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History: Me & My Seeburg
by Don A. Muller
I started this business back in the summer of 1971 it got mixed
reactions from both operators and distributors in my state of Arizona.
liked the idea of me taking jukes out of circulation and not having to
take them in on trade to store, repair and sell again with little
wiggle room to make a profit. It also put my new money in the
operators came around to what I did once they met me. They too liked
the idea of the old jukes being taken out of the equation forever
since I promised I'd not sell them to young upstart operators and
that I'd remove the coin systems.
contact an operator, survey his equipment and buildings and then make
an offer he couldn't refuse promising to have the buildings swept
out and MT in the next day or two.
he'd (sometimes she'd) tell me I have to take all the speakers and
amplifiers hanging on the walls as well as all the 45s in collapsing
cigarette boxes stacked up all over the place. Thousands of them.
Sometimes they forced me to take wall/counter boxes too.
Hundreds of them.
were a few guys though that weren't too happy with me taking their
jukes and making money selling them to homes.
some cases they'd sabotage them before selling 'em to me. Like the
guy who sold me a handful of 1955/56 Seeburg V200/Vl200s. He had
removed the arm connecting a set of contacts to a solenoid assembly up
on the right side of the mechanism chassis that tells the mech when
it's time to go rest. If you forgot, it was termed the "scan
only worked on the simple AMIs up to that time it took me a little
while to figure out what was wrong. When I did, I just fabricated an
arm and went on my merry way.
months later I ran into him at the parts counter of Garrison Sales the
biggest distributor in Arizona. With a coy smile he asked how I did
with the Seeburgs.
nonchalantly smiled back looking at him for just a second before
turning away and saying "I did good although there was a small part
missing but that was simple to make."
he asked what I sold the jukes for and I told him $125. I never looked
over at his response. I had paid him $7 each 2 months before.
guy sent me out to pick up a free V200 out West of Phoenix in the
wrong part of town. Only the beer trucks and mailman drove in through
the town. The school bus stopped at the entrance to the town to let
the kids off. Really odd.
went in there and got out alive, possibly because I let the kids hang
on to and ride in the back of my truck dropping them off at their
shacks/homes built atop an old dumping ground.
I did this with 101 operators around Arizona before moving my entire
operation to Los Angeles.
must have taken me 20 years to think of myself as someone other than
just some young upstart. But in a way tha'’s probably what allowed
me to get closer and learn more from the operators.
showed them respect and was always asking them to tell me about the
good old days. I never wanted to come across as knowing more than they
was shocked by calls I'd get from John Guthrie Sr. when I moved to
LA. I believe he was one of the biggest independent jukebox operators
in the country back then.
he'd call me and ask my thoughts on some new amusement devise or a jukebox he saw in Replay.
the first few years in Phoenix I got to realize Seeburgs were
engineered better than the others. So if I sound like I lean towards
them, your right.
my take on this:
you think about how Seeburg disrupted the operator's complacency in
1948 with the introduction of the M100A that played more than twice as
many records as their competitors and then again with the M100B that
played 45s and still another when Seeburg joined SONY and built the
first CD jukebox the SCD.
the small ripple Seeburg made with its first STEREO machine, these
were major changes Seeburg threw at the industry that made a BIG
difference and forced operators to take on the challenge or give up.
course each of these times the operators had to buy the same damn
songs in a new format. Just how many Bing Crosby "White Christmas"
and Patsy Cline “I fall pieces” discs does a guy need?
operators threw in the towel when 45s came along as did more of them
when CDs happened. And now CDs are gone and what’s next after what
we have currently …. Holograms?
if you remember the SCD came with a bill acceptor as standard and a
coin system was optional. Pushy little company this Seeburg was.
you have to admit they introduced a slew of advancements that kept the
rest of the manufacturers playing 'catch up' most of the time.
something that has always puzzled me is: how, after the war, the head
of Seeburg marketing could sleep at night?
this: After the war, Seeburg made 3 odd jukes that only played 20
tunes and hid the playing mechanism. Heavy records and their trays
would make the pot metal tracks sag and jam up. We called them "Jimmys",
but the public called them "trashcans" due to their looks of a
'40s –'50s kitchen, foot pedal operated lid trashcan.
only innovative thing about these machines was that the buttons you
pushed to make a selection were actually the title strips. Relatively
cool I thought.
while Seeburg was pushing these "trashcans" everybody at the
factory, if not the distributors, had to know they would be short
in the development stages was the industry changing M100A of '48
that played 100 selections of 78s. Yet while they were still selling
trashcans and beginning production of the "A”", they were
developing the next reincarnation of jukeboxes, the 45 rpm M100B.
found standard 2 tune title strips made commercially by Wood, Star or
Sterling that were dated 1947 before the "A" came out.
how could these guys sleep at night? I suppose the same way any good
salesman whether he’s selling the latest TV or car; they all know
what’s coming down the pike.
have sent me copies of publications from Seeburg that I never knew
existed like the Seeburg "Illuminator" and the "Voice"
there's another one I have volumes of I'll try to remember for
to why Seeburg dominated the market during the '50s.
WWll Rock-ola made rifles and Wurlitzer made bomb proximity fuses. I
couldn't find what AMI did and even contacted Rowe a while back and
it seems no one there knew either. I didn't look to see what NSM was
up to 'cause they weren't even around.
having bought the entire parts department of the Seeburg building at
1600 North Dayton in Chicago in 1980, at one point I owned the
building’s entire contents.
cleared out the printing department and found confidential / secret
files on what Seeburg did during the war, that wouldn't be divulged
until years later.
were "The Bomb"! They had converted 100% of their resources to the
war effort. Subsequently they were contracted to build extremely
Fire Interrupter used on the B-24 Bomber.
Wire Recording Device for the Air Force. Dead Reckoning Tracers.
Ground Position Indication Equipment.
Radar Control Boxes.
& Receiver Assmeblies.
Radio Audio Ampliofiers.
& Low Frequency Antenna loading Coils.
and even Fog equipment and the list goes on, but you get the picture.
was the jukebox industry's' innovator after the war.
Don A. Muller
/ Los Angeles
the whole JU company history here.