Wurlitzer  
 

Music to make you well?

This photo of a classic Wurlitzer juke box was taken in a doctor’s waiting room somewhere in Switzerland, and makes an interesting image for the picture comparison game. Perhaps the doctor thinks it will take the patients’ minds off their ailments, or more likely their wife (or husband) won’t have the famous music machine in the house?

Invented in America, the term ‘juke box’ is a variation of ‘joog’, meaning rowdy, disorderly or wild behaviour, which perhaps tells you something about the ‘joog joints’ in which the pay music machines were originally installed. The invention was an extension of the coin in the slot self-play piano, with its punched paper rolls, and as technology developed it became possible for the customer to select from as many as eight different records. Soon a counter was introduced, so the proprietor could see which records were popular and which were not, and supply those that would make him the most money.

Wurlitzer juke boxes from the 1940s and 50s are considered cultural icons and are very collectible. The company’s 1946 model sold 56,000 in two years: Wurlitzer had been making juke boxes since the 1890s, so they knew what they were doing. Another famous juke box manufacturer was Seeburg, whose 1952 jukebox could play both sides of 50 records, giving the customers plenty of choice. The only firm still making juke boxes in America today is the one whose founder had such an appropriate name: David Rockola, of the Rock-Ola company.
     
 
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