The Seeburg 3W-1 wallbox is the most recognized item of jukebox related Americana, only sharing part of that honor with the Wurltizer Model 1015 Bubbler. This recognition factor is a direct result of the sheer number of 3W-1's that were placed on location. During the late 1940's and well into the early 1960's, the 3W-1 graced the counter's, booths, and walls of many of the restaurants, diners and bars across America. The popularity of the 3W-1 was driven by Seeburg's unique approach of installing "receivers" in their standard model jukeboxes. Receivers are required for the wallbox to communicate with the jukebox. Most other manufacturers offered receivers as an option. Interestingly, most non-jukebox collectors actually believe this "wallbox" is a jukebox ... I have heard dozens of time ... "what is that 'small jukebox' we used to see in diners?". You can guess their confusion, they put in money, made selections and heard a tune ... so it must be a jukebox.
Why 3W-1? The 3W stands for three wire. "The 3W-1 Wall-O-Matic operates at 25 volts, AC 60 Cycles. The power is supplied by the Selections Receiver or an auxiliary power supply in the Select-O-Matic through a 3 wire cable. Two of the three wires carry power to the lights and motor of the Wall-O-Matic. The other wire and one of the power circuit wires comprise a selection circuit to control the operation of the Selection Receiver".
The 3W-1 was introduced to distributors on December 10th, 1948 in Chicago, Illinois along with the radical jukebox ... the M100A, the first 100 Selection Jukebox ... all others manufactured at the time were 24 or 40 selection. This first 3W-1 was not what most of us today recognize ... it sported the classic beige paint that typified most of Seeburg's wallboxes of the 1940's with the coin selector plated in nickel (left). However, this baby weighed in at 20 1/4 pounds (24 1/2 Lbs Packed) and was 12 3/4" high, 12 1/4" wide and 5 7/8" deep. Seeburg touted it as "An amazing remote selection system. 100 selections - visible 20 at a time. Single coin chute for nickels, dimes, quarters. 6 individual plays for a quarter, easy selection". For those few collectors who have a beige painted 3W-1, you have a very early model.
The chrome model was introduced in 1950 with the Model M100B Jukebox. The chrome finish remained throughout its production life.
In 1955, the 3W-1D was introduced to support the dual pricing model 100J jukebox. "The Wall-O-Matic '100' Type 3W1-D is the same in general appearance and size as the Type 3W1. The operation is the same except that the 3W1-D is arranged for three plays for a 25-cent coin and one play for either a dime or two nickels. The difference between the 3W1-D and the 3W1 is in the information on the coin instruction window and the name plate below the program leaves, in the slug rejector nickel coin switch and the connections to the coin switches and coin assembly."
Seeburg continued to produce the 3W-1 (and "D") Wall-O-Matic from 1949-1958. It supported the Seeburg jukebox models M100A, M100B, M100C, 100W, HF-100G, HF-100R, 100J, 101, and the L-100. Based on serial number research, there about 221,000 3-W1's produced. The known serial number range for this model, based on 304 data points,is from 3,414 to 220,820. The assumption is that the first number is 000001. In spite of the ending production over 40 years ago, in 1958, the wallbox lasted as long as the jukeboxes ... these wallboxes are still used today.
Wallboxes (technically referred to as remote selectors) were advertised and promoted as providing convenience and access to consumers, especially in restaurants & diners with booths, or multiple rooms. This in theory would increase the play of the jukebox, which it did. The real reason for their popularity with operators was not so much as the increase in the jukebox play, as the increase of nickels in the coin box. Their "dirty little secret" was that virtually all jukeboxes of the time could only record a single credit for a given song and played the songs in order of their appearance on the selector mechanism. So with a dozen or more wallboxes spread throughout an establishment, and the publics tendency to only select the "top 10 tunes", it meant that many people would be selecting the same song, and all these nickels would accumulate until the song was played and the credit selector reset. The public didn't know the difference, and after all they did get to hear their song.
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