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History of jukeboxes- -for the record
Charlotte Observer ^ | July 3, 2004 | Jeff Elder

Posted on 07/03/2004 10:53:10 AM PDT by UnklGene

History of jukeboxes -- for the record


Q. Who invented the jukebox? -- Eris Allen, Charlotte

You put your face right up to the glass, the colored lights and chrome all around you. Hundreds of songs to choose from, but you have to pick JUST the right ones:

• "I Fought the Law" by the Bobby Fuller Four.

• "Another Saturday Night" by Sam Cooke.

• "Crazy" by Patsy Cline (the No. 1 jukebox song of all time).

Then you settle into a booth and smile to see people around the room enjoying YOUR tunes.

I think maybe I was born to play jukeboxes. Because the man who first put pay phonographs in restaurants and bars, Louis Glass, was born on my birthday, Aug. 6, in 1845.

Glass and associate William Arnold first demonstrated their "nickel-in-the-slot machine" in the Palais Royal restaurant in San Francisco on Nov. 23, 1889.

The machine was an electric cylinder phonograph in a cabinet fitted with a coin mechanism. It had no amplification and people held "listening tubes" to their ears to hear the music. The machine offered one recording, which was changed every few days.

It was an immediate success.

Fourteen more nickel-in-the-slot machines sprouted up around the Bay Area: in the White Wings Saloon, the Conclave saloon, in the waiting room for the San Francisco-to-Oakland ferry.

In six months, the machines brought in $4,019. More than 80,000 times someone put their nickel in the slot to enjoy the newfangled recorded sound.

Many experts cite Glass and Arnold as the first people to make a significant profit from recorded music.

In May 1889 in Chicago, Glass told the Convention of Local Phonograph Cos., "Gentlemen, there is money in the nickel-in-the-slot phonograph."

He wasn't just pushing their buttons.

In the next few decades, recorded music grew in popularity. And in the '20s, radio fueled the growing demand.

In 1927, the Automatic Music Instrument Co. unveiled the first electrically amplified multi-selection phonograph. Prohibition assured the device's success: Any self-respecting "speak-easy" needed music, but few could afford a band.

The Wurlitzer family, famous for the large theater organs in silent movie houses, brought some of that same grand style to the jukebox. By 1937, Wurlitzer had sold more than 100,000 models.

An important change came in 1947. Until then, jukeboxes were limited to about two-dozen records, played on one side only. The Seeburg Co. introduced a new record-changing mechanism that could accommodate 50 records, and play both sides. Seeburg also designed its sleek new aluminum-edged jukeboxes to use the 45 rpm record only.

So now the jukebox was established, perfected and entrenched in public spots. As the '40s ended, the jukebox was ready to play a new kind of music. A kind of music that couldn't be played in "respectable" nightclubs and on mainstream radio stations.

Muddy Waters and B.B. King belted their blues out of jukeboxes to small, appreciative crowds all over the country. When booking dates for blues artists were limited to the "chitlin circuit" and radio air play was almost nonexistent, there was always the juke joint. After all, that's where the jukebox got its name.

(A "jook house" was an out-of-the-way shack used by Southern field workers for dancing and drinking. When Texas distributors began referring to Wurlitzers as jukeboxes, the home office was puzzled. The head of the Wurlitzer company discovered the origin of the term and "banned" its use. His edict didn't stand for long.)

The jukebox was colorblind at a time when the music world was still segregated. All that mattered was a coin in the slot. Then you could choose whatever music you wanted. There was no bogus moralizing and no color line. Many black jukebox patrons assumed Carl Perkins and Bill Haley were black, while white teens played the songs of black artists they might otherwise not have heard.

In this way, the jukebox helped to pave the way for rock 'n' roll, and musical integration.

That's worth my quarter.

TOPICS: Miscellaneous; US: North Carolina

1 posted on 07/03/2004 10:53:11 AM PDT by UnklGene
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To: UnklGene

I have a '39 Wurlitzer 800...I love it

2 posted on 07/03/2004 3:12:15 PM PDT by woofie ( Ya gotta know who ya is and who ya aint ...cause if ya dont know who ya aint ,ya aint who ya is.)
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To: UnklGene

Last time I was at Auckland Int'l Airport (in the last year), there was a wonderful little free Museum that had a number of old jukeboxes. Very much worth a look if one passes through Auckland. I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was.

3 posted on 07/03/2004 3:21:41 PM PDT by pops88 (Geek Chick Parachutist Over Phorty)
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To: woofie
I got a piece of audio software that has a preset for that 1950's Jukebox sound. The 30's stuff is mostly cleaning up
the recording technology of the time.

It does have emulation for a 1930ish 2A3 Push-Pull amplifier, though.

4 posted on 07/03/2004 3:23:23 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Calvin Locke

I use re-strike 38s on my hearing is bad so I cant give a proffesional evaluation but the bass sounds good to me...also I love the way it looks has an early bubbler and revolving lighted pillasters

5 posted on 07/03/2004 3:55:25 PM PDT by woofie ( Ya gotta know who ya is and who ya aint ...cause if ya dont know who ya aint ,ya aint who ya is.)
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