One of the early forerunners to the modern Jukebox as we know was the Nickel-in-the-Slot machine. In 1889, Louis Glass and William S. Arnold, placed a coin-operated Edison cylinder phonograph in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. It was an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph in an oak cabinet that was refitted with a coin mechanism patented by Glass and Arnold. This was the first Nickel-in-the-Slot. The machine had no amplification, thus the listener has to stand close to it to hear, and it can only play one cylinder, changed every day or so. In its first six months of service, the Nickel-in-the-Slot earned over $1000. The Palais Royal Saloon was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire, thus its current location is still undetermined.
During the 1890s, recordings had become popular primarily through coin-in-the-slot phonographs in public places. In the decade 1910-20, the phonograph became a truly mass medium for popular music, and recordings of large-scale orchestral works and other classical instrumental music proliferated. In the mid-1920s, radio, which provided free music, developed, and this new factor, plus the worldwide economic depression of the 1930s, threw the phonograph industry into serious decline. During the 1930s, as the American companies relied mainly on dance records in jukeboxes to satisfy a dwindled market, Europe supplied a slow but steady trickle of classical recordings.
Manufacturers did not call them “jukeboxes”, they called them Automatic Coin-Operated Phonographs (or Automatic Phonographs, or Coin-Operated Phonographs). The term “jukebox” appeared in the 1930’s and originated in the southern United States. ‘juke’ was a slang for a brothel.
The first modern jukebox was created by Wurlitzer in 1934. It was a partially automated music-playing device, a coin-operated machine, which would play a patron’s selection from self-contained media. The classic jukebox has buttons with letters and numbers on them that, when entered in combination, are used to play a specific selection.