History of the Jukebox

History of the Jukebox

Next we are going to tell you a little about the origin and the History of the Jukebox, also known as jukebox, jukebox o rockola. To begin we must know that a Jukebox is a partially automated device that plays music. Usually they are composed of 4 parts, these being a library, a selector, a carousel and a player, apart obviously from the electrical lighting and power system as well as a purse (if it is for exploitation).

The first jukeboxes and pianolas had a common origin in fairs, amusement parks and some train stations, such as in Switzerland, the cueles already incorporated purse for collecting coins. Some of these primitive musical devices were so well built that they have survived in perfect working order to this day, and not only in museums and / or collectors, but they can still be found in many latitudes of the world where current technologies have not proliferated a lot.

History of the Jukebox


The immediate predecessor of Jukebox It could be said that it was the "coin slot" phonograph, which was the first recorded sound medium. The first machines were only capable of playing songs up to 2 minutes long, in 1910 they began to change the cylinder for the stone disc (Gramophone), allowing longer duration songs.
It seems that the term "juke box" derived from a term that appeared in the 30s in the United States, which was a word used in "African-American" street slang to refer to the "Jook" dance. So if we take this source as reliable, it would be logical to think that Jukebox literally means "Dance box".

Jukebox from the 60s and 70s

During the decades of the 60 and the 70, the jukeboxes (show room jukebox) combined remote melody selectors (wallbox) were very popular in American restaurants, as they allowed diners to make their selections without having to get up from the table or "queue" in front of the machine. Possibly the most famous model is the model Seeburg 3W1 of which original pieces continue to be reproduced (by other brands), as is the case with Sound-leisure Wallbox diner selector or even cheaper replicas like the Jukebox diner Wallbox .

During those years models were introduced with different ornate lights and decorations, disco, psychedelic and other cosmetic accessories while the principle of operation remained invariably the same in comparison. The popularity "Counters" indicated to the seller the number of times the A side of the disc was played (the B side was hardly important), so only popular recordings remained on the menu or list and the least played were changed by others with the possibility of becoming successful. The Wurlitzer machines were unique because they could play side A and B of a disc and move on to the next selection; the Rock-Ola and Seeburg brands reproduced the chosen A sides, then the selected B sides and then stopped.Ronnie Wood Hotel Palace Barcelona Suite

The most popular machines were Wurlitzer, Rock-wave, Seeburg and AMI, of which we can still find original machines perfectly restored today and even totally new machines, for example the prestigious brand Rock-Ola (with representation in Spain www.Rock-ola.es) continues to manufacture Original Professional Jukebox with the same style and soul but adapted to current technology, both CD's and digital and Sound-Leisure recently released 2 new models of Professional Jukebo CDs of 45 rpm.

Current Jukebox

At the History of the Jukebox The jump from vinyl record to CD could not be missed.

At the beginning of the 1980s, with the appearance of Compact discs, these became the main support for modern jukeboxes. Towards the end of the century a large number of companies began to introduce fully digital jukeboxes. Which implied not using any CD anymore, and safely downloading the melodies from the Internet or through a protocol of the owner of a transmission via telephone (cell phone tones). Additionally, the availability of selections became potentially enormous than what would be had in a simple CD, in addition to this, some machines are capable of informing which melody is heard at a given moment and where, expanding the commercial options.

Jukeboxes and their ancestors were a very successful industry at the time. Its popularity from the 1940s through the 1960s and in the 50s especially, caused the image of the Machines to be associated with the musical era of the Rock And Roll, which still persists today, but they were also very popular during swing music in the same way, so many restaurants or stores with a retro concept have a jukebox.

Nowadays, the production of these machines has been increasing in recent years, thanks to the introduction of programs that can emulate the operation of a classic jukebox to a digital jukebox on a PC. The form of operation is very similar to classic jukeboxes, however, nowadays these modern equipment have the capacity to store more music and play videos or even karoak according to the equipment and the program that the equipment uses. You can vary the cost of each section if the operator decides. The use of these digital machines can be more attractive than a classic jukebox because of the advantages they offer. As for example The Brand Rock-wave and its models with 1TB capacity (13.000 cd's)

Rock-ola Nostalgic Music Center PV4

Jukebox housing

The first jukeboxes were simple wooden boxes with a slot and some buttons. Over time they became more decorated and made use of colored lights, rotating lights, the use of chrome trim and various visual motifs. Many consider that the models of the 40s would be those belonging to the "golden age" as they have a stylized line with a markedly Gothic influence, like a kind of "Gothic rainbow of a cathedral". During World War II and during the Great Depression, new designs and retail alternatives reflecting the festive mood. Even before that jukeboxes were frequently one of the "escapes" from the problems of the Great Depression and the war. The Würlitzer 850 is an example from this era.

Progressive stylizations were appearing in the plane of the typical wooden machines of the early thirties, when presenting applications in metal and plastic, and some type of animation. But when the United States entered the war and with the latent need for metals and plastics, their production took a step backwards. In 1943 the Würtlitzer 950 returned to the use of wood, it should be noted that since the mechanisms were made of metal, not many parts were produced during this time. Rather, a new type of cabinet was used, since many of the mechanisms were assembled by hand, many of the pieces thus built generally needed -to be restored- the use of adaptations or modifications. The Victory cabinet switched from plastics to glass in the dash and lights. After the war the main materials became available again, marking the "boom" of jukeboxes.

The Wurlitzer 1015-Bubbler (Bubble) model of the Würlitzer brand typified the most popular aspect of all time. Many of these devices remained in use until the fifties, being associated with popular culture despite its origin in the 40 because of its unique and prominent stylistic design. created by stylist Paul Fuller, it is rumored that when the companies focused on the business of war, it was when Paul conceived the appearance of this model, resulting in one of the most popular icons of American culture.

The 40 soundphones are called "Golden Age" because the use of plastic in gold color predominated. Those of the 50 years are from the "Silver Age" for the motives or moldings in predominantly chrome. Towards the 60 years, with the increase in fast food businesses, restaurants wanted to have customers who enter and consume quickly, and not have them there, so the machines became less decorative. The mechanism of changes used at that time made them appear rather as machines for making cigarettes.


Some Aesthetically Remarkable Jukebox Models


  • Rock-Ola model 1413 Premier (1942) - Similar to something from a sci-fi movie from the 90s. It has a distinctive "eyeball" in the middle in green.
  • Rock-Ola model 1422 and 1426 (1946-47) - A beautiful use of lights like a spiral rainbow with a resemblance in their resonance holes to those of a violin.
  • Rock-Ola Princess - The name has been applied to various models that vary drastically in appearance. This model is very popular today, for nostalgic use in homes, due to its compact size. The most coveted Princess model has a visible mechanism - something that home jukebox owners universally desire.
  • Wurlitzer Model 750 and 750E (1941) - Somehow the forerunner of the famous Model 1015 but with a more rounded look.
  • Wurlitzer Model 800 (1941) - Very remarkable and pleasant model somewhat resembling a launch pad with its two rockets alongside. The flaming effect of its dial and dash was achieved with a rotating tube system.
  • Wurlitzer Model 850 (1941) - One with perhaps the best artwork on the grating. The lights provided an animation effect.
  • Wurlitzer Model 950 (1942) - A kind of visual hybrid between the Models 800 and 1015 with a design influenced by Greek art.
  • Wurlitzer Models 1080 and 1080-A (1947-48) - Another model with a strong Greek influence, it did not have intensive use of lights, but nevertheless marked the characteristic style with its classic curved profile.
  • Wurlitzer Jukebox Model 1100 (1948-49) - Represents the transition of styles between the models of the 40s and 50s when the player area appeared clearly behind protective glass, had a persistent use of chrome trim.
  • AMI Rowe «Top Flight» Model (1936-38) - Very distinctive grille-dash with metallic finish very Sci-fi design.
  • AMI Rowe Model "A" jukebox from (1946-47) - Unique with "space armor". A style that was ahead of its time.
  • Seeburg Cadet (1940) - A very nice model.
  • Seeburg M100-A (1948-1949) - The first to select 100 tracks, it also played mixed 10 Rpm 12- and 78-inch record phonograms. Its fluorescent lighting and chrome make other models appear old-fashioned.
  • Gabel Kuro (1940) - An interesting design that in style appears to be from the 70s rather than the 40s.
  • Asb Labs (2006) - Development of Wolf Jukebox G, to be used as a jukebox emulator on a PC.

Rock-ola Jukebox

The name Rockola is a variation of the Rock-Ola device name of the invention of the founder of the machine builder David Cullen Rockola, and is not an acronym for the word Rock and Victrola as many people think. It is one of the most common names with which the device is usually designated, the other is Sinfonola. The word is also associated with the 50 and 60 years during the Rock and Roll era. The History of the Jukebox Would be incomplete without manufacturers like Rock-ola or Wurlitzer.



The world of Jukebox at the moment:

Currently, you You can find the Jukebox (rock-wave, jukebox, flask, fountain), in www.thecrazyfifties.es, since we have a wide catalog of Jukebox, as well as practically everything you need to set up your own American roadside bar (diner) since we have a wide catalog of American furniture from the 50's and 60's: American vintage style chairs, American-style dining tables, diner benches, double benches, corner units, bar stools as well as American-style decoration accessories, either, gasoline pumps, retro lighting lamps, decorative figures (waitresses, hot dogs, burgers, betty boop ) pictures, bubble gum machines, retro record players, retro telephones, Coca-Cola type soda vending machines, clocks, retro sofas, even sofas and tables made with car parts such as cadillac sofas, motor tables etc ...


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