Jukebox Production in
history of 'modern' jukebox production in
looking back at the period of the forties and fifties, it is obvious that many
local artists and musicians had advantages derived from music boxes. As an
example one particular artist in
As mentioned previously two American jukeboxes were the first electrically amplified 'modern' music boxes in Denmark. However, the editor of this site does not consider the early coin operated automatic phonographs, but it is important to remember that the first officially known nickel-in-the-slot machine (an electric Edison Class M Phonograph with coin slot attachment) was presented to the press in Copenhagen on the 9th February, 1894, only about four years after the first coin-op phonograph was demonstrated in the States. The coin-op phonograph, named Fonografavtomat by the press, was introduced by the wholesaler Gottfried Moses Ruben (1837-1897). Ruben was since September 1889 the general representative in Scandinavia for the Edison phonograph company together with his business partner Theodor Valdemar Cornelius-Knudsen, a well known instrument maker (1844-1920).
major slot-machine operator in
However, Ziirsen was not the first to get the idea of producing music boxes locally. An engineer, Edvard Agner Køj Petersen, had become aware of music boxes a few years before. It might well have been a short sequence in a film during the war that gave him the idea, and late in the evenings he made the drawings for a cabinet and a complete 40-selection mechanism for a jukebox later to be called Lytrofon Musikautomat. The machine could, however, not be produced until after 1947/48 due to the lack of tools and the rationing of various material as a consequence of the war. The last of the three known Lytrofon music box designs called Bluebird was produced around 1956. The total number of Lytrofon-boxes produced is unknown, and only very few have been preserved by collectors.
the development of Atofon, which was very
typical maybe even American in design of the era, Tage
Engbæk tried to develop a very unique mechanism
driven by hydraulic pressure. It was no immediate success, and Tage Engbæk waited a few years
before he tried again. Then he managed in cooperation with engineer Niels Overgaard to develop a stable hydraulic mechanism,
which has never been seen before or after in the history of jukeboxes. Both Tage Engbæk and Niels Overgaard, who for years had been working in a firm
owned by Kai Ginge Nielsen, were experts in the use
of hydraulic pressure. The 48-selection Superno
Automat-Grammofon with an amplifier built by
Johannes Jacobsen was made in the very early fifties in the small town Kirke-Værløse outside
This story has of course to deal with the most important of the Danish jukebox productions. The Jensen Music Box produced by the company Jensen & Hoffmann A/S in Copenhagen is well-known today by collectors all over the world. The production was initiated a few years after the war, when the engineer Edwin Karl Jensen got in touch again with engineer Jørgen Mølkier and other people that he had known in the thirties. They had all been interested in audio equipment for many years. Who would have believed then in the late forties, that the production in Copenhagen would turn out to be the largest of its kind in Europe less than ten years later, and that music machines with the name Jensen Music Box would be exported worldwide, at least to more than thirty countries.
first model A from Jensen & Hoffmann A/S, which was a hide-away
model, was only produced as a prototype in a number of two or three. One of
them is preserved today by a collector in Sweden. The next models J-20-B
and -C were nicknamed Linie 4
due to red and green lights on the front. The combination of red and green
lights was used on tramcars on line
The Jensen company, better known today as IMA/AMI, which indeed was the most important manufacturer during the Danish jukebox era, made the following full size jukeboxes from 1951 until the end of 1955: J-40-A, J-40-B, J-80, and the rather impressive J-120 Music Box.
Especially the Jensen IMA/AMI J-120 Music Box was a very nice machine with corner plastics and rotating colour cylinders. All the Jensen models from 1951 until 1955 had cabinets of zebrano veneer, and the mechanisms did look very much like the AMI 'model 500 record changer', They were all produced at the same time, but the total number of machines produced at the factory is unknown today as the serial number registrations were destroyed in the late sixties.
The illuminated Jensen IMA/AMI J-120 Music Box and Lytrofon Bluebird produced during the same period (1955/56) were the aces among Danish jukeboxes. Both of them had cabinets of zebrano veneer, corner plastics, and rotating colour cylinders, and they brought with them a very cosy atmosphere in the local bars and restaurants.
Later in the fifties Jensen Music Automates A/S, which was the official name of the company during the heydays, the period between 1954 and 1958, produced the following models: J-40-G, J-80-G, and J-80-H. They all had a certain resemblance to the American G- and H-models from Automatic Musical Instruments Inc. (AMI). The managers of the two companies in question, Edwin Karl Jensen and John W. Haddock, had signed a kind of license agreement in the year 1954. AMI was together with Seeburg, Rock-Ola, and of course Wurlitzer called the 'big four' among jukebox manufacturers worldwide. Jensen Music Automates A/S could then very well be called the 'big one' on the European market for a short period in the mid fifties.
John W. Haddock had at a trade fair in Antwerp in Belgium in 1952/53 become aware of the fact, that the Danish firm made jukebox mechanisms similar to the 'model 500 record changer', but he believed that a lawsuit might not be profitable (the mechanism by AMI was based on two patents originally filed in 1946, but both patents were not internationally accepted until April 1953 and January 1954). That was, however, believed to be only one good reason for the license agreement signed by Haddock and Jensen. Another reason why John W. Haddock and AMI wanted an agreement with the Danish company was most probably that a very fine amplifier, type U-58, had been developed by Jørgen Mølkier for the J-20 and early J-40-models. The amplifier gave the Jensen music boxes a remarkably good sound, and the license agreement would be an advantage for both companies. In 1958 the production of jukeboxes came to an end, and the Jensen company changed its name to Jensen Music & Television A/S. The last four years until 1962/63 the company produced television sets mainly for the domestic market, but heavy losses on a few big customers forced the firm into liquidation at the end of the year 1962. As mentioned before the total number of jukeboxes from the Jensen company is unknown today due to the unfortunate fact, that all factory registrations were lost in the late sixties.
Next to the manufacturers Bøgh & Egholm, Superno, Lytrofon, and of course the Jensen company, there were a few other minor productions around during the fifties. Some of them made Danish cabinets for imported mechanisms, and among those productions in the area of Copenhagen were music boxes made by Svend Jarlstrøm, who imported mechanisms through foreign amusement park connections. Another manufacturer was Bent Hansen, who made boxes for the local operator Sigv. Hufeldt.
Bent Hansen, who was indeed a very good furniture maker, made the boxes called Luna-Box in the basement under a restaurant owned by Sigv. Hufeldt. The number of boxes produced is unknown today, but they were according to reliable information to be found in Copenhagen in the early years of the sixties. The boxes made by the company owned by Svend Jarlstrøm are also reasonably unknown today. The editor does know, however, that the firm was registered for many years within the slot-machine and jukebox trade.
In this line of minor productions the editor has to mention the Derby production near Aarhus, Jutland. The company wanted to make a total of thirty jukeboxes with the Derby-emblem on the front, but only one prototype was made and used in the canteen at the factory itself. The promoter of the production was Willy Johannsen, who was a well-known owner of restaurants and manufacturer of mopeds in the fifties and sixties. In addition, he also produced television sets, and employees at that particular factory unit a little north of the city Aarhus developed and designed the prototype of the Derby-jukebox in 1956. Unfortunately the box is no longer to be found, but a few retired employees remembered the box in the corner of the canteen.
in the year 1960 towards the end of the era of Danish music boxes another small
production of cabinets took place in
most pioneers related to the jukebox era in
The Danish jukebox history is interesting, but of course only a part of the European history dealing with hundreds of manufacturers. They were all in the fifties and sixties and certainly since then important to the European cultural heritage, and today books and trade newsletters deal worldwide with both the American and the European history in order to preserve information for future generations. Unfortunately, one of the leading historians, Richard M. Bueschel, passed away on the 19th April, 1998, and left behind an unpublished 343 page manuscript entitled "Let the Other Guy Play It!". It is the hope of the editor that Dick's daughter(s) and a publishing company in the States will finish Dick Bueschel's fantastic work.
Gert J. Almind