Jukebox History 1952-1998

The Silver Age of jukeboxes is often described as the period starting with the first 100-selection phonograph, Seeburg M-100-A and -B, introduced by the J. P. Seeburg Corporation in 1948/49, and ending with the last models with visible record changing mechanism in the early sixties. However, it is interesting to note that the first real chrome Silver Age boxes were introduced around 1952, one year after the death of the leading designer of the Golden Age, Paul M. (Malt) Fuller. He died at the Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo on the 29th March, 1951, only 54 years of age.

In the early years of the fifties the Seeburg Corporation (founded in 1902) produced nice machines with pilastres and visible mechanisms, and none of the models had names with the previously used Symphonola prefix. The first one was model M-100-C of 1952, known from the M.A.S.H. series on television, and after that came the somewhat similar HF-100-G and W-100 models of 1953. Very nice jukeboxes and after that a new style in design was tried out. The models HF-100-R Bandshell and HF-100-J of 1954 had a boomerang-shaped top section, and beautyful as they were they became quite popular in cafés and diners. In 1955 the Seeburg company introduced the first American 200-selection jukebox, the model V-200 / VL-200 with Dual Music System, often nicknamed the Towel-rail. At this point in the mid fifties the company was hit by litigation under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and found guilty of operating a closed network of operators and distributors which was judged to impose unreasonable restraint on other tradesmen. Anyway, none of the jukebox cabinets mentioned so far were ever design patented, but it is obvious that they represented a new line after the Symphonolas designed by Nels A. Miller. The next industrial designer to be a well-known jukebox trend-setter for Seeburg was Carl W. Sundberg. It is quite clear that the KD-200 and the L-series of 1957 came from his drawing-board, but his first patented design was filed in November, 1958, The cabinet of model 222 / 220 was the first of a number of patented Sundberg designs in the early sixties. In 1956 the Seeburg family sold out the company activities to Delbert Coleman and the Fort Pitt Industries, and in 1964 the Seeburg Corporation took over the Williams company from industry investors, the Commonwealth United Corp. and the XCor International Inc., and in 1977 the company itself was renamed XCor International (but still known also as the Seeburg Industries). It seems that the Seeburg company was sold again due to financial difficulties among the investors in 1979/80 to become the Seeburg Division of the Stern Electronics Inc. (until March, 1984). Williams, by the way, was extricated at that time. The founder of the Seeburg company, Justinus Percival Sjöberg (born 20th April, 1871), immigrated to the States in 1887, aged 16, and took the name Seeburg when he was granted American citizenship in 1892. Justus P. Seeburg died on the 21st October, 1958, in Stockholm, 87 years of age, and was according to the official archives cremated. His ashes were then sent to the States for burial, and he was not as could be expected buried in Gothenburg (Göteborg) where he was born. Justus P. Seeburg was according to the obituary survived by his second wife Gurli Maria (married in July, 1950), his only son Noel Marshall, and his two grandsons Justus Percival II and Noel Marshall Jr..

During the same period in the early Silver Age, after a difficult start with the models 1432 Rocket, 1434 Super Rocket, and 1436 Fireball, the Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation tried to compete with the Seeburg Corporation, and produced the models, 1442 and 1446, that looked very much like the Seeburgs. They were not design patented, and the same was the case with the nice models 1448, 1452 and 1454, which were produced with minor changes until 1956. The three models were together with the later Tempo series the high points amongst Rock-Ola's output during the Silver Age. After the 1954-56 models came the non-patented models 1455-S and 1458, and finally in 1959 the first and only 'new' David C. Rockola design patented wall-mounted model 1464 was produced.

After Paul M. Fuller left The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, and Joseph J. Clement (designer of Wurlitzer’s smallest barbox, model 2140 nicknamed Frogbox, together with Harry C. Kline Jr. in 1947) had taken over the designing responsibility, there were many new ideas how to catch up with the 100 selections offered by Seeburg. The company introduced several complicated add-on bits to the Simplex mechanism (including the WurliMagic Brain system for the model 1500 to play both 78 and 45rpm records), but most of the models, 1250 of 1950 through 1650A of 1953, failed in the competition. When the new 104-selection model 1700 was introduced in 1954, the company was at a turning point, and finally in 1956, the centenary year of the company, a new elegantly styled 200-selection model 2000 Centennial, came out from the factory. None of the Silver Age models from Wurlitzer were design patented, but it was difficult for competitors to copy the cabinets because they were well matched with the patented carousel mechanism. The company continued with the new elegant style until late in 1957, when the less expensive model 2150 was introduced. After that the Wurlitzers, the models 2200 through 2250, became less elegant in square cabinets. The company was ready for the next decade, the sixties, with a lot of box-shaped jukebox cabinets. However, it is important to mention that the German branch of the company, Deutsche Wurlitzer GmbH, was founded in 1960, and that the European branch started production of the Lyric in 1961. The Lyric was produced with modifications until 1973. During the fifties and sixties Farny Reginald Wurlitzer (born 7th December 1883, deceased 6th May 1972) headed the main company as the last of the three brothers, who had inherited the company after its founder, Franzis Rudolph Wurlitzer, born in Schilbach (Schöneck) in Saxony (born 1st February 1831, deceased 14th January 1914). The other two brothers in the second generation heading the company were Howard Eugene Wurlitzer (born 5th September 1871, deceased 30th October 1928) and Rudolph Henry Wurlitzer (born 31st December 1873, deceased 27th May 1948).

In order to continue the line of the most important jukebox manufacturers of the Silver Age it is now time for a few words about the company AMI, The Automatic Musical Instruments Inc., in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Like the other two big manufacturers AMI was caught a little off guard when Seeburg introduced the 100-selection model in 1948/49, but it was somewhat easier to increase the number of selections on the 'Model 500 Record Changer' up to a total of 120 selections in 45rpm in the models E-120, F-120, and G-120 of the period 1953 until 1956, until a new carousel mechanism was introduced for model G-200 of 1956. The 'Model 500 Record Changer' was based on two original patents filed in October, 1946, by Anthony M. Kasnowich and by Harry Herbert Vanderzee and Robert A. McCallum. Both rather important patents were assigned to AMI, and finally granted in April 1953 and January 1954. The design patent for the model G-200 was filed in September, 1955, by Melvin H. Boldt. Melvin H. Boldt then carried on with the line of eye catching H-, I-, Jubilee- and K-cabinets of 1957-1960 (the G-, H- and the Jubilee-models were copied by European license holders). As the noted president of AMI, John W. Haddock, decided to retire from the jukebox business around 1961, and the Automatic Canteen Company of America had taken over the company administration, a new designer, Jack R. Mell, was consulted. He would soon come up with a strange but beautiful patented cabinet design.

One of the most remarkable productions of the Silver Age, the United Music Corporation, came up with a line of four models in the late fifties. The first two models, the UPA-100 and UPB-100, and the carousel mechanism and finally the design for the Ultra Compact Wall-Box resulted in four patents by Lyndon A. Durant. Raymond Loewy is often related to the design of the United series, but the correct name on the patents is Lyndon A. Durant. The industrial design legend Raymond Loewy was one of the architects of the American Streamline Movement, and his style surely influenced the design of the United jukeboxes. The models, UPA-100, UPB-100, UPC-100, and UPD-100, produced from 1957 until 1961 never became a success, as they were almost unrivalled in the capacity to radiate absolutely nothing, and the Seeburg Corporation finally bought up the company in 1964 (also taking over the Williams company).

A few of the minor American productions in the early fifties can be added here. The Ristaucrat company owned by the three brothers Alfred, Harold, and Arnold Ristau had been active in the very early thirties, but the depression forced them to stop production and sell the Paul H. Smyth Jr. patented mechanism to the Rock-Ola Manufacturing Company. Again in 1950 through 1954 they tried to find a market for small inexpensive machines with the Ristaucrat 45 and S-45, but like the Chicago Coin Hit Parade and the Williams Music Mite there was no immediate nation-wide success although it seems they took the largest share of the market. Later they even tried with a new concept and made a limited number of 50 Ristaucrat models for export. In the early sixties they tried at last with a new style Melodie Vendor, but still without noticeable success, and they ceased production of jukeboxes completely in 1964. The firm H. C. Evans & Co. took over the phonograph division of the Mills Novelty Company in December, 1948, and continued to produce the Constellation model in 1951. After that the company produced the models Jubilee, Century, Holiday, and Jewel until 1955, when the by then liquidated firm was sold to Jose Tabachnik and Abraham Grinberg in Mexico City. The machinery from the factory was then moved to Mexico to become the first real jukebox manufacturing plant in the country. The product names Holiday and Jewel continued after the sale, but the design was nothing to brag about. The first new Mexican model to follow was the Maya. A lot can be said about the American jukebox design of the fifties, and the resemblance with tail-lights and fins of the cars can be found on the Seeburg KD-200 and the Rock-Ola Tempo series. They represented distinct features taken from American fifties automobile culture with a lot of fins and chrome.

Moving on to the sixties the design of music machines became quite different, and a lot of design patents were filed in order to protect the models in competition with the few other big manufacturers on the American market. Especially AMI, now also by the name of Rowe/AMI, and Seeburg used the right to design patent the cabinets. At AMI the two distinct designs for XJ Continental and XJ Lyric were filed for patent in August, 1960, by Jack R. Mell. The XJ Continental is often referred to as the Radar, and both the Lyric and the Continental are much loved today by collectors and enthusiasts. After the two models designed by Jack R. Mell (patents granted in 1962), Melvin H. Boldt took over the trend-setting again at Rowe/AMI, and design patented the following models through the sixties: JAL-200 and JEL-200 (1963), JBM Tropicana (1964), JAN Diplomat (1965), Wall-ette (remote control unit, 1965), MM-1 Music Merchant (1967), CMM-1 Cadette (1968), MM-2 Music Master (1968). After the Music Master the official name of the product line was simply Rowe, and Melvin H. Boldt design patented the following models from 1969 until 1973: MM-3 Music Miracle (1969), MM-4 Trimount (1970) named in honour of Rowe's New England dealer team, MM-5 President Line (1971), the RI-1 line and the TI-1 line (1973). After that Melvin H. Boldt designed the following models around 1980/81: R-82 Woodhue (1980), R-83 Claremont (1981), and finally the R-84 Prelude (1981). Year in parenthesis indicates the year the patent was granted. One Rowe design of the era, however, had other names attached to it: The front panel for the CDII Cadette de Luxe Violetta was filed for design patent by Walter L. Koch and Robert P. Franklin in 1971 and the patent was granted in 1973. Most models of the eighties clearly show the lines from the Boldt-designed boxes. Some trendy styles were the R-85 Starlight (1981), R-86 Blue Magic (1982), and the Sapphire series (R-87 through R-92) leading to the new compact-disc era of jukeboxes that started around 1987.

At Seeburg the following models were design patented by Carl W. Sundberg in the very early sixties: Q100 and Q160 (1960) plus the 3W100 Wall-O-Matic (remote control unit, 1960). James Cameron Gordon (sales president) and Theodore A. Dobson, however, designed the DS100 and DS160 (1962). Mahlon W. Kenney (principal engineer for decades) and Carl W. Sundberg designed the following remote control unit, the Consolette SCH-1 (1963), and Carl W. Sundberg and Theodore A. Dobson designed the LPC-1 and LPC-1R phonograph cabinets (1963). The following model, the LPC-480, was designed by William C. Prutting (1964). William G. Broman and Theodore A. Dobson designed the PFEAIU Electra and APFEAI Fleetwood (1965/66) and after that Carl W. Sundberg designed both the SS-160 Stereo Showcase (1967) and the S-100 Phono-Jet (1967). It is interesting to note that the Phono-Jet model came out as a mirror image of the patented design. After the 1967 models Raoul E. Rodriguez and Carl W. Sundberg designed the LS1 Spectra (1968), and Carl W. Sundberg alone designed the following two models, the LS2 Gem (1969) and LS3 Apollo (1970). The Golden Jet (1970) was designed by William G. Broman. In 1971 Carl W. Sundberg finally assigned the patent for the Seeburg Apollo Consolette (a wall mounted selector unit) to the production company Walter E. Heller & Co. in Chicago. In the following decade, the seventies, there were a few additional patented designs from Seeburg: The USC1 Musical Bandshell (1971) was designed by Robert A. O'Neil alone, and the following Marauder SX-100 (1972), the FC1 Regency (1973), and the SB100 Magna Star (1975/76) were all designed by Robert A. O'Neil in collaboration with Michael C. Wilson. Some of the other trendy designs of the seventies (after Carl W. Sundberg) and eighties were not patented by the Seeburg company. For example the SPS Olympian (1972) and SPS2 Matador, FC1 Regency (1973), STD Vogue II (1974), STD2 Entertainer (1975), Sunstar (1976), SMC1 Disco (1978), SMC3 Prelude (1984), and the compact-disc play Crusader (1986/87) followed by the new, nostalgic style. The SMC3 Prelude was the first model after the Seeburg Division of the Stern Electronics Inc. had been purchased in March, 1984, by the new Seeburg Phonograph Corporation formed by a group of industry investors including Noel Marshall Seeburg Jr. (3rd generation of the founding family). In the early nineties the firm was renamed Seeburg International, also known as the Seeburg Manufacturing & Supply Company owned by the Seeburg Satellite Broadcasting Corporation (1998). Since then the company has left the scene completely.

None of the models from the other two big jukebox companies, the Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation and The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, were design patented in the sixties and seventies. It seems strange because there were so many models produced at both companies. It seems that the major manufacturers including Rock-Ola and Wurlitzer were slightly behind the current design trends in the late sixties and early seventies. It was obvious, however, that the cabinet design was considered an important component of the complete product when sound transmission really was a factor. Plastic, that had been at first a novelty, was in the sixties a necessary component material, but jukeboxes were moved from one location to the other, and literally had to be built to withstand the beating they were constantly subjected to during transport. At Wurlitzer it was simply a matter of building a cabinet with or without plastic that enhanced the tone, protected the mechanism, was durable, attractive, and that would blend with any location decor, and still allowed the finished jukebox to be sold at a reasonable price. In the sixties Wurlitzer produced several box-shaped machines, for example models 2600 through 3000, the 3100 Americana, the Satellite, and finally 3600 SuperStar and 3700 Americana III. The last try by Wurlitzer came in 1973/74 with the unique limited edition revival of vintage phonograph styling, the model 1050 Nostalgia using the electromechanical selector unit, known as Wurlamatic, developed by Frank B. Lumney and Ronald P. Eberhardt around 1967 (patented in September, 1972). The 1050 Nostalgia is often referred to as the 'swan song' for the American Wurlitzer (production run of 2,000 ended in December, 1973), and the company finally stopped production with the model 3800 in 1974 leaving a legacy of wonderful music machines. At that time Deutsche Wurlitzer GmbH, a division of the corporation, had already manufactured the Carousel model for the American market, and continued production of the following models with modifications until the mid eighties: Cabaret, Atlanta, Baltic, Lyric, Tarock, X2, Niagara, X5, X7, and X9 (X200), Cabarina, Carillon, Silhouette, Estrella, Barcarole, Caravelle, Fuego, the Tele-Disc model nicknamed the Flying Saucer, and finally the SL200. Some of them had rather psychedelic colour decor to attract attention.

Rock-Ola, however, never stopped production although the cabinets became very discreet, designed to blend into the background rather than be the focus of attention. During the sixties, through the seventies, and into the eighties the company produced a lot of models. The 418 Rhapsody II of 1964 was the last one of the era with visible mechanism through the front glass. After that came the following models, all with the new Mech-O-Matic mechanism: 426 Grand Prix, 429 Starlet, 431 Coronado, 433 GP/Imperial, 434 Concerto, 435 Princess Deluxe, 436 Centura, 437 Ultra, and the 441 Deluxe Compact plus a few modified models with different numbers. In the seventies Rock-Ola produced the styles 442 (1970) through 471 (1976), and then the Sybaris and Mystic models in 1978. Those two models had like some of the Wurlitzer models rather psychedelic colour decor. It is interesting to note that Donald C. Rockola, the son of David Cullen Rockola, developed and filed the patent for the special 506 Tri-Vue Wallbox in 1972. Donald C. Rockola also developed a few other, important jukebox cabinet details for the Rock-Ola company during the seventies and eighties. The last two patents by Donald C. Rockola (and Shuja Haque) for an album cover display kit for the model 498 of 1989 to make it a 45rpm/compact-disc combination machine, and a compact-disc holding mechanism for the new model 2000 of 1990, were both filed in 1989, when Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation moved into the compact-disc jukebox era. In the period from 1978 until the mid eighties the following models had been produced by the Rock-Ola company: Max 477, Techna 480, Vista 488, Super Sound 490, and Encore 494 (1987). In 1987 the company even tried with something new 'old' stuff, namely the 'exciting, vintage look' of the Wurlitzer 1050. The original model made in 1973 had not been design patented, and it is obvious that both Wurlitzer and Rock-Ola found no reason to protect the cabinet designs, as there had to be a new attraction, a new jukebox, every year with the company name on it. The Wurlitzer 1050 design was also marketed around 1979/80 with the brand name Sonata 1050 Nostalgia by the Corporacion Sonata S.A. in Mexico (with a sales division in Culver City, California). The Mexican company purchased the remains of the Wurlitzer company in 1975, but the new nostalgic 100-selection jukebox was no real success, and the Wurlitzer named company became part of the Nelson Group of Companies in 1985. Since then, in the late nineties, the structure of the company has changed, and the main office is again situated in America, in Gurnee in Illinois to be exact. The other major company, the Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation, was finally sold out to the Antique Apparatus Company in September, 1992, shortly before David Cullen Rockola died at the age of 96 years, but the name Rock-Ola lives on into the next millennium due to a line of well-designed jukeboxes. The history of most of the modern American jukebox manufacturers can be found and studied in the great books by Frank Adams, published 1983 through 1991 by AMR Publishing in Arlington, Washington.

The history of the audio/visual jukeboxes of the sixties is also rather interesting. There were a few registered and patented designs in the States and in Europe. The well-known film jukeboxes, the Scopitone ST-16 and Scopitone ST-36, were made in France in the very late fifties and early sixties. Later the version called Scopitone 450 was produced by Tel-A-Sign Inc. in Chicago, but the machines were never as successful as expected. The first original patent for the Scopitone was filed in July,1956, by the firm Cie d'Applications Mécaniques à l'Électronique au Cinéma et à l'Atomistique, also called CAMECA, 103 Boulevard Saint-Denis in Courbevoie, later located at 79 Boulevard Haussmann in Saint-Denis (both northern suburbs to Paris), and the last of the four known, registered patents by Jacques Guernet and CAMECA was granted as late as January, 1966. The basic patent, however, was filed by the Italian Teresio Dessilani on the 22nd December, 1958. The company CAMECA was in fact an affiliation of the Compagnie Générale de T.S.F. (Télégraphie Sans Fil). The name Scopitone was an amalgam of the two Greek words scopein and tonos meaning to observe and the way musical notes come together and move apart on a scale, and the first machine, the ST-16, was presented to the press on the 28th March, 1960, and after that to the public at the 'Foire de Paris', 14th-29th May, 1960, by the engineer Frédéric Mathieu, who was also the general manager of CAMECA. After the Scopitone patents there were at least two other interesting film jukebox designs in the sixties. The European design related to the Cinebox machines was filed for patent in 1964 by Angelo Bottani in Milan, Italy, and the model was probably also manufactured by Società Internazionale Fonovisione S.P.A. in Milan. The 40-selection Cinebox machines were also made on license in France, and the Colorama (Cinevision) version was marketed by Intersphere Development Corp., an affiliation of the Estey Electronics Inc., in America without immediate success. One important feature of the Cinebox compared to the Scopitone was of course an Advertising Message Repeater, a device flashing paid advertising messages from slides onto the screen whenever the machine was idle. The very first Cinebox was in fact presented to the press in Paris on the 25th February, 1960, by Société Internationale de Phonovision (French subsidiary of the Italian firm), and shown to the public at the 'Foire de Paris' in May (same time as the Scopitone). The Cinebox was as a matter of fact invented by the company Società Internazionale Fonovisione in Rome (later Milan), Italy, in the autumn 1959. The machine was based on the original patent filed on the 12th October, 1959, by Raffaello Nistri. In America, however, Henry A. Schwartz filed the design patent for the Color-Sonic, also known as the Combi 150, in 1966, and the patent was assigned to the company Color-Sonics Inc. alias National Company Inc. in New York. The Color-Sonic machines were manufactured at the facilities of the National Company Inc. in Melrose, Massachusetts. The other French machines of the same era, the 50-selection Cinématic 50 for Super-8mm, and the 28-selection Cinématic model for 16mm, both made by Société Française De Radio Télévision, 72 rue Marceau in Montreuil near Vincennes a little east of the French capital, and the 28-selection Caravelle Tele Box for 16mm made by CIFA, 72 Boulevard du Montparnasse in the 14th district of Paris, were as far as it is known today not design patented. The idea of film jukeboxes was certainly not new. The concept can in fact be traced direct back to the Edison Kinetoscope equipped with synchronized sound (1895) and the first real coin-op moving picture machines patented in 1908 by Henry K. Sandell (an immigrant Swede) and in 1909 by Herbert Stephen Mills of Mills Novelty Co. in Chicago. Known as the manufacturer of the famous 16mm, non-select, 8-film Mills Panoram of the forties designed by Everett B. Eckland. The 'reverse title' or 'rear projection' Mills Panoram was presented to the public in Chicago in December, 1939, and the model became more popular and long-lived than other coin-op motion picture machines of the era like the Vis-O-Graph made by the famous camera maker Ampro Corporation in Chicago, the Pic-a-Tune made by the Phono-Kinema Company in Los Angeles, and of course the 16mm 'reverse title', non-select, 10-film Phonovision introduced by the Phonovision Corporation of America also located in Los Angeles, a company that unfortunately had to fold very early in the process due to lack of capital. A few design patents related to those machines are known today, and especially the one filed for patent in 1941 by Abraham Shapiro and assigned to Ampro Corporation is very nice, and looks to some extent like the Panoram. The coin-op audio/visual music machines, that combined the eye-appeal of the motion picture with the ear-appeal of the automatic phonograph, have a history of their own, but they will always be part of the jukebox history. The story can be found in several essays and articles, and among them the essay entitled "The Archaeology of the Music Video: Soundies, Snader Telescriptions, and Scopitones" by Gregory Lukow published in "National Video Festival, Los Angeles: American Film Institute, Dec., 1986", and the article entitled "Boxes of Sight and Sound" by Russell Ofria Jr., published 1983 in the American "Nickel A Tune" magazine. Other sources of information are of course the book entitled "Scopitone" by Gerold F. Koehler and Linda L. Koehler, published 1978 by the authors, and the "Scopitone Newsletter" published for many years by Fred Bingaman in Manchester, Missouri, which indeed contains a lot of valuable information about audio/visual jukeboxes.

There were also a few other important patented European jukebox designs of the sixties and seventies. The first one that deserves to be mentioned here is the design for the Chantal Panoramic (also called Enigma or Météore) by André Alexandre Deriaz of Morat (Murten) in Switzerland. The design for the Gramophone Automatique (the Chantal Panoramic) was filed for patent on the 10th April, 1959, and extended in 1964 (ending 1969). The model is often referred to as the Ice-cream cone and has acquired cult status among collectors today. The Chantal was produced for nearly a decade until the early or mid sixties by different companies. First of all of course by the company Derac S.A. in Morat, Switzerland, headed by André Alexandre Deriaz and Jean Theodore Foufounis (represented by the firm Padorex S.A. in Lausanne), then on license by Ets. G.B.G. in Courbevoie, a western suburb to Paris in France (represented by the firm S.E.M., Société des Electrophones Météore, 8 rue de Montyon in Paris), and finally on license by the British firm Frenchy Products Co., Small Street, St. Philips in Bristol, which was also known for production of aircraft components (represented by the firm Chantal Ltd., Station Road, Kingswood in Bristol, headed by David H. C. Fry). The history of the Chantal, named after Jean Foufounis' wife, is well described in the book "Swiss Jukebox Art" by Franz Urs Linder. The Chantal is also claimed to have been the world's first 200-selection jukebox, as it was tested in a restaurant in 1954 (a year before the Seeburg Corporation introduced the model V-200 in America).

In Germany there were a few patented designs of NSM jukeboxes manufactured in the early seventies. The two registered designers were Wilhelm Menke and Horst Friedrich, and both had two patents granted. Wilhelm Menke filed one design patent on the last day of 1968 (the Prestige 120) and one in September, 1970 (the Prestige 160 B). The two patents were granted in 1973 and 1971, respectively, and Horst Friedrich had the other two patented designs for the Consul 130/160 series granted in 1972. The NSM company was founded in 1952 by Herbert Nack, Gerhard W. Schulze, and Wilhelm Menke (Nack and Schulze had operated amusement machines together in Braunschweig since 1949), and the company became a well-known jukebox manufacturer due to the Fanfare-60, -100, -120, and -Silber series of 1956 through 1961. The last of the NSM models of the Silver Age was the Serenade alias Stereo Magic (brand name for export) in 1963. Today, in the late nineties, the German NSM factory is considered the largest jukebox manufacturer in the world, and Wilhelm Menke et al. of NSM have been granted the most recent design patent for the Sapphire compact-disc jukebox in February, 1999. The history of the NSM company in Bingen a/Rhein is like that of other European manufacturers described in detail in the great book "The Ultimate Jukebox Guide 1927-1974" by Ian Brown, Nigel Hutchins, and Gerry Mizera (published 1994). Another important source related to the research on jukebox design is an article entitled "The Art of the Jukebox" with interesting thoughts published 1996 by Lesley Winward in the 15th issue of the British magazine "The Record Machine". In the article the author takes a look at the background to classic jukebox cabinet decor and design.

In the latter half of the eighties, in 1986/87, the Deutsche Wurlitzer GmbH tried again with the Paul M. Fuller nostalgic design, marketing the Wurlitzer 1015 OMT (One More Time), and the new model became an immediate success. The OMT-model was introduced with a new compact-disc mechanism in 1989. At this moment, late in the nineties, the American main office of the Wurlitzer Jukebox Company has moved to Gurnee in Illinois, but the production facility is still located in Stemwede-Levern in Germany. Rock-Ola, however, tried in 1987 as mentioned previously with a new version of the 1973 Wurlitzer 1050 design and called it the Rock-Ola Nostalgia 1000. Although the 160-selection model was introduced late autumn 1986 as a 'truly sense-sational' model, the cabinet was still too heavy and did not have the elegance of the classic Wurlitzer 1015 of 1946/47. Today several manufacturers in Europe and America reproduce the classic Fuller design. NSM in Bingen a/Rhein, Germany, even uses the term 'the Concorde of nostalgia jukeboxes' in the sales campaign for the NSM Nostalgia Gold, which has an extremely fast changer mechanism, but it is always the cabinet design that really matters. In America model names like Rock-Ola Bubbler Nostalgic (now produced by the Antique Apparatus Company, a leading exponent of the amalgamation of vintage design and hi-tech sound), Rowe/AMI LaserStar Nostalgia (voted #1 compact-disc jukebox by American operators), and even Seeburg Classic (the models SCCD-1 and -2) can be found on nostalgic jukeboxes. In England the manufacturing company Sound Leisure Ltd., 39 Ings Road in Leeds (founded in 1978 by Alan J. Black and Kevin E. Moss) has been known for years for its very elegant and Fuller inspired reproduction antique jukeboxes, especially the latest Manhattan and Gazelle series. The company amazed the public at the ATEI exhibition (held at Earls Court in London a year or two ago) with a demonstration of the world's first digital satellite down loading video touch screen jukebox, and it will be interesting to follow the development of the British company in the years to come. The company received the Best Jukebox Award for 1998 in Britain (the Starlite 21 model) and for the second year in 1999. Also in England, back in 1978 by the way, David R. Wilcox filed a design patent for a 160 selection phonograph cabinet that looked very much like the Seeburg Musical Bandshell of 1971 (assigned to the Associated Leisure Games Ltd., and named Fantasia), and ten years later, in 1988, Bernard Hart filed a design patent for a compact-disc jukebox (assigned to the Arbiter Group Plc., and named Discmaster 60). Finally, in 1990 Ivor Arbiter filed three design patents for modern style, full size and wall-mounted compact-disc jukeboxes (all three assigned to Your Electronics Specialists Ltd.). Despite the fact, that different companies (including Rowe International with the design patented Starlet / Wallstar remote selector unit of 1992) try to find new ways of attracting patrons, it will be interesting to see for how many years the Paul M. Fuller classic design of 1946 will be able to stay on the market for popular musical entertainment. The Fuller-design seems to have started a never ending story, and today's jukebox history with the great re-birth of classic design may be just as exciting as the past. As the noted historian Dick Bueschel once wrote: "...There's one difference. You're living in it, and that makes you part of the passing parade, and a participant in the living history of the machine we covet and enjoy!...".

The editor will conclude this short historical survey by mentioning, that a rather interesting design patent was granted in England only a decade ago (1994). Stephen K. Joynes used the rear of a Morris Mascot (the Mini) as the cabinet for a jukebox, probably well inspired by the Songbird jukebox introduced in 1989 by the Carson City Parlour Enterprises in Shakopee, Minnesota (a copy of the tail section of a classic Ford Thunderbird of 1957). The historical survey has of course not yet been completed, and it is interesting to note that only a few years ago in America the Seeburg Manufacturing & Supply Company was rocking the planet with the newest hi-tech jukebox, the Seeburg Millennium for the year 2000, and in Europe the British Sound Leisure Ltd. produced an interesting line of timeless, wall-mounted, high-quality jukeboxes like the Star Dust, Nite Scene, and Lime Lite models with 21st Century Mechanism. The mechanism was introduced in 1997 as the simplest commercial compact-disc mechanism in the world. The other manufacturers of commercial jukeboxes in both America and Europe also try of course to create new eye-appealing styles without features from the famed Golden Age design of the forties. For example the style of the Wurlitzer Rainbow (with the industry-first 120 compact-disc mechanism) and the Wurlitzer Rave On, and the style of the Rowe Encore and wall-mounted Rowe Berkeley and Sunrise models. All produced around the turn of the century.

Considering the above mentioned models and designs, the following question might still be asked in the early morning hours among operators and patrons in the juke-joints: Will there ever again be a really new, revolutionary era in jukebox design? It is the editor's opinion, that one of the first steps towards a new design era was taken in 1998 by Christian Bökenkamp in Germany, a student then at the Berlin University of the Arts (Hochschule der Künste Berlin). Christian Bökenkamp created a marvellous, unique 1:1 model of a wall-mounted jukebox for the theme Gestaltung einer Musikbox completing his course of study in industrial design. The unique 1:1 model has unfortunately not been preserved for the future. The story continues, and it will be interesting to study the developments in both the digital satellite down loading units and the new DVD-units with space for 600 audio/video titles and 1,000 audio-only titles, and especially to study the design ideas for the cabinets in the years to come. There will undoubtedly be enough material for a new chapter in the history of jukeboxes.

Gert J. Almind