Ninety-nine percent of the world's lovers are not with their first choice. That's what makes the jukebox play.



The First Jukeboxes

In 1899 the first jukebox-like establishment opened in America, the ‘phonograph parlour’ in San Francisco. The customer paid a nickel, then spoke into a speaking tube to select a record. A man in the basement played the record to you through a listening tube. The idea spread to many cities, but was soon replaced.

The first jukebox proper was Edison's nickel-in-the-slot phonograph. Patrons could each grab one of the stethoscope-like tubes and listen to the same tune. Towels were supplied to patrons so they could wipe off the end of the tube after each listening.

The jukebox was installed in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco and earned over $1,000 in its first month.

Early jukeboxes were often kept behind the bar to stop patrons from taking them apart to see how they worked.

W. H. AUDEN (1907-73)

War has become like a juke-box tune that we dare not stop.

The Rise of the Discotheque

The word disco comes from ‘discotheque’ the name of a single club in Nazi-occupied Paris. The word, a portmanteau of disc (record) and bibliotheque (library) was given to the club that was forced underground by the Nazi ban on jazz: since it could not hire jazz musicians, it was only playing records. 
At the end of the war, the phenomenon spread everywhere: after all, it was also cheaper to play a record than to hire a band, and dancers would rather listen to a set of different styles from different musicians than to a set played by the same band. 

In 1947 Paul Pacine opened 'Whiskey a Go-Go’ in Paris which would later become the first place to progress from a jukebox to a live DJ. The idea moved to the USA in the 1960s: the first New York disco was the ‘Peppermint Lounge’, opened in 1961, and the first California disco was the ‘Whiskey-A-Go-Go’, which opened in 1965 on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. 

Wicked Joints

The word juke-box was originally US slang for a brothel. The word likely comes from the West African word joog meaning disorderly or wicked. 

Brothels, also known as juke-joints or juke-houses, often played music and so when the new sound-systems were invented, the public adopted the name. For a long time the commercial jukebox trade resisted and even tried to raise a big publicity fund to wage a national campaign against it.


You ought to see the new barmaid, if you can call her that. The first time I saw her I thought it were a jukebox.

Gold record discs only have about 0.03g of gold on them, worth approximately 67p.

The first Japanese tape-recorder had a tape made of paper and was sold to a noodle-shop for use as a karaoke machine.