The Nickel-in-the-slot phonograph is a predecessor to the jukebox, though some refer to it as the world’s first jukebox.
The nickel-in-the-slot phonograph was invented by general manager of the Pacific Phonograph Company Louis Glass and his business partner William S. Arnold, in 1889.
On November 23, 1889, the nickel-in-the-slot player was installed at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. The machine was an instant success and its popularity began to spread around the world.
This first version of the jukebox was built by the Pacific Phonograph Company. It consisted of an Edison Class M electric phonograph, fitted inside an oak cabinet, with four stethoscope-like tubes attached to it. The tubes were for users to listen through, as the machine had no amplification.
The machine was designed so that each tube operated independently of the others, each activated by the insertion of a coin, meaning that four different people could listen to the same song simultaneously. Towels were supplied so that listeners could clean the tube after each listening.
In its first six months of service, the Nickel-in-the-Slot earned over $1000.
Though not technically so, it is generally accepted that the nickel-in-the-slot phonograph is the world’s first jukebox.
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