How Jukeboxes Work

Author's Note

Even though I'm an ardent, lifelong music fan, I've had only occasional brushes with old-school mechanical jukeboxes. Always-on Internet radio, CDs and MP3s I understand; records, well, not so much.

I have a hard time imagining a world in which I can't always find and play the exact song I want, anytime and anyplace. But it's not hard to see how the glowing lights and big sound of jukeboxes could entrance an entire generation. Their high-tech visual appeal and the ability to play some of your favorite songs – on demand – must have been entirely intoxicating for the young and old alike.

These days, our digital music contraptions let us listen both in solitude and huge social gathering places. Such tiny personal jukeboxes definitely change the way we hear songs, and they'll likely alter the course of music culture, too, just like big old Wurlitzer jukeboxes once did.

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