From the Land of Band Box Records

“Drop the coin right into the slot…..

You’ve gotta hear somethin’ that’s really hot” (Chuck Berry – School Day – March, 1957)

The Jukebox was invented back in 1890 by the duo of Louis Glass and William Arnold, a machine which required a nickle in order to enjoy a tune.  When the nickel was inserted a mechanism permitted the listener to turn a crank which in turn would activate a spring motor causing a stylus to position into the starting groove.

1918 witnessed the arrival of  automation which would  automatically change records.  Then in 1928 the “Automated Musical Instrument” machine permitted the listener to make multiple selections.

Jukebox history is rich with ingenuity genius and creativity and jukeboxes were the center focal point for the recording industry with jukebox owners receiving very high priority for advance (promotional) record releases.  In fact, the record popularity charts which were based on many factors with ever-evolving measurement criteria – but that unto itself will be the focus of a future Post.


Along came Justus Seeburg (actual name Sjoberg) in 1928 with his initial automated offering – a machine that played up to eight recordings.  The term “jukebox” stemmed directly from “juke joints” with “juke” having its roots referring to “disorderly, rowdy or wicked” behavior (associated with the behavior I suppose of juke joint patrons).


Seeburg introduced the 45 RPM record playing model in 1950 which would lead to the displacement  of 78 rpm jukeboxes.


The Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation was founded by David Cullen Rockola.

SIDE NOTE: (The Rock-Ola web page credits David’s last name with being the inspiration behind the genre description “rock an roll” – which of course is a far stretch.)

Rockola started off in 1919 manufacturing penny gumball machines and in 1927 moved on to pinball machines and slot machines, then parking meters and even firearms before introducing their very popular line of jukeboxes in 1935 introducing the “Model A” 12-play 78 rpm record jukebox.  During WWII the Rockola plant converted to carbine rifle production and in 1954 introduced it’s own “bubbler” to compete with Wurlitzer.

Fonz and Happy Days – Taking Control of the Seeburg Model M100-C and the Ladies


The first Wurlitzer appeared in 1946 (Rudolph Wurlitzer Company).  Rudolph started off manufacturing brass instruments, moving into piano production, then carnival rides, kitchen appliances, and even opened a large chain of retail stores.  Wurlitzer’s classic “bubbler” model was the model 1015.

In 1952 Wurlitzer introduced a model called “The Brain”.  The machine played 100 selections but amazingly intermixed 78 RPM and 45 RPM singles!


Farewell to Malt Shop Days……

For years jukeboxes were of the highest priority for record publishers – making certain that jukebox owners were the first to receive new releases. It was the advent of portable radios from the 1950’s and then cassette tape decks which spelled the downfall of jukeboxes.  Jukeboxes thrive today as sentimental and nostalgic collector’s treasures (original Wurlitzer model 1015 bubblers are being listed today from around 25,000 dollars down to 10,000!)

All of us boomers had at least one spot we would frequent where the jukebox reigned supreme.  For me it was the Tastee Freeze on North Sheridan Blvd. and about 3rd Avenue on the Jefferson County side of the street.

Whether or not past times were as simple and innocent as usually is presented, in our memories – they just were…

The Mills Constellation

The Tel-O-Matic – 1947

The Manhattan by Packard – 1947

The Fiesta by Aireon – 1947

The Wurlitzer 1080 – 1949

The Rock-Ola – Models 1434 and 1542 – 1952

Wurlitzer Ad – 1952

Wurlitzer – The Brain – 1952

The Wurlitzer Wall Box – 1952

The Wurlitzer Fifteen Hundred – 1952

The Seeburg Select-O-Matic – 1953

Seeburg Dual Programming – 1958

The United UPA-100 – 1958

The Jupiter – 1967

The Rock-Ola Concerto – 1967

The Rowe Super Jukebox – 1967

The Wurlitzer Modern “One More Time” Jukebox (CD Format)


%d bloggers like this: