Rudolph Wurlitzer was born in 1829 in Schilbach, Saxony (Germany). In 1853 he emigrated to America at the age of 24. The family business had already built up a good name in Saxony since the 17th century as producers and sellers of musical instruments. In 1856, Rudolph Wurlitzer founded THE WURLITZER COMPANY in Cincinnati, Ohio. He started importing his family's musical instruments into Germany to sell them on the American market. In 1880 he started producing pianos in America himself. In 1896 the 'Tonophone', the first coin-operated piano, was introduced to the market. The next adventure for Wurlitzer came with the rise of the movie and theater organs. These "Mighty Wurlitzers" instruments were a sensation when they were introduced to the market. came in the time of the "silent film" (there is still one in the Tuschinski theater in Amsterdam, among others) In the early 1930s, Farny Wurlitzer, the youngest son of the company's founder, bought a patented music box mechanism . He hired highly skilled professionals such as inventor, Homer Capehart, and designer, Paul Fuller. At the new location in North Tonawanda, NY, they designed the first Wurlitzer jukebox "Debutante". This was the beginning of 'the golden years' for Wurlitzer. Wurlitzer soon controlled 60% of the growing jukebox market.
Rudolph Wurlitzer (1831 - †1914)
1933 was an important year in WURLITZER history, as the Wurlitzer Jukebox became a familiar sight to customers in restaurants and bars. After inserting a coin, one could select 1 song among 10 78 rpm records. The jukebox was dubbed the 'Small Man's Concert Hall'.
During the war, Wurlitzer was forced to virtually halt production of jukeboxes because, by state order, the factories were used to produce important war products, such as radar components. However designer Paul Fuller had continuously worked on new jukebox models during this period. The result was the Wurlitzer "'1015". The most famous jukebox of all time. It became a big hit in 1946. Between 1946 and 1947, no less than 56,000 units of this machine were built and sold in just 18 months. More than any other jukebox model. In the early 1950s, the 45 rpm single made its appearance, and the option of 100 selections soon became the standard. Wurlitzer's leading position in the market was taken over by Seeburg. It was the time of the jukeboxes with glittering chrome and magical lighting.
In 1956, Wurlitzer produced its first jukebox with a selection of 200 titles, just in time for the company's 100th anniversary. The model had to compete with the famous V200 from Seeburg.
Wurlitzer remained an important player in the market, but the declining sales and popularity of jukeboxes meant that the doors of the factory were closed for good in the late 1970s.
However, from the early sixties, special models were also made for the European market by the German branch Wurlitzer GmbH. This factory has continued to produce and markets, among other things, the CD jukebox "One More Time". At the latest a copy of the famous 1015 from 1946! In 2013, however, the production of these machines will also come to an end.