The most expensive and most wanted jukeboxes are build in the forties and fifties. These decades would produce two kinds of jukeboxes; the 78 RPM and de 45 RPM jukebox. These boxes used to be sold to restaurants or bars to make a profit on playing music. By making the appearance of the jukeboxes more attractive for people to watch, the jukebox companies expected these machines to make more profits. A problem of these stylish jukeboxes was although that they were very vulnerable to changes in fashion. By making another model every year, much like the big car manufacturers in those days, jukebox manufacturers would overcome this problem. Older jukeboxes were, despite these fast developments, still visible in the streets. Only the more respectable establishments would be able to buy the newer jukeboxes, while others would rent jukeboxes or buy secondhand jukeboxes. Jukejoints were among the places which couldn’t afford new jukeboxes, so they were among the places with older boxes.
These jukejoints would typically be places were one wouldn’t come if one were of middleclass or higher; much of these places were typically flooded with drugs and crime, because of the low paid or unemployed customers visiting these places. While the jukebox manufacturers would try to keep jukeboxes out of these places, because they typically promoted their fabrications as being for respectable establishments, the irony was that it would be those places that gave the jukebox their name. The manufacturers would keep calling the jukebox “automatic music machine” for a long time, while finally surrendering to the new “slang” name for the automatic music machine.
45RPM and 78RPM
When technology changed and the 45RPM jukebox replaced the old 78RPM jukeboxes, the old jukeboxes were, in many cases, destroyed. It was simply too expensive to save those machines for the future. Fortunately there are still some left, which are now mostly possessed by collectors or museums.
While the jukebox disappeared slowly out of the streets, it were the eighties when a small cult group emerged collecting old jukeboxes. This movement grew eventually, with prices for restored jukeboxes skyrocketing. This movement didn’t just happen in de US, but happened all over the world. In fact, there were more jukeboxes exported to other countries (especially countries like The Netherlands) then there were jukeboxes imported back to the States.