Analog at its Best (the 1955 Seeburg V200 Jukebox)  

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Seeburg Corporation (Chicago) has manufactured Jukeboxes, Slot and Arcade machines for over 70 years.  Starting with 78-RPM platters, to 45s, to CD’s & solid-state memory players.  Seeburg was the first in the industry to manufacture players for use with 45 RPM records which dominated the industry in the 1950’s pushing Wurlitzer almost out of the business.  Seeburg was also the first to manufacture continuous play record machines for home and business (the birth of elevator music).    

The Seeburg V200 is a 472-pound jukebox with a 70-Watt mono amplifier pushing into (4) 8ohm speakers.  It has a laminated plywood cabinet accented with Korean-War chrome (a thin chrome process due to shortages after the war, finding one without pitting is rare).  The electronics chassis has external connection points for remote selection terminals as well as a remote volume and reject port making it popular in diners and bars.  This model was also first in the industry to offer 200 song selections.  

The V200 was the last of the line in glass domed (curved glass) jukeboxes.  Models designed after 1956 went with a more traditional flat glass look.  The styling of the V200 is rumored to have been designed to resemble “Robbie the Robot”, a popular science fiction character of the day.  Also notable on the V200 is the Cadillac style grill.   

The V100 and V200 models employ an ingenious anti-skip turntable arrangement.  The record rotates vertically to minimize record skip due to floor vibration.  However, this same feature made the jukebox sensitive to horizontal impact.  In the TV series “Happy Days” Fonzie was often seen changing songs on a Seeburg V100 with snap of his fingers.  Not far from reality, in the 50’s it became common place to reject a record on a Seeburg simply by rapping on the side of the jukebox.  However, this is not good for the stylus or records.

Another state-of-the-art feature designed into the V200 was an AVC (automatic volume control).  This circuit was used to control variations in volumes from record to record.  Standards for dynamics weren’t adopted by the industry until 1957.  Before then, record volume could vary as much as 20dB.

The V200 was also the first to use a DCU (Dual Credit Unit).  This was needed to allow for multiple play of the same record.  The early jukeboxes would only play a selected record once even if multiple people selected it and paid for it.  Up to 10 selections of the same record could now to stored.

One of Seeburg’s most notable features was the use of a solid-state storage media called “Core Memory”.  This is what made 200 song jukeboxes possible.  This type of memory was developed in the late 40’s for use with early computer and control systems.  Core memory uses a matrix of ferrite’s that are magnetized to store information and demagnetized to erase it.  The V200 uses a matrix of 10 rows and 20 columns to store its 200 possible selections.  Like an elephant core memory never forgets.  A selection made today could stay in memory indefinitely even while being unplugged.

Bill Tompkins