A jukebox is a partially automated music-playing device, usually a coin-operated machine, that can play specially selected songs from self-contained media. The traditional jukebox is rather large with a rounded top and has colored lighting going up the front of the machine on its vertical sides. The classic jukebox has buttons with letters and numbers on them that, when combined, are used to indicate a specific song from a particular record.
Coin-operated music boxes and player pianos carved out a place for automatic pay-per-tune music in fairgounds, amusement parks and other public places (such as train stations in Switzerland) a few decades before the introduction of reliable coin-operated phonographs. Some of these automatic musical instruments were extremely well built and have survived to this day in the hands of collectioners and museums. In the long run they could not compete with the jukebox since they played the same instrument (or instruments) over and over again and could not reproduce the human voice.
The immediate ancestor of the jukebox, called the "Coin-slot phonograph", was the first medium of sound recording encountered by the general public, before mass produced home audio equipment became common. Such machines began to be mass produced in 1889, using phonograph cylinders for records. The earliest machines played but a single record (of about 2 minutes of music or entertainment), but soon devices were developed that allowed customers to choose between multiple records. In the 1910s the cylinder was superseded by the gramophone record. The term "juke box" came into use in the United States in the 1930s, derived from African-American slang "jook" meaning "dance". The shellac 78rpm record dominated jukeboxes until the Seeburg Corporation introduced an all 45 rpm vinyl record jukebox in 1950.
Starting in the 1980s, compact discs became the norm for modern jukeboxes. Towards the end of the 20th century several companies started introducing completely digital jukeboxes which did not use CDs, downloading the tunes from a secure signal sent over the Internet or through a separate, proprietary transmission protocol over phone lines. In addition to automatically downloading a potentially larger selection than what is available on CDs in a single machine the digital jukeboxes also send back information on what is being played, and where, opening up new commercial avenues.
Jukeboxes and their ancestors were a very profitable industry from the 1890s on. They were most popular from the 1940s through the mid-1960s, particularly during the 1950s. Today they are often associated with early rock and roll music, but were very popular in the swing music era as well. As a result, stores and restaurants with a retro theme, such as the Johnny Rockets chain, include Jukeboxes.
Jukebox is also the name of an album released by jazz musician Jamaaladeen Tacuma. See Jukebox (album).
Jukebox is also the name of a Romanian blues band.
There are also computer peripherals called "jukebox" which serve as mass storage devices. They typically use Magneto-optical disc or Magnetic tape media, contain more than one drive and are attached over a computer network. One example is the HP SureStore family. Similarly, hard disk based portable music players are also called as "jukebox".