One of the most significant changes to have taken place in Australian society following the end of the Second World War was the drift towards American rather than British culture. As the American way of life was projected into Australia via popular culture, it rapidly altered the way in which we spent money, entertained ourselves, dressed and socialised.
The American cultural influence predominated through the music we listened to, and the movies and television we watched. Commercial radio stations were dominated by mostly American and British music, which satisfied the teenage hunger for rock’n'roll. If there was one item that symbolises the postwar rock’n'roll era, the Wurlitzer Jukebox would be it.
The Wurlitzer family had been making and selling musical instruments in Germany as far back as the 17th Century, including lutes, violins and pianos. Rudolph Wurlitzer emigrated to the US in 1853 and began selling musical instruments, initially imported from Germany before he started producing them in America. In 1896 the Wurlitzer company manufactured the first coin-operated electric piano. They then moved on to cinema and theatre organs which had immense impact within the motion picture and entertainment industries. Always willing to adopt new technologies, the Wurlitzers bought a patented jukebox mechanism in 1933 and developed the first jukebox. By the late 1930s, Wurlitzer was producing over 45,000 jukeboxes a year.