Mechanical Music Through the Ages

A collection of Mechanical Music and Arcade Machines – highlighting examples of the development in mechanical entertainment over time.

HMV Model 1A Autochanger 1928 – (UK)

HMV gramophone automatic model – Auto 1A. Introduced in September 1928 with an accoustic No. 5A soundbox, a re-entrant horn, an electric light (second model) and a 220 volt electrical turntable, this was  easily the most expensive gramophone marketed by HMV. The gramophone can play sequentially up to twenty records, (which can be a mixture of 10″ and 12″), or – to quote the HMV sales literature “repeat any one record as often as desired, (a feature that will appeal at once to dancers).” It is controlled directly from the front of the gramophone, or at a distance by means of the portable pedestal switch. The basic gramophone cost £125; with the doors it cost an extra £15 and in mahogany a further £15, so this example cost an astonishing £155 new. It is also extremely heavy. What makes this gramophone so interesting and astonishing is the record changeover mechanism. At the end of the record the soundbox lifts automatically and a round “finger” lifts the record clear of the turntable spindle. Because the record is turning at 78 r.p.m. its momentum sends it flying through the air into the ‘bin’ on the right hand side. One wonders who dreampt up the idea that one could actually remove fragile 78 records from a revolving turntable successfully in this manner! Even more surprising, it has never broken a single one of my records to date, though I have never had the confidence to try with a seriously rare record. Despite many attempts, I have been unable to capture a photograph of a record “in full horizontal flight.”  As the record flies through the air the next record from the pile on the left hand side is picked up by the triangular arm and deposited on the turntable, then the tone arm descends to play it.