Does anyone remember the tabletop jukeboxes that were once a part of the Diner experience? I have fond memories of going with my family to the L & K restaurant or local diner and flipping thru the pages for music to pick out. My sister and I would beg my parents for a dime or a quarter to play some songs. I always wondered how the music got programmed when all you needed to do was press a letter and a number and the song would play.
Recently at a friend’s home, I spotted one of these babies which they bought at an auction. Imagine my surprise when they told me they sell adapter kits that will hook these up to an mp3 player. How cool is that? I had some serious jukebox envy going on let me tell you.
I am serious about acquiring one of these for home. My only concern is the availability of parts and who would service it if it breaks. I would want one of the old Wurlitzer models probably, with the colored lights. Sure I have an MP3 player and a turntable as well as a receiver in our home but just the energy and nostalgia alone of owning a jukebox excites me.
What is the fascination with jukeboxes?
Jukeboxes got their start as an automated phonograph. I had one of those too growing up, it looked like a little suitcase. It had the turntable with the little adapter used to play 45s. To this day I still own a turntable and love playing my vinyl record collection. I truly believe there is a difference in the sound of vinyl vs a CD. The lights and sound must have been so intoxicating to those who had the chance to experience this fad.
So how did they work?
Inside a jukebox, records were stacked inside the machine, suspended in individual rings called carriers. When you made a selection, a select bar rose along the stack until arriving at the right record; then the appropriate carrier swung out from the stack. Finally, the turntable would rise up to the record, begin spinning it and lower the needle to begin playback.
Enter the 1990’s and Compact Discs (CDs) replaced records, the mechanisms for changing the songs stayed pretty much the same as records, however, CD Format offered far more selection.
Jukeboxes keep evolving just like any other technology. Nowadays there are internet-connected machines that let you play pretty much any song you can imagine. Some I have heard even have karaoke capabilities. They are also touch screen and accept credit cards. I am guessing a song selection will cost you much more than $0.10 though!
Due to copyright and licensing issues many artists and songs are not available for download. With a CD-jukebox though anyone could load CDs with any music they prefer.
These days, with the onset of digital media and all the contraptions we have, the music culture has evolved, allowing us to listen to our gadgets in both solitude as well as in large groups.
Just think how things will evolve in say the next 25 years.