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Entertainment / Home & Family

National Jukebox Day

national-jukebox-dayThe month of November evokes a sense of nostalgia, reminiscing, and creating new memories, among other things.

It is also the month that celebrates National Jukebox Day, which falls on November 17.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

The Jukebox had its heyday in the 1940s and 1950s, though the actual history of the Jukebox extends back well over one hundred years.

In 1889, Louis Glass and William S. Arnold of San Francisco, CA invented the first coin-operated player. They took an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph and refit it with a coin mechanism, patented by Glass and Arnold. This was the first nickel-in-the-slot. In its first six months of service, this machine made over $1000.

While it was showing to be a popular device to many, its initial design had no amplification and customers had to listen to the music using one of four listening tubes.

Over the next two decades, the machine evolved from that first nickel-in-the-slot machine, to having carousels for playing multiple records and automatically changing records, leading to one of the first selective jukeboxes introduced in 1927 by the Automated Musical Instrument Company.

In 1928, Justus P. Seeburg combined an electrostatic loudspeaker with a coin-operated record player which provided a choice of eight records. Later versions of the jukebox included Seeburg’s Selectophone, which included 10 turntables mounted vertically on a spindle from which the patron could choose from 10 different records. The Seeburg Corporation introduced a 45 rpm vinyl record jukebox in 1950, and because they were smaller and lighter they became the main jukebox media for the last half of the 20th century.

By the mid-1940s, 75 percent of the records produced in America went into Jukeboxes.

It was around this time that jukeboxes as we know them became the symbol for wholesome American adolescence. According to the media of that time, juvenile delinquency was on the rise-blamed in part on the war, and the lack of parents in the home while the men were away and the women were working outside of home. Around the country, teen entertainment centers were opening as a place for teens to gather and mingle and stay off the streets and out of trouble. Jukeboxes became the epicenters of these teen entertainment clubs, malt shops, and diners.

In the 1950s and 60s, the sock-hop and drive-in culture were central to the popularity of the jukebox and the All-American teenager image. In later decades, the jukebox was immortalized in many movies and TV shows of that day, Happy Days being one of the most popular of the 50s nostalgia during the 1970s.

If anything has remained a constant from generation to generation, it is that music has always been central to the American teenage experience. While the technology from which we access music has changed drastically, the idea remains the same. In fact, due to the recent fad of all things retro-vintage, finding a replica jukebox, technologically inclined to this century, has never been easier. A simple World Wide Web search will lead you to a vast array of jukebox Bluetooth speakers, CD players, and turntables for a modern experience with the appeal of the past.

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Read more articles by Angela Hohsfield Beck

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