Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 047
"The Talking Doll," New York Times, February 17, 1889.
While the phonograph has been affording all sorts of amusement for the big folks a Boston gentleman has been adapting it to the entertainment of the little people.
By its aid there has been produced a talking doll, whose vocabulary includes many more words than the squeaky "mamma," which has thrown so many children into ecstasies of delight.
Mother Goose's Melodies and other standard poems, such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," are recited in the very best style by these remarkable elocutionists. The dolls are very obliging, too, and will repeat their performances as often as the audience signifies its desire for a repetition by winding them up.
The inventor is a Bostonian of means, a great traveler, and quite an inventive genius, and a member of one of Boston's very oldest families. He has been for some years engaged in perfecting the invention. An effort was made to place the dolls on the market in time for the holiday season, but the preparations were not completed, and they were withheld until the opening of the Spring trade. Home and foreign patents have been secured, and the dolls will be sold in all the leading shops of New York and Paris, and all cities of the United States and Europe.
The dolls are about 1 foot in height. The phonographic apparatus, occupying the body of the doll, has a space perhaps 2 to 3 inches in diameter in which to operate. The dolls are brought from Europe, but the talking machinery is manufactured and inserted here. As each doll reaches the proper age it is turned over to a governess specially employed to train its phonographic ideas how to shoot. This lady gives the most careful attention to the education of the dolls. She recognizes the value of individual training, and imparts separate instructions to every doll. Knowing the great imitative power of little folks, she is particular to modulate her voice to just the pitch which she wishes theirs to assume. The doll pupils are required to repeat her words until every accent and inflection is satisfactory. The dolls have such wonderful memories that not only do they repeat their lessons with accuracy, but they even "hold the voice."
This faculty of theirs compelled the employment of lady instructors. The deep, gruff voice of a man reciting "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" had rather a gruesome effect when issuing from the lips of a rosy-cheeked little dollie. Their voices are strong and their articulation so clear that their conversation can be heard up one flight of stairs with distinctness--somewhat more perfectly, in fact, than when close by, as then there is a little r-r-r-r of the machinery which is not noticed at a distance.