It all began in 1909 when they started to make automatic player pianos in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their first products were nickelodeon pianos and they handled a separate division of the placement of the nickelodeons in public facilities. The company was able to make a mechanism that allows music rolls to be selected, and this technology was adapted by the jukebox. First to be produced was in 1927, the first jukebox was named National Automatic Selective Phonograph. The cabinets were made of wood just like any other jukebox that came in existence subsequently. It could play both sides of 10 records, making it up to a total of 20 selections. The use of the mechanism lasted for the next 30 years. The only modification is that it was able to play an extended amount of sides that could play. In 1932 they were able to come up with the first ever remote control wall boxes; this was the first “Rowe Ami Jukebox remote.” They were miniature in size and used mainly in booths of diners. After the devastating Second World War, the company name was changed to Automatic Musical Instrument Company or simply AMI. AMI in 1962 was bought by Automatic Canteen Company. It now has merged with its subsidiary company ROWE AC services, a company that manufactures coin operated machines. Up to this day, ROWE international continues to manufacture jukeboxes.
AMI’s first product was the “National Nickelodeon”. It is a coin operated player piano that has no keyboard. During the 1930’s, it has a model named Top Flight which is a classic example of Art Deco styling. Gaudy embellishments supplemented its sleek modern lines. The original mechanism of the jukebox was the one being utilized and it allows a selection of 20 sides. In the year 1939 up to 1942, they made a model named the Singing Towers. It could be considered as the most uncommon looking jukebox they had ever made. The design was made of molded glass, stone effect and a top light that resembles the skyscrapers of the Big Apple or New York. This jukebox, the Singing Towers have added a new mechanism which changes the color of the lights as it plays its beautiful songs. Sad to say, this model never came into commercial success as it was plagued with mechanical problems. 1946 came and they created a model named Model A. ‘The Mother of Plastic was the name received cordially by the people. The juke box was large and colorful. It was generously decorated with things such as opalescent plastics and brightly colored gems. This time, it was a great success as Model A was sold in great numbers. Model H came to existence in the year 1957. It had a lot of new mechanism and used ‘automobile styling’. It resembled a car because it sported a wraparound clear glass and front bumpers made with chrome. In the year 1961 and 1962, they featured a model that is inspired by science fiction as it released its model named ‘Continentals’. It is covered on top with a glass in a dome shape and curved selection holders. All these predecessors are the mother products of what we now enjoy among the great selection of Rowe Ami Jukebox we have today.
Now, Rowe-AMI is maintaining a museum of its very own products in their offices in Grand Rapids. Unfortunately the museum is not open to the general public.