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Re: Music Machines

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:33 pm
by pennymachines
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

Re: Music Machines

Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2019 11:01 pm
by 13rebel
Fascinating stuff, love the listening tubes, thanks for posting.

Re: Music Machines

Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:10 pm
by pennymachines
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.

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

Re: Music Machines

Posted: Fri Aug 09, 2019 1:23 pm
by pennymachines
Station music box made by Arthur Junod of St Croix, Switzerland, c. 1890.

The Victoria musical theatre box by BA Abrahams of St. Croix. c. 1895

Musical theatre box, possibly by Conchon, c. 1885

Station music box by Junod, Swiss, c. 1890

Chalet-style station music box by Langdorff, c. 1890

Kalliope Panorama Automat disc musical box, Leipzig, c. 1895

Station cylinder box

Re: Music Machines

Posted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:28 am
by dickywink
I noticed a couple of videos above from Terra Technica ... if you don't know about this place it's definitely worth a visit. It's a museum that follows the coin operated phonograph and music box from conception to the current day. Over 900 jukeboxes on display some that can be played by inserting a token... also early pinball machines and a selection of bandits and retro video games. There is also a sound section that covers all forms of vinyl, wax, tape and every other recording medium in between. The place is huge and it took me two days to look around (I do like to take my time and take photos :HaHa: ). They have an American-style diner on site as well.

The reason for my visit was that they have on display a beautiful example of a Ditchburn MK2 Jukebox and thought I would take a look. When I arrived I kindly asked if I could take some photos inside the Jukebox, so they went and got the key and allowed me to snap away. A great knowledgeable team is on hand to answer any questions.

For me the visit was "The best museum that I have ever visited" - it had everything that I wanted to see and much much more. I think that there is no other collection like this on display to the public anywhere in the world...

Terra Technica is in the Czech Republic on the border of Austria. It was easy for me to get there, as there is a Ryanair flight from Stansted to Brno (very cheap) and then I rented a car at the airport and it's a one hour drive to the Museum, which was beautiful going through the Czech countryside. Terra Technica is part of the Excalibur City Complex which is a Large Hotel, outlet shopping mall, Children's Theme park and restaurants, all within two minute's walk of the museum, so it's also a great place to take the family (that's an excuse you can use to get the family there so you can visit the museum).

The Hotel was fantastic and quite luxurious and only cost £45 per night (through My visit was in February so that would be low season rates.
Adjoined to the hotel is a huge Casino if you like a flutter - I did... and came away with 300 Euro profit, so that paid for my hotel and meals for the 4 nights I stayed. :)
I didn't see any allwins or Hi-tops in the casino though :) The hotel is also two minutes walk from the Museum (everything is about a two minute walk).

I can't recommend it enough and I'm looking forward to a return visit some time next year. Here are some photos.
All the best .... Dicky

Re: Music Machines

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:24 pm
by pennymachines
It's a phenomenal museum - thank you for the great pictures. I wonder how such a fabulous collection came to be assembled in the Czech Republic. Presumably large amounts of public funding were involved. These are not random acquisitions, so clearly some real enthusiasts behind it with an eye for the very best and most historically significant. I don't think there is anything comparable in Europe or America. Not even the Gauselmann Automata Museum can match it for depth of musical coin-op exhibits.

I put your image of the Ditchburn MK2 jukebox in the Museum (with your copyright intact). Do you have another picture of the Minstrel? That's a favourite of mine.

Re: Music Machines

Posted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 8:57 pm
by dickywink
Hi PM and thanks for the reply and the add of the Ditchburn to the museum,

The Terra Technica Museum is owned by a guy called Ronald Seunig, he started the Excaliber City complex many years ago by selling duty free booze and cigs to the tourists that crossed the border on coaches and cars and the whole thing grew from there... I have spoken with him on facebook and he is a very knowledgeable person regarding jukeboxes ... so no public funding ... just one person's love of coin operated machines, but he has decided to share his amazing collection with the public for which I have much respect... He now has a partner that looks after the Pinball side of the collection also ...
There is a bit about him here ...

Regarding the Minstrel they are the only pictures I have, but here are some pictures that Geoff Young (the jukebox man in Lincoln ) has posted on facebook. Geoff has restored 2 of these recently. What I find amazing is the size of the cash box ... and in their heyday these would fill to the brim ... Also the Amps has ex military spitfire parts on them. A lot of similarities to the Ditchburns.

All the best.... Dicky