Obituary: David Rockola
Tuesday 02 February 1993
ALTHOUGH David Rockola wasn't the first manufacturer of the juke-box, his name captures perfectly the thumping beat of music on a coin machine.
Rockola started the Rock-Ola Mfg Company in 1926 to build weighing-machines. From the age of 14, when he started work, he was gripped by a desire to travel and to find a worthwhile profession. He made money in oil shares, was a taxi-driver, and later learnt engineering on the oilfields of Mexico and Argentina.
His first glimpse of a coin-machine was in Chicago in 1919 while running a cigar store. Two Australians offered him a 'trade stimulator', an early type of fruit-machine offering prizes of trade checks to be spent in the store. Within weeks this was out-earning the cigar business.
During prohibition, Rockola claimed he operated machines 'for the boys', but later he was reluctant to elaborate on this colourful period of his life. At one time he was in charge of 5,000 weighing-machines, which from 1926 he started to manufacture. He later added pin-ball machines (1933) and in 1935 produced his first juke-box.
Others had come before him, Seeburg in 1926, and Capehart (later with Wurlitzer) from 1928, but Rockola competed by using simple reliable engineering, together with a keen sense of contemporary design. Competition beween the big-four juke-box giants was intense during the Thirties but, in spite of a million-dollar patent wrangle, Rockola remained on friendly terms with the chairman of Wurlitzer.
Rockola was always proud of his work. A model '1428' juke- box is displayed in the Library of Congress as an example of Americana. And it gave him much pleasure to know his 'Tempo II' machine was featured on the television show Juke-Box Jury.
By the late Sixties, greater access to music via radio and tapes, together with the demise of the 45rpm disc, led to the decline of the juke-box. For the past 30 years the Rock-Ola company has successfully concentrated on manufacturing vending machines.
When interviewed five years ago, David Rockola admitted he was fortunate to have found satisfaction in life and, he added, he must have done something good for the public because God had allowed him to live so long.
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Latest in News
Jennifer Lawrence: 'It should be illegal to call someone fat on TV'
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Ian Watkins: Police probed over earlier allegations as paedophile Lostprophets singer sentenced to 35 years for child sex offences
DNA from a 50,000 year old toe shows Neanderthals were highly inbred
Devyani Khobragade: India-US row escalates over arrest of diplomat in New York
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Geography ...
Competitive: Nielsen: We are seeking an enthusiastic intern with a passionate ...
£23 - £30 per hour: Morgan Hunt: A fantastic opportunity has arisen within a c...