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 'A Visit to Wurlitzer' 1948 -- Wurlitzer Manufacturing Phonograph Jukeboxes
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 Return to top of page · Post #: 1 · Written at 9:46:40 PM on 17 July 2017.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 5341

A fascinating look at how Wurlitzer manufactured jukeboxes in 1948 (video title says 1950) at its huge factory located at North Tonawanda, NY.

Includes quite a bit of detail about the woodworking and metalworking processes involved:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBgEPwq3LSQ

The model showcased is the 1100 of 1948. It's quite an electromechanical monster, as this very good tour of the machine itself shows:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-FxOnIbk3Q


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 2 · Written at 1:51:47 PM on 6 August 2017.
NewVista's avatar
 Location: MilwWI, US
 Member since 10 May 2013
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This is fascinating seeing inside the (once) massive Wurlitzer operation.
Factory jobs paid well because it was tough work: some of those jobs quite hazardous as you can see - and hear!

I knew they were in "Tonawanda" but was unsure where it was: Turns out it is between Buffalo & Niagara, on the water.
You can see that iconic plant today (still there)(but not all the jobs)(long gone) from Niagara Falls Blvd on google.

I was up in Niagara in 1980s; the Canadian side was prospering with tourism but US town of Niagara was depressed Rust Belt, as no doubt was Tonawanda, Buffalo, Rochester (home to once huge Kodak.)


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 3 · Written at 5:27:41 PM on 7 August 2017.
NewVista's avatar
 Location: MilwWI, US
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Rudolph Wurlitzer, a German from Cincinnati. Must have been a large German community there, Doris Day (orig. Doris Kappelhoff) also from there. Good thing Rudy didn't change his name like Doris did as "Wurlitzer" is a very cool name for jukeboxes and interchangeable for the concept of the "Theatre Organ"!

Another cool name for Jukeboxes was "Rock-ola" - also actually the founder's name, David Rockola, born way before 'Rock-n-Roll'!?

In the 1980's, I wanted a Wurlitzer 2300 (1959?)(last model with visible record changing mech?) You could get them at the bi-annual Chicago Juke & Coin-op Show, but prices were high. Outside the show at back of large parking lots were Europeans with shipping containers on trucks filling them with all sorts of antiques. The Euro's preferred the 1950s jukeboxes whereas the Americans preferred the 1940's models (like on the film.) Collectable prices began falling after the 80's boom and then the early 90's recession. Later on, after the Dot-Com-bubble recession (2001) prices had continued falling, word was that the Europeans, who had overdone it, were trying to resell antiques back into the US market!


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 4 · Written at 6:08:40 PM on 7 August 2017.
GTC's avatar
 GTC
 Location: Sydney, NSW
 Member since 28 January 2011
 Member #: 823
 Postcount: 5341

Yes, I remember first being told that Rock-Ola came from the surname Rockola and I found it hard to believe.

Here's an obit on the man. Note the reference to two Aussies flogging an early form of poker machine to him:

QUOTE: David C. Rockola, industrialist, born Virden Manitoba 1897, died Chicago 26 January 1993.

Although David Rockola wasn't the first manufacturer of the juke-box, his name captures perfectly the thumping beat of music on a coin machine.

Rockola started the Rock-Ola Mfg Company in 1926 to build weighing-machines. From the age of 14, when he started work, he was gripped by a desire to travel and to find a worthwhile profession. He made money in oil shares, was a taxi-driver, and later learnt engineering on the oilfields of Mexico and Argentina.

His first glimpse of a coin-machine was in Chicago in 1919 while running a cigar store. Two Australians offered him a 'trade stimulator', an early type of fruit-machine offering prizes of trade checks to be spent in the store. Within weeks this was out-earning the cigar business.

During prohibition, Rockola claimed he operated machines 'for the boys', but later he was reluctant to elaborate on this colourful period of his life. At one time he was in charge of 5,000 weighing-machines, which from 1926 he started to manufacture. He later added pin-ball machines (1933) and in 1935 produced his first juke-box.

Others had come before him, Seeburg in 1926, and Capehart (later with Wurlitzer) from 1928, but Rockola competed by using simple reliable engineering, together with a keen sense of contemporary design. Competition beween the big-four juke-box giants was intense during the Thirties but, in spite of a million-dollar patent wrangle, Rockola remained on friendly terms with the chairman of Wurlitzer.

Rockola was always proud of his work. A model '1428' juke- box is displayed in the Library of Congress as an example of Americana. And it gave him much pleasure to know his 'Tempo II' machine was featured on the television show Juke-Box Jury.

By the late Sixties, greater access to music via radio and tapes, together with the demise of the 45rpm disc, led to the decline of the juke-box. For the past 30 years the Rock-Ola company has successfully concentrated on manufacturing vending machines.


I wanted a Wurlitzer 2300 (1959?)(last model with visible record changing mech?)

I always wanted a jukebox, but I didn't want a vinyl machine (too few selections). So I waited until the CD machines became available on the used market and bought Rowe-AMI's first CD model the LaserStar 100. It uses the same carousel mechanism that Rowe used for 45's, but adapted for CDs, of which it holds 100.


 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 5 · Written at 6:33:51 PM on 7 August 2017.
Brad's avatar
 Administrator
 Location: Greenwich, NSW
 Member since 15 November 2005
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I too have always dreamed of owning a good jukebox. Owning one that works by thumping the glass like Fonzy used to do would be all the better.


‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾
A valve a day keeps the transistor away...

 
 Return to top of page · Post #: 6 · Written at 1:42:31 PM on 8 August 2017.
NewVista's avatar
 Location: MilwWI, US
 Member since 10 May 2013
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In Michael Portillo's latest train journey [BBC] he travels from Manhattan to Niagara Falls by train. I didn't know it was still possible, had heard there are now delays etc. but he does it! (train trip same route as in the Great Depression song 'Shuffle Off To Buffalo'!)

His trip finally runs through Tonawanda, here's a description:

"Buffalo to Niagara Falls" aired: 9 February 2016

" The final leg of Portillo's New York railroad journey brings him
towards the end point at one of the country's natural landmarks.
Destinations visited include Buffalo and the Niagara Falls..."


 
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