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pennymachines
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Re: Music Machines

Postby pennymachines » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:33 pm

So when was the first jukebox invented?

Well, what is a jukebox? It's more than a device which automatically plays music in exchange for money. There has to be some means of selecting from a range of tunes. Several of the mechanical music machines shown in this topic do that. But surely a jukebox has to play phonographic recordings.

In 1889, Louis Glass and William S. Arnold placed a coin-operated Edison cylinder phonograph in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. It was an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph in an oak cabinet refitted with their patented coin mechanism. It had no amplification and patrons had to listen to the music using one of four listening tubes. In its first six months it made over $1000 and is often cited as the first significant jukebox.



Versions of this machine were soon available playing four or five cylinders but, in my books, did not yet amount to a jukebox, as they lacked tune selection. The first fully fledged jukebox, as far as I'm aware, must be the amazing Multiphone by the Multiphone Operating Co. of New York which appears to have been made between 1905 and 1908. This all mechanical box not only offered 24 selections, but had great elegance of form, which was to become the signature of fine jukeboxes.





The Regina Hexaphone (or Automatic Reginaphone) arrived shortly afterwards, in 1908. This one allowed the patron to select from six four minute cylinders. Unlike the Multiphone, it was made for resale, with around 8000 manufactured up until 1921. Bar electronic amplification and lighting effects, the jukebox had arrived.





101 Hexaphone



Some early boxes:

Bussoz clockwork Bussophone of 1921



Mills Hi-Boy, 1928



Bussoz Bussophone, 1942


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Re: Music Machines

Postby 13rebel » Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:01 pm

Fascinating stuff, love the listening tubes, thanks for posting.

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Re: Music Machines

Postby pennymachines » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:10 pm

BB.jpg
Multiphone_24Zyl_1906.jpg
Multiphone in alternative case

Billboard magazine published an excellent little history of the jukebox in 1953: 65 Years of Jukebox Growth. It refers to several other early contenders like the 25 cylinder playing Concertophone of 1906 by the Skelly Manufacturing Co. of Chicago, but of particular note is Gabel's Automatic Entertainer, designed by John Gabel and built by the Automatic Machine & Tool Co., also of Chicago. It made its début in 1905-6, but production was slow until 1915 while John Gabel dealt with patent litigation from rivals. It offered many advanced features, including a selection of 12 records (not the soon to be obsolete cylinders). A single crank of the handle was sufficient to wind the mechanism, a new needle was fed to the pickup for each play and a magnetic slug ejector thwarted cheats.

Gabel2.jpg
Gabel's Automatic Entertainer, 1906
Diary Disclosures of John Gabel: A Pioneer in Automatic Music (PDF) by Rick Crandall documents, amongst other things, the discovery of a surviving example, the development of the machine and the intense courtroom battles Gabel faced against Victor Co. which tried to claim patent rights against him.

The 1918 version is fully described here and has essentially the same mechanism, but employs an electric motor to wind the spring. This ensured that a consistent speed was achieved regardless of the electric current supplied in each location.







Gabel Automatic Entertainer, 1913 (unrestored)



Some more early boxes:

Capehart 28G, 1928



Capehart 28G Orchestrope, 1928



Capehart Amperion (domestic, non-coin disc changer), 1930



Capehart (domestic, non-coin disc changer), 1941



The History of Coin-Operated Phonographs 1899-1998 (PDF) by Gert J. Almind


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