Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" Like Victorian Baby Talk: Edison's Monstrous Talking Doll, circa 1890

Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like Victorian baby talk. Especially when it sounds like this.

More, from the Go Report website:
While we may never know what the ‘must have’ Christmas gift was in 1890, we do know that it most assuredly wasn’t Thomas Edison’s talking doll.

Using miniature phonographs embedded inside, these “talking” baby dolls were toy manufacturers’ first attempt at using sound technology in toys. They marked a collaboration between Edison and William Jacques and Lowell Briggs, who worked to miniaturize the phonograph starting in 1878.

Unfortunately, production delays, poor recording technology, high production costs, and damages during distribution all combined to create toys that were a complete disaster, terrifying children and costing their parents nearly a month’s pay.

Edison would later refer to the dolls as his “little monsters.”
To hear this wee monstrous baby reciting, we are led to believe, "Little Jack Horner," click here. To read the entire story from which the above excerpt is drawn, click here. Sound from Archive.org.

Thanks to my lovely friend Matt Murphy for this charming holiday tale about a rare Edison commercial misfire.


acep hale said...

The book "Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life" by Gaby Wood has a great chapter on these dolls.

Anonymous said...

Really terrific...the voice sounds like a psycophone...you could make an horror movie about Edison and his doll ;-)