On March 19th, 1927, the Victor
Talking Machine Company was ready to dazzle an eager buying
public, flush with money from the stock market boom, with
another revolutionary Victrola:
"Don't Get Up! - It Changes Its Own Records !"
With great fanfare, teaser advertisements, and the catchy
slogan with the subtle reverse sexism (it's the boyfriend
who wants to get up), the Victor marketers succeeded in
whipping up public interest for something new and
A Victrola that changes its own records! No more interrupted
smooching in front of the fireplace! 60 minutes of
uninterrupted musical enjoyment while you are doing
something else (eating dinner, for example).
The honor of the first disc record changer goes to the
famous 1906 Gabel's Automatic Entertainer (the first disc
jukebox): Gabel brought out a home unit in 1917- the
Gabelola - that would play 10 records without interruption.
But while this is the revered ancestor of all record
changers and disc jukeboxes, Victor's 1927 10-50 acoustic
Victrola is the first true mass-produced record changer
available to the buying public.
And buy they did ! From 1927 through 1928, over 10,000
10-50's found buyers eager for uninterrupted musical
At a price of $600, one could buy a nice mid-size Chevrolet
at that time. And the 5 foot x 5 foot cabinet in gorgeous
French Renaissance Walnut was guaranteed to dominate every
living room, and blast the windows out with its incredible
volume if necessary.
The changer itself is an example of reliable engineering of
a simple elegance: All motions are powered by a single
sliding rod, that lifts the tonearm, moves it sideways and
powers the lift ring.
Records are loaded on an overhanging magazine spindle,
picked up by the lift ring, and on reject cycle, the lift
ring will slide the record into a felt-covered drawer below
the motor board. If properly adjusted, this machine works
reliably and with no damage to the records. All the surfaces
the record slides on are felt covered and on my machine,
1000s of records played have not resulted in a single
breakage or chip.
The record changer, though the very first one, has
everything we look for in a mature changer:
- Capacity up to twelve 10" or 12" records.
- Only one record is on the platter at any time to keep
correct tracking angle.
- 10" or 12" record size has to be pre-selected, and cannot
be played intermixed.
- Changer shuts off automatically after the last record is
The Victor Automatic Orthophonic Victrola 10-50 is an
acoustic machine building on the orthophonic technology of
the famous Credenza. The horn of the machine seems to be the
largest that Victor ever built for acoustic home-use
machines, 35" x 17" horn opening, and a ca. 8 foot long horn
folded in itself.
To complement this range of exciting machines, Victor had
more offerings available in 1927/28 to tap even deeper into
the wallets of the affluent:
The Victor Electrola 10-51 - the same cabinet and horn as
the 10-50, but with a tube amplifier and electric horn
driver. - $1,050
The Victor Electrola 9-55 - record changer, electric record
play and a superb RCA radio in a gorgeous cabinet.- $1,550
The Victor Electrola 10-70 - $1,100 - a record changer and
electric amplifier playing the record through a 6" or 10"
electrodynamic cone speaker. By many considered to be the
best sounding Electrola of this period.
At the same time, ingenious after-market suppliers would
also fit the Victor 10-50 with a juke box mechanism and an
attractive glass window in the door for watching the changer
work. This would allow business owners to have people pay a
nickel to play the next of the 12 records in the stack. Of
course, then the owner had to go and remount the records in
the magazine. Advertisings claim that this profitable
machine would make up to $85 per week to the enterprising
owner. At a price of $600 plus the jukebox modifications, a
10-50 jukebox was by far the cheapest available on the
This first style changer lasted for little over one year,
and by 1928, Victor brought out their second changer - more
compact for smaller cabinets, cheaper to produce, and a 12"
and 10" record intermix changer. Albeit, this second changer
did not quite have the flawless reliability of the 10-50.
One word about the 10-50 changer today:
It is still a superb and reliable machine (and quite
imposing), and it has a mighty and impressive sound.
Unfortunately, the changer has the infamous 7 pot metal
parts - that by now have crumbled - and render many changers
Fortunately, reproduction parts are available, and there is
no reason why this grand Victrola should not work and
provide enjoyment as it did in 1927.
I am always interested to hear
about other machines.
If you are interested in a 10-50 operating manual, or the
10-51 operating manual (only this one has the diagrams of
the change cycle shown above), send me an e-mail. For
replacement parts or restoration help, I am happy to point
you in the right direction.
You can reach me at:
(replace "at" with @)
Also, do not forget to consult Robert Baumbach's book: "Look
for the Dog", which has excellent information on the history
of the Victrola and includes the complete service notes for
the 10-50 changer.
Again my great thanks to Chuck
Azzalina for his great help in creating these pages.
Pleases check out his
other web pages
with even more fascinating early audio and TV tube
electronics. One level above this page, you can find more
fascinating changers with video clips.
MORE VIDEOS and LINKS
Robert Baumbach's video
instructions how to load and play a Victor 10-51 Automatic
Also check out Robert Baumbach's great site of Old Record