Coin-operated music boxes and piano players were the first forms of automated coin-operated musical devices- preludes to the modern day jukebox. These instruments used paper rolls, metal disks, or metal cylinders to play a musical selection on the instrument, or instruments, enclosed within the device. In the 1890s these devices were joined by machines which used actual recordings instead of physical instruments. In 1890, Louis Glass and William S. Arnold invented the nickel-in-the-slot phonograph, the first of which was an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph retrofitted with a device patented under the name of Coin Actuated Attachment for Phonograph. The music was heard through one of four listening tubes. Early designs, upon receiving a coin, unlocked the mechanism, allowing the listener to turn a crank which simultaneously wound the spring motor and placed the reproducer’s stylus in the starting groove. Exhibitors would often equip many of these machines with listening tubes (acoustic headphones) and array them in “phonograph parlors” allowing the patron to select between multiple records, each played on its own machine. Some machines even contained carousels and other mechanisms for playing multiple records. If you enjoy articles like these, you would definitely enjoy lessons with one of our dedicated piano teachers at Kathryn Brickell Music.