On this day in 1889 the first jukebox was installed at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. Although it is somewhat of an anachronism today, the jukebox was one of the key influences on music and culture throughout much of the 20th century.
The idea of a coin-operated phonograph was hatched by Louis Glass, president of Pacific Phonograph Company. Glass adapted Thomas Edison’s phonograph, which played songs on wax cylinders, by attaching four stethoscope-like tubes for listening. Each tube was individually activated by the listener inserting a nickel. In fact the machine was first called the “nickel-in-the-slot player.” The term jukebox did not enter the vernacular until the 1940s.
The origin of the term “juke” begins in the Gullah, a creole language spoken by the African-American population of the Sea Islands and coastal region of the southern United States. In Gullah “juke” means “disorderly, rowdy, or wicked.” Before the term was used for a coin-operated music box, it applied to a “juke joint,” a common term for a saloon or tavern. Because these types of establishments featured “nickel-in-the-slot players,” the more concise term “jukebox” took hold.
Today’s Challenge: Put in Your Two Bits
What would be the top five songs you would include on your personal jukebox? Whether you have a jukebox or not, the playlist has become a prominent part of a modern culture where music is more accessible than it ever has. Brainstorm your favorite songs, the kind of songs that would make up the soundtrack of your life. Select your top five songs and write a description for each that explains why the song is important to you and what makes it a vital part of your playlist.
Quotation of the Day: I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. -Billy Joel