playing his precious purchases?). I've since handled several sixties 7" pressings, and like the albums of the time, they were, I noticed, built to last.
The early 1980s brought 12" singles to the masses - Once strictly for DJs, these extended versions became available to all at most record shops. In those days, a twelve inch mix was, more often than not, just the basic song with an extended drum solo in the middle and extra repeats of the chorus before the fade. I had several such records in my collection back then. In the late 80s, when Chicago gave us House music, the dance/rave music craze gripped the nation (Britain, I mean, but the rest of Europe soon joined us), and suddenly 12" records were a must for every bedroom disc jockey.
Back to the topic: My early 7" purchases were played on an old Dansette record player, and the records were stacked on top of the turntable's "spindle" (as we called it), a thin metal stick about six inches high, with a little jaw-like hinge to keep the records in place. These devices were not completely reliable - sometimes, the mechanism would not function correctly, and instead of the singles dropping onto the turntable one by one as they should, the whole stack of six or seven records would come crashing down at once!