History - Factory
Aireon Logo History

Company History

Aireon, founded as Aircraft Accessories in 1937, produced electronic and radio equipment during the war. In December of 1944 they were renamed to Aireon Manufacturing Corporation and entered the jukebox market in 1946.

The first jukebox series from the Aireon Manufacturing Corp. at 1401 Fairfax Trafficway in Kansas City headed by Randolph C. Walker was designed and patented by Ernest F. Thomson in 1946.

Randolph C. Walker
Randolph C. Walker
The jukebox was officially named "Aireon 1200A Super De Luxe" but also nicknamed "Airliner" because of the size. The following "Aireon Fiesta" series: "Fiesta Standard", "Fiesta 1207A DeLuxe" ("Artisan"), and "Fiesta 1208A" ("Blond Bombshell"), was also design patented by Ernest F. Thomson, although some collectors believe the design to be classic Raymond Loewy, and the auxiliary speakers, the "Impresario", the "Melodeon", and the "Carilleon", were all designed by Jay B. Doblin.

All patents were assigned to the independent federal agency Reconstruction Finance Corp., which had become responsible for the production of "Aireon" coin-operated phonographs due to financial difficulties in the Aireon Manufacturing Corp. A following phonograph model of 1948 officially named "Aireon 1209A Coronet", and nicknamed "Canned Ham" by the public, was unfortunately not design patented, but it is possible that the design of the cabinet is part of a functional patent not yet located in patent office files.

After having major financial problems Aireon did close in early 1950.

Aireon Logo Factory
Aireon Manufacturing Corporation Factory Location:1401 Fairfax Trafficway, Kansas City, KS 66115

Packard Logo History

Company History

Packard Manufacturing Co. founded in 1932 and named after the Packard Avenue in Fort Wayne. The company was established just before America went to war in the old Marmon motor car manufacturing plant in Indianapolis, but the new Packard company was not active in the phonograph business until the latter half of the 1940s.

Another company, the Capehart Automatic Phonograph Corp., founded by Homer Earl Capehart early in 1928 had been active with a series of "Orchestrope" models with cabinets built by furniture manufacturers in Huntington in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The company, however, had moved into new factory facilities in Fort Wayne built by the wealthy lawyer and investor Charles M. Niezer, but had taken a net loss of about $370,000 around 1930/31.

The founder, Homer Earl Capehart, left the corporation (now often referred to as the Capehart-Farnsworth) late in 1932, and became connected to The Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. as general sales manager during the following seven successful years until 1939. After the war, when Homer Earl Capehart had become senator of Indiana (elected to the Senate late 1944 and served through 1962), the Packard company was revived and headed by the founder's son Thomas Charles Capehart.

Thomas C. Capehart
Thomas Charles Capehart (1924 - †1960)
The new jukebox series "Packard 7 Pla-Mor" (pronounced play more) and "Packard Manhattan" with matching speakers was produced until the spring of 1949. The "Packard 7 Pla-Mor" was design patented by Robert L. Ardner, and Russell E. Brandenburger Sr. was responsible for the design of the "Packard Manhattan" introduced in January, 1948. Edward E. Collison, who constructed most of the mechanical parts for "Packard" jukeboxes together with Paul U. Lannerd, had as early as 1941 assigned several nicely designed speakers and remote controls to Homer Earl Capehart, among them was the "Packard Butler" remote control unit. The design of the "Butler" is in fact also part of a complete functional patent

The Packard Manufacturing Co. was taken over by The Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. early in September, 1951.
Thomas C. Capehart died, together with his wife, in a plane crash on his 36th birthday on January 21, 1960.
Packard Logo Factory
Packard Manufacturing Corporation Factory Location: 115 N College Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46202

Filben Logo History

Company History

The first models with the name “Filben” (mechanism based on the original patent filed on the 15th July, 1937, by William Michael Filben) were made according to a license contract of September, 1938, with the Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corp., but unfortunately William Michael Filben (born 1893) died on the 1st May, 1940 age 47, without any company name officially registered (his patent was granted on the 3rd March, 1942). The rights under the license contract, however, were then vested in his widow, Berniece Filben, and in his three minor daughters (Patricia, Rosemary,and Dolora).

Later the widow assigned all rights to the newly constructed Filben Manufacturing Co. against 51% of the shares, and the production of automatic phonographs was carried out by the co-owner of the company, Leonard E.Baskfield (49% of the shares). The actual production of the mechanisms and cabinets took place at Batavia Metal Products Inc. (River Street in Batavia, Illinois) according to a contract stating that an initial amount of 10,000 such phonographs should be produced. The contract also provided for re-designing of the cabinet at the expense of Batavia Metal Products Inc., and the distribution of all Filben phonographs, including the "Mirro~cle Music" line with stow-a-way unit "FM-S2", was carried out by the U. S. Challenge Co. in Chicago.

The Challenge name is interesting, as it seems the company in question had produced wind mills and farm equipment for decades at the facilities (River Street) in Batavia, but the firm Batavia Metal Products Inc. was rather young and mainly produced shells for the army during the war. Also it is interesting, by the way, that the first Filben cabinets were named "Mirro~cle Music", an amalgamation of the two words mirror and miracle.

The unconventional model "FP-300 Maestro" was then produced during a short period in 1948 (introduced 19th-22nd January 1948 at the Morrison Hotel in Chicago) and the classic American Streamline Movement design, which in passing could remind one of a classic American locomotive of the 1940s, is unfortunately not known as a design patent. The design of the "Maestro'48" (the real, official name) could like a few others of the era be part of a complete functional patent, but it has never been found.

Today two versions are known: one with red plastics often referred to as the "FP-300" and another, rare one with green plastics referred to as the "F8-300". Both models can also today among jukebox collectors be referred to as "FP-305" or "FE-305".

There were several patent disputes with the Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corp., and finally the court decision in July/August, 1948, in favor of the plaintiff (the Rock-Ola Manufacturing Corp.) had to be followed by a complete production stop late in the autumn 1948.
Filben Logo Factory
Filben Manufacturing Corporation Factory Location:1139 S Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60605

history information credited to: Gert J. Almind (The history of coin-operated phonographs - unpublished manuscript, November 8, 2010)

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