On this day in music history: November 23, 188…

On this day in music history: November 23, 1889 – The world’s first jukebox is installed at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco, CA located at 303 Sutter Street at Grant Avenue. The device is invented by Louis T. Glass, a former Western Union telegraph operator, who at the time is the general manager of the Pacific Phonograph Co. in San Francisco. Along with partner William S. Arnold, the pair attaches four stethoscope like tubes to a coin operated Edison electric wax cylinder phonograph fitted inside an oak cabinet. The cost to play one song is five cents (approximately $1.08 in today’s currency). The jukebox is an immediate sensation and generates over $1,000 in its first month of operation. By May of 1890, Glass patents his invention, and has fifteen of the machines installed in bars in San Francisco, and on ferries traveling back and from the city to Oakland. Its success spells the end for the venerable player piano, which had been the main way to hear popular songs, other than being played by live musicians. The building that housed the Palais Royale Saloon was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire, and was replaced by the Hammersmith Building, built in 1907, which still resides today on the site where the saloon once stood, and is a designated San Francisco city landmark. Happy 128th Birthday to the jukebox, “the iPod of the 19th century”!!