Eye On Design: Edison Multiphone, Coin Operated Phonograph

Edison Multiphone
All Photos By Gail

The first pre-selective jukebox was the Multiphone, invented by John C. Dunton in 1905. Standing 7 feet high, it comprised a lyre-shaped, glass-fronted wooden cabinet containing an Edison spring-motor phonograph and a hand-cranked rotary-selector mechanism that gave the listener a choice of twenty-four cylinder recordings.

Edison Multiphone Detail
Cylinder Detail

Coin operated amusement devices became popular in saloons by the turn of the century. For a nickel (though this machine has been altered for dime plays) the Edison Multiphone coin operated phonograph (1915) offered a choice of twenty-four cylinder recordings (visible through the glass panel). The cylinders were numbered and an accompanying chart listed the titles. By having patrons pay for their entertainment, saloon keepers saved money on hired musicians and other expenses.

Edison Multiphone

Photographed in the Autry Museum of the American West, Located in Los Angeles, California.

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