Hostess, the Rock-Ola Mystic Music SystemFrom: email@example.com Bruce Sterling
(((A handsomely produced outsized paperback with dozens of
chop-licking glossy photographs of extinct telephone
models and associated collectible ephemera.)))
"The 'multiphone' was created in 1939 by Kenneth C.
Shyvers and his wife, Lois. They were operators of 'juke'
boxes who found that 'multiphones' allowed a greater
number of songs to be played. Whereas juke boxes played
only 20 selections, the 'multiphone' could play up to 170
"'Multiphones' came to be installed in cafes and
taverns in each booth or along the bar. The system
required two leased telephone lines, one for the
'multiphones' and the other for the loudspeakers on the
wall where the music played. The wired music system
worked by inserting money, a nickel originally and later a
dime. A feminine voice asked for your song number, and
you responded. Soon you were listening to the music from
the loudspeakers on the wall, which was connected to a
central, record playing station.
"Eventually, juke boxes were remodelled to play 180
tunes on 45 rpm records. The 'multiphone' system could
not compete with them economically, and the system went
out of business in 1959."
(((Page 103 features two handsome illustrations of
multiphone technology. The first is a Shyvers Multiphone,
a hefty, towering gadget in stylish Art Deco cast
aluminum. It has a speaker-grille in the bottom, a coin-
slot for dimes, and what appears to be a rotating printed
menu of "new releases." The second device is a
"Phonette Melody Lane" from the Personal Music Corporation
of Newark, New Jersey. A modest device with a squat
rectangular grille, it declares in embossed lettering:
"INSERT 1 TO 6 NICKELS. EACH NICKEL PLAYS THE EQUIVALENT
OF TWO RECORDS. THIS MACHINE CAN BE HEARD IN YOUR
IMMEDIATE AREA ONLY.")))Source(s): American Jukebox, the Classic Years by Vincent Lynch, photography by Kaz Tsuruta, Chronicle Books, San
ISBN 0-87701-722-0, ISBN 0-87701-678-X paperback
(((A lavishly illustrated work of eerie beauty which
showcases an audacious twentieth-century mix of industrial
design, American popular culture and pure swaggering
kitsch. Surely "Bakelite Psychedelia" could find no
higher expression that the 1941 Rock-Ola Spectravox.)))
"Manufacturers continued to experiment with new ways to
deliver music to patrons. In 1939, AMI introduced the
Automatic Hostess telephone system and in 1941 Rock-Ola
invented the Mystic Music System. Both were jukeboxes in
every way except that there was no phonograph mechanism.
After depositing a coin, the patron spoke into a
microphone to an operator who would play the selection;
the music returned over the phone lines to the speaker.
The systems proved unsuccessful for AMI and Rock-Ola, but
the idea worked for the Shyver Multiphone Co., which
operated in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia Washington, from
1939 to 1959."
A cousin medium to the telephone jukebox is very much
alive today, though it is vastly more expensive, much
smaller in variety, is limited to one person, and offers
mere samples of songs.Source(s): WIRED magazine June 1996 issue
"MUSIC ACCESS. If you'd like to hear excerpts from
these discs, call 900-454-3277 (95 cents per minute).
Touch tone required. US only. Under 18? Get parent's
permission. When prompted: Enter access code (under the
name of the artist). Music controls: 3 = Fast forward, 4
= Louder, 5 = Softer, * = Exit music/bypass most prompts.
A charge of 95 cents per minute will appear on your phone
bill. An average call is about 2.5 minutes."