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History of the radio manufacturer Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation (Rockola); Chicago, IL

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Name: Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation (Rockola); Chicago, IL    (USA)    
Abbreviation: rockola  
Products: Model types Others  
Summary: Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation Chicago, IL; Manufacturer of world wide popular Music Boxes for 78's and 45's.

 
Founded: 1926
Production: 1926 -
History:

David Colin Rockola was born January 23, 1897, in Manitoba, Canada. His father was an inventor. As a young boy (14) David Rockola began to work in a hotel as a bellboy. Later, he opened his own cigar store in Calgary and had a slot machine on the counter which made quite some money. At the age 23 he went to Chicago to work in a shop that repaired for Mills, Jennings and Watling, the top three slot machine manufacturers. In 1927 David Rockola founded "Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corporation" in Chicago.

From 1932 Rockola did produce also pinball games, starting with "Juggle ball", and many other devices but that made him nearly bankrupt - despite the fact that the machines were regarded as the most innovative and later collectble pingames. As the demand for coin-operated phonographs increased Rock-Ola moved into the jukebox arena. David Rockola purchased a mechanism from a Mr. Smythe. Rockola reengineered this 12-select mechanism and started 1935 making jukeboxes. Farny Wurlitzer viewed this a huge threat to his business based on Rockola's success in other machines. Wurlitzer tried to convince David Rockola that there was no room in the industry for another manufacturer. Wurlitzer then filed a $1 million lawsuit claiming patent infringement on the Smythe mechanism. Rockola eventually won the suit but not until he had spent half a million dollars in legal fees. This hurt Rockola but didn't kill him. He continued manufacturing and in 1939 introduced a series of very successful jukeboxes called "Luxury Light-Up".

During World War II, Rock-Ola led the industry in telephone-line music transmission systems. This was very popular because it allowed for many selections to be offered at a time when jukebox manufacturing was nearly halted because of the war effort. He produced also rifles (M1) and ammunition. After World War II, the jukebox industry was booming. Boys were coming home and it was party time. Wurlitzer came out with the model 1015, probably the most popular jukebox of all time, and Rock-Ola introduced the "Magic Glow" series. These were models 1422, 1426, and 1428.

Allthough Wurlitzer and AMI ruled the 30's and 40's, and Seeburg did in the 50's, it would be Rock-ola who became the market leader in the 60's:

In the 1950s and '60s Rock-Ola was a formidable competitor on the jukebox field. The company came up with many new ideas, including a full-featured jukebox that was so small it could be hung on the wall! As the demand for jukeboxes went down in the '70s, Rock-Ola wound down the business to almost nothing. In 1992 Rock-Ola sold the business to Glenn Streeter, owner of Antique Apparatus Co. In Torrance, Calif. Streeter has taken the Rock-Ola name and given it new life, making it now one of the top jukebox manufacturers in the country, featuring a full line of commercial and home jukeboxes. David Rockola died in 1993.

 

This manufacturer was suggested by Mario Spitzer.


Some models:
Country Year Name 1st Tube Notes
USA  70 Jukebox Rock Ola 445   Verstärker Nr. 46943, Lautsprecher: top: oval tweeter 16 Ohm #46808; door: 12" 8 Ohm #4... 
USA  76 Rock Ola 470   Verstärker Nr.48350-1A, Lautsprecher: 2x 12" 8 Ohm; 2x 6" 12 Ohm, Tonabnehmer: Shur... 
USA  79/80 Rock Ola 477 Hit Tracker   Verstärker Nr. 52280-A, Netzteil Nr. D: 52405-A , Lautsprecher: 12": # 52309; 6": #5180... 
USA  69 Jukebox 440   Tonabnehmer: Shure M44R with stylus Shure N44C, Lampen: TL 25W/T12/33", Lautsprecher:... 
USA  67 Jukebox Concerto 434 ECC81  2 Amerikanische Röhren 6CY7 Doppel Triode, Verstärker Nr.41056-1A (valves), Netzteil Nr... 
USA  65 Jukebox Starlet 429 ECC81  2 Amerikanische Röhren 6CY7 Doppel Triode, Netzteil Nr.42670-A, Lautsprecher: midra... 
USA  74 Jukebox 453   Verstärker Nr.48350-A, Beleuchtung: TL 19W/28"/T8, 453 door: TL 25W/28"/... 
USA  64 Jukebox - Rhapsody II 418SA 6CY7  Pick-Up (cartridge) Elac KST103, 160 selections, amplifier 39310A. 
USA  66 Stereo Amplifier 45107-A 7199  Unbestätigt im Rock Ola 441 verbaut. 
USA  69 Stereo Amplifier 44141-A unknown   
USA  46 Jukebox 1422 6J5GT  Jukebox für Schellackplatten 78 U/min. 20 Wahlmöglichkeiten bei 20 Platten. Es kann immer ... 
USA  42 Jukebox Commando   The Rock-ola Jukebox model Commando plays 20 selections for 78 rpm records. 

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