Many Americans grew up in an era before you could instantly hear any song that you wanted to hear straight from your phone or other electronic devices. Instead, we lived in a time where you went to the diner or bar to queue up your favorite tunes on the jukebox. While much of the magic of that time is gone today, you can still listen to jukeboxes in fun locations throughout the country. See how the jukebox — the staple of American culture — got its start and became a part of so many good memories over the years.

Who Invented the Jukebox?

Believe it or not, the jukebox was first used in a phonograph parlor over 100 years ago by Louis Glass and William S. Arnold. November 23, 1889, in San Francisco, they opened the Palais Royal Saloon and allowed people to listen to a single song that reverberated through several small tubes. This coin-operated Edison Class M Electric Phonograph was the simple introduction to today’s high-tech digital jukeboxes and started Americans’ love affair with “live” music. 

The brightly flashing lights and big sound of the Wurlitzer 1015 jukebox, introduced in 1946, is the first contemporary version of what people picture in their mind as a jukebox. Over half a century after the introduction of the first jukebox, the Wurlitzer defined an era of sock hops and hot music.

Bright Lights, Big City

The brightly flashing lights and big sound of the Wurlitzer 1015 jukebox, introduced in 1946, is the first contemporary version of what people picture in their mind as a jukebox. Over half a century after the introduction of the first jukebox, the Wurlitzer defined an era of sock hops and hot music. The bubble tubes and colored lights often formed the heart of a local ice cream parlor or sandwich shop, enticing kids of all ages to drop in a coin to hear their favorite songs. While kids and young adults loved the jukebox, parents became concerned with the popularity of swing and jazz music — giving the fun-loving music a slightly seedy reputation. 

The Rise of the Digital Jukebox

Before there was iTunes, which launched in 2001, there was TouchTunes — a 1998 version of the internet-enabled digital jukebox that began popping up in locations throughout North America. There were a few other music machines in this era, but few lasted long enough to make an impression on society as a whole. Many of the older jukeboxes are retrofitted with digital music options to bring the jukebox to a new generation. The introduction of iTunes at the Macworld Expo touted the software as the best and easiest to use jukebox software. The ability of users to manage their digital tunes directly from their Mac was considered a huge boon. 

Jukeboxes have long formed a centerpiece of American culture, which you can still experience today at MOTR Pub! Our jukebox is always free, and new music is constantly being added for your enjoyment. Come visit and enjoy live music seven nights a week, great food with a kitchen that’s open to 1 a.m. every day and of course, great tunes on the jukebox! 

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