Coin-operated electric phonographs with a choice of records became available in the 1920s. They were called jukeboxes from “jook-joint”, black American slang for a dance hall.
Early jukeboxes had simple wood veneer cabinets until 1937, when Paul Fuller designed the Wurlitzer Model 24, featuring backlit moulded plastic. Soon the other major manufacturers, Seeburg, Rock-Ola and AMI followed suit.
Fanciful chrome and nickel grilles were added and, in 1940, Wurlitzer introduced “bubble tubes”, sealed glass tubes full of liquid in which gas bubbles rose and fell under the influence of the beat of the music.
Production was halted during the War by rationing of plastic, metal and shellac. After the War, the emphasis turned to jukeboxes capable of playing many more records. In 1948, Seeburg introduced their Model 100A which could play both sides of 50 records, more than twice as many as any other jukebox. Achieving this meant long, low designs rather than tall, narrow ones. The brightly lit cabinets were replaced by metal and plastic designs reflecting the designs seen in cars and science fiction movies of the 1950s.
In 1950, the Seeburg 100B adapted the successful Model 100A to play 7-inch, 45rpm singles rather than 78rpm records. Jukeboxes which played 78s were completely out of production by the mid1950s.