Sunday, April 17, 2011

J is for...

J is for...journal, journey, joining, jukebox

J is for jukebox.

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, jukeboxes were everywhere. My parents even had friends who had one in their bay house. As kids we used to love begging our parents for quarters and taking turns picking out songs and as teenagers, we put plenty in, often loading it up with a queue. You don't see them much anymore, new technology and all that.

This is intended primarily as a visual journey but here's few facts lifted straight from

one of the first selective jukeboxes was introduced in 1927 by the Automated Musical Instrument Company, later known as AMI.

The term "jukebox" came into use in the United States around 1940, apparently derived from the familiar usage "juke joint” from the Gullah word "juke" or "joog" meaning disorderly, rowdy, or wicked.

Wallboxes were an important, and profitable, part of any jukebox installation. Serving as a remote control, they enabled patrons to select tunes from their table or booth.

Initially playing music recorded on wax cylinders, the shellac 78 rpm record dominated jukeboxes in the early part of the 20th century. The Seeburg Corporation introduced an all 45 rpm vinyl record jukebox in 1950 leading to the 45 rpm record becoming the dominant jukebox media for the last half of the 20th century.

Jukeboxes were most popular from the 1940s through the mid-1960s, particularly during the 1950s.

Styling progressed from the plain wooden boxes in the early thirties to beautiful light shows with marbleized plastic and color animation in the Wurlitzer 850 Peacock of 1941. But after the United States entered the war, metal and plastic were needed for the war effort. Jukeboxes were considered "nonessential", and none were produced until 1946.

Many consider the 1940s to be the "golden age" of jukebox styling.

All images off the web.


  1. What a great and unique choice for the letter J!

    They still hold a fascination for us. Our favorite local place [they serve blue crabs! bonus!] has an old timey juke box and we spend the equivalent of the GNP in playing tunes while we eat. LOVE! It is part of what makes the place so great. :)

    Like the history. Thanks.

  2. OK laugh all you like - I lived with a guy (for a whole year!) who installed one in our flat!

    At a certain time in the evening (when we were out not at home) I would always put Dean Martins "Little Ol' Wine Drinker" on (and then pretend it wasn't me) It wasn't on the juke box we had at home.

  3. What fun to go back and remember jukeboxes!!! I so enjoyed playing the music on them. I was always scrounging for quarters to play my favorite tune. It was so cool to sit in your booth and punch in your song!! Loved it!!
    And I always thought they were beautiful!!

  4. These are works of art, aren't they?

    I never had any money to put in the slot, neither did my friends. Sometimes the cafe proprietor would put money in for us, although we didn't really consume enough to make it worth his while.

  5. i love the wooden bodies. i want to be sacriligious and load them up with technology. steven

  6. What a fun trip down musical memory lane. I'd love to have a jukebox at home with nothing but oldies.

  7. I WANT a wicked box! I wasn't born until the late 70s, but like a good Dominican *grin* my love for music started before I could walk. The Dominican Republic has always been a decade (or two) behind the US, so you can say my young years were lived in DR's jukebox's golden age--I loved it. There was one (yellow and pink) in this grocery store/butcher shop/bar/kids hangout/the only entertainment of the village/slash/slash/slash and I used to help sweeping the floor and stuff, so at the every once in a while I was allowed to pick a song. I would dance on top of the butcher block (I was 8 or 9) as everybody clapped and sang along; I miss those days!

    I want a wicked box!

  8. Oh the stress of picking songs that didn't mark you as a geek! By the time I was old enough to not care what people thought of me they didn't have them anymore.

  9. What a great collection! I had friends (the rich ones) who had them in their basements with dance floors- awesome!
    The ones on the table at the burger joint were great- "this is dedicated to the one I love" ....

  10. That was such a fun post! I always get excited when I see one in an antique store -- they always come with such hefty price tags, however.

  11. Some of them were so beautiful. I remember the table-top kind in my grandparents restaurant.

  12. I used to go to a diner every Sunday morn that had the best jukebox - one on each table
    the selection of songs was as good as the pancakes and so much fun to go through

    I really enjoyed all the photos

  13. I love those old juke boxes, Ellen. And the music that came out of them. Fun post - brought back some happy memories of tossing quarters in the old box. :)

  14. Oh, my, they are the personification of a fun night out 42 years ago.


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