doll

The picture on the shows the original phonograph removed from the doll’s body.

Using advanced imaging technology, scientists have recovered a 123-year-old recording made by Thomas Edison. The recording is believed to be the world’s first attempt at a talking doll and may mark the dawn of the American recording industry.

In the sound recording, a woman can be heard reciting a verse of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Historians believe Edison hired the woman to make the recording less than two years before he unsuccessfully put the first talking doll on the market.

“Based on the date of fall 1888, it is the oldest American made recording of a woman’s voice that we can listen to today,” said Patrick Feaster, a historian at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Feaster pored over historical documents and 19th-century newspaper reports to piece together the story behind the recording. Edison hoped to mass-produce the toys, but the era’s rudimentary technology meant that to make 100 dolls, Edison would have to get artists to recite the lullaby 100 times. The small piece of ringshaped tin bearing the woman’s voice never made it into a doll because wax records replaced metal ones by 1890. These fragile toys were a flop.

Yet, almost 80 years later, the recording showed up in 1967 in the archives of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange-More than four decades later, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used image analysis to create a digital model of the record’s surface.

Photo Credit:  Antique Phonograph, Fan and Photography

Via Times of India

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