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The J.P. Seeburg Company

April 24th, 2009 · 24 Comments

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Seeburg HF100R Jukebox

Seeburg HF100R Jukebox

A Swedish immigrant named Justus P. Seeburg founded the J.P. Seeburg Piano Company in 1902. The company began as a manufacturer of coin-operated electric pianos. These pianos were equipped with a music roll that indicated the notes to be played. The rolls could be changed depending on what music was popular at the time. In 1910 instruments were added to the automatic pianos, like violins, a mandolin, flute, snare drum, triangle and other percussion instruments to add to the quality of the sound it produced. This new design was called the “Orchestrion”.

Amplification was introduced in the 1920’s and allowed for a great improvement in the quality of 78-rpm record sound. Unfortunately, this also made player pianos less desirable, and as a result, less profitable. In 1927, the coin-operated non-selective phonograph was introduced and Seeburg stopped making player pianos and organs altogether.

In 1928 the “Audiophone” was introduced, which was a coin-operated 8-selection phonograph that played 78-rpm shellac records. It had 8 individual turntables that were mounted on a “Ferris-wheel” mechanism that was turned by a pneumatic pump. The large wheel with turntables would spin, allowing the customer to choose their songs. The cabinet for this phonograph was rather wide, to allow for the “Ferris-Wheel” within.

Seeburg was prospering in early 1929 and their engineering department developed a smaller and less expensive version of the Audiophone called the Audiophone Junior. Unfortunately, the stock market crashed later that year and the U.S. entered in to the Depression. Seeburg sales were nearly nonexistent so few Audiophone Juniors were sold, making it a rare model today.

During the Depression, the J.P. Seeburg Company had to diversify into other areas of manufacturing. They created coin meters for washing machines and refrigerators. They manufactured arcade games like the 1936 Seeburg Ray-O-Lite that utilized a revolutionary new light ray technology, developed by Seeburg. This game was encased in a beautiful wooden cabinet, as were the early Seeburg jukeboxes.

When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Seeburg saw an increase in jukebox sales. They went back into production and introduced the “Selectophone” 10-selection phonograph. This new design had 10 separate turntables placed vertically on a spindle, each spaced so the tone arm could go up and down and between each turntable to play all of the records. This phonograph played 2 selections for a dime or one for a nickel. It was designed with an art deco-styled walnut cabinet that only needed 3 square feet of floor space.

In 1937 Seeburg introduced the “Symphonola” and the Melody King line of jukeboxes. This group consisted of the first machines with illuminated selection panels. In 1940 Seeburg added automatic record changers and phonographs to their line and became the largest supplier for companies like Stromberg-Carlson and RCA-Victor. Seeburg also manufactured their first bottle vending machine in 1940.

During WWII, Seeburg was dedicated solely to the development and production of electronics used by the US military. This earned Seeburg three Army-Navy “E” Awards (excellence awards). After the war, in 1948, Seeburg introduced “The Industrial and Commercial Music System”. It produced background music in offices, stores and factories with a 110-record automatic phonograph. The technology that made this possible was known as the Select-O-Matic mechanism. This was an impressive device that stored the records in a vertical position and was able to play both sides of both 78- and 45-rpm records. This technology was adapted and used in coin-operated phonographs as well, the first being the famous M100A. This very quickly made Seeburg the most successful manufacturer of jukeboxes. With improvements to record-making technology, the 45-rpm microgroove disc was introduced and Seeburg made the M100B that played 45-rpm records exclusively.

Seeburg M100C Jukebox

Seeburg M100C Jukebox

The years that followed brought many improvements to music systems that were copied by other manufacturers. In 1953 Seeburg was the first to introduce high-fidelity reproduction with a wide-range, low-distortion, multi-speaker instrument called the HF100G. In 1955 they came out with the first 200-selection phonograph.

Seeburg HF100G Jukebox

Seeburg HF100G Jukebox

In 1956 the Seeburg family sold their company to Fort Pitt Industries and the Seeburg Company became a subsidiary of Fort Pitt. In 1958 a Seeburg phonograph was introduced with a 160-record selection. This proved to be the ideal capacity for a phonograph. It was also in ’58 that Seeburg returned to the manufacture of vending machines. They produced an electric cigarette vendor and in 1959 followed that with hot and cold drink vendors.

In 1961 Seeburg addressed the introduction of the 33½-rpm record by introducing two phonographs that could play both 45 and 33½-rpm records. They were the AY-100 and AY-160. The Select-O-Matic DS100 and DS160 followed these in 1962. Seeburg was active in promoting the 33 1/2 –rpm record as the next big-profit item for manufacturers.

Throughout the 1960’s, Seeburg, or one of its affiliates acquired various companies including those that made electronic organs, musical instruments and vending machines. They expanded their operations abroad. They also continued to make electronics at their industrial division for the US government. In 1968 Seeburg was sold to Commonwealth United and then in 1972 to Seeburg Industries. Again the company was sold in 1984 to a group of industry inventors that formed the Seeburg Corporation. In 1986 they introduced the first CD jukebox, called the Seeburg SCD1. The production of CD boxes led to the end of the Seeburg jukebox’s popularity, and by the late 1990’s the company was finally closed.

Tags: J. P. Seeburg Company · Manufacturer Histories

24 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Alex Vajda // Jul 5, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Hi, I recently acquired an electronic devise built by the J. P. Seeburg Co., on e-bay for a few bucks. No one seems to know what it is. After looking at it, I am inclined to think that it is a power supply rather than an audio amp. On its chassis is ingraved: “Vacuum Tube Rectifier 7593-C Manufactured by J. P. Seeburg, a Division of FT Pitt Industries”. Can you possibly please tell me what it is, and what was its application? If you need, I do have pictures of it and could submit them to you. Thank you.
    Alex Vajda
    4570 W. Barrington Dr.
    West Jordan, UT., 84088
    801-280-4063

  • 2 vintagevending // Jul 6, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Alex,

    Our advice is to contact Steve Hanson at New England Jukebox. He can be reached at nejukebox@aol.com.
    You could also try Victory Glass, they have a large supply of reproduced parts and used parts for many brands and models of jukeboxes. 2nd-sight.com/victoryglass/default.htm

  • 3 jhaesler // Apr 12, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I have a select o matic library unit model 200LU-1with an amp type HFA1-L6. Is this a collectors item or should I just throw it away?

  • 4 vintagevending // Apr 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    JHaesler,

    I have found a great site for you.
    http://www.seeburgeds.com/index.html
    I’m sure it will help you decide if it’s a collectible.

  • 5 CLAUDETTE DE LEEUW // Jun 14, 2010 at 7:53 am

    Hi, I would like to know where i can get some informations about a jukebox Model PFEAI U
    serial no: 210623
    Seeburg multi channel stereo discotheque
    Thanks

  • 6 vintagevending // Jun 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Claudette,
    You could try contacting Steve Hanson at New England Juke Box. He might be able to help you with your questions. He can be reached at nejukebox@aol.com.

  • 7 rolanda g // Jul 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I have a seeburg coca cola machine and cannot find anything on the cola machines and their worth, only jukeboxes. Any suggestions?

  • 8 vintagevending // Jul 16, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Rolanda,

    Seeburg took over the Cavalier Company, so most likely your machine was made by Cavalier. There should be a model number and serial number on the machine so that you can estimates a value of worth. We are not appraisers, so we can’t help you out with that.
    Check out our other blog on the Cavalier Company.
    http://www.vintagevending.com/cavalier-corporation-soda-machine-company

  • 9 Judy Freeman // Dec 7, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    I am trying to find a repairman for an original Seeburg Jukebox at my home in St.Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Phone 416 786 2721. It is in mint condition and worked well up to about 5 years ago. I have not had anyone look at it as I do not want to have just anyone touch it. Can you help . Thank you

  • 10 susan scher // Mar 9, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    we have a early 70’s late60’s seeburg jukebox that needs repair.we would like to find a technichan in monmouth or ocean county.thank you

  • 11 DEBBIE ROMAINE // May 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I need a technician (person who can help me make my jukebox better) to tweek our Seeburg Select 100. It works, but 90%. Who can I get to help us in the PA, Bucks County area??? Any help??? PLEASE!! It was my grandfather’s and we LOVE it, and use it all the time!!! We do not want to sell, just restore and have hopefully for generations to come…any help would be SO appreciated. Thank you!!!

  • 12 Roy Jones // Jun 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    Can anyone tell me anything about a device labeled “W.U. Tel Co Portable Test Set 5605-A mfd by J.P. Seeburg Corp.?” Thank you!

  • 13 John mcgranthat // Jul 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I have 3 seeburg jukeboxes any one in nj fix them I have a ds 160 lpc1 and a 100-77d topaz u can call me at 856-207-1767 ask for john the lpc1 the mec needs to be redone the100-77d needs the ppc1 redone and price unit Redon

  • 14 kelly harter // Jul 25, 2011 at 7:29 am

    I have a chance to by a vintage seeburg selectomatic from the ’50’s what are the worth?
    thanks kelly

  • 15 Larry Fenwick // Aug 29, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I have a 1933 J P Seeburg Jukebox, All orginal, in very good condition and it works, plays great with a little help. It needs a little. Its for sale, taking offers

  • 16 Donna Moore // Sep 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I have a HF100R-D Seeburg jukebox and it works but there is no sound. what would this be worth? thanks so much!

  • 17 Jason Pack // Dec 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I have a 60 Seeburg Selectomatic 100 jukebox that plays 45s. it was working fine, but now the selector function isn’t working on it (it will select the record it is stuck on and play it, but it won’t move one way or the other). I am in Southern California – any thoughts for good repair folks?

  • 18 Deb M // Oct 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Is the stock certificate for Seeburg worth anything? What is the stock name?

  • 19 Barbara // Dec 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Do you have any idea where I could find a needle (stylus) for a LPCl model Seeburg Jukebox

  • 20 Tom H // Jan 31, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    To Barbara: You can probably get the needle at victoryglass.com

  • 21 vintagevending // Mar 25, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Jack,
    The J.P. Seeburg company went out of business for good in the late 1990s. You may want to contact Steve Hanson at New England Jukebox. He can be reached at nejukebox@aol.com. Perhaps he can help you, or point you in the right direction to find a key for your unit.

  • 22 Mike M // Jul 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Recently acquired a ‘34 Seeburg Selectophone and am in need of a manual and any other technical information available to assist in the restoration.

  • 23 Richard Leatham // Sep 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

    We have a list of Repair/Parts people at the top of the main page of our web site. Scroll down by state to find someone near you.

  • 24 Brenda Salvino // Mar 31, 2015 at 11:16 am

    I have a selectomatic jukebox., it is missing two glass tubes in front. We need to have the cord re-wired to see if it works. Chicago Illinois area. thanks

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All Images are the Property of and Copyrighted to Vintage Vending Inc.