Entrepreneur Louis T. Glass installed the “nickel-in-the-slot player” at The Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco on November 23, 1889.
It becomes an overnight sensation, and its popularity soon spread around the world. The term “jukebox” did not come into use until around 1940, apparently derived from the familiar “juke joint”, derived from the Gullah word “juke” or “joog” meaning disorderly, rowdy, or wicked.
During the first year of the jukebox, from November of 1889 until the summer of 1890, quite a few coin-op music machines were produced in San Francisco.
Glass told other operators and manufacturers during the “First Annual Convention of Local Phonograph Companies of the United States” held at the Auditorium Hotel in Chicago on the 28th and 29th May, 1890, that his first 15 machines had brought in a little more than $4,000. That was quite a lot of money those days.
The success of the jukebox eventually spelled the end of the player piano, then the most common way of pounding out popular music.
However, it is important to mention that the first really successful and reliable coin-op phonograph in the States was developed and patented in 1891 by Albert K. Keller.
He then assigned his patent rights to the Automatic Phonograph Exhibition Company headed by Felix Gottschalk in New York.
The Albert K. Keller designed automatic phonographs with Edison mechanism were at first manufactured in collaboration with Ezra T. Gilliland of the Gilliland Sales Co., and installed in arcades in many big cities.
In 1918, Hobart C. Niblack patented an apparatus that automatically changed records, leading to one of the first selective jukeboxes being introduced in 1927 by the Automated Musical Instrument Company, later known as AMI.
In 1928, Justus P. Seeburg, who was manufacturing player pianos, combined an electrostatic loudspeaker with a record player that was coin operated, and gave the listener a choice of eight records.
Later versions of the jukebox included Seeburg’s Selectophone, with 10 turntables mounted vertically on a spindle.
Then greater levels of automation were gradually introduced.
Song-popularity counters told the owner of the machine the number of times each record was played (A and B side were generally not distinguished), with the result that popular records remained, while lesser-played songs could be replaced.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
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