Phonozoic Text Archive, Document 120

The Euphonia, or Speaking Automaton

Illustrated London News, Vol. 9, July 25, 1846, p. 59.

We were present, on Monday, at a private view of one of the most extraordinary pieces of mechanism ever exhibited; the powers of which are equal to all we have heard of the famous Automaton Chess-player, without the slightest suspicion of collusion of any kind.  We allude to the Speaking Automaton, the invention of Professor Faber, of Vienna, which has just arrived in England.

The Automaton is figured like a Turk, the size of life, and of kit-cat proportions, reclining against some pillows.  Every portion of the machine is, however, thrown open to the inspection of the company, and its framework is moved about the room.  Connected with it is a series of keys, or rather pedals; and, by pressing these down, in various combinations, the articulate sounds are produced.  As Mr. Faber, the director of the machine, is a German, of course the figure converses more fluently in that language than in our own; but it is equally capable of speaking French, English, Latin, Greek; and even whispering, laughing, and singing: all this depending upon the agility of the director in manipulating the keys.

The breath is felt coming from the lips; and, by compressing the nostrils, it speaks with a nasal accent immediately.

We tried it with the following words, suggesting them as Mr. Faber produced them on the keys:--"Ehrenbreitstein," "Jungfräulich," "Philadelphia," "très bien," "thwart," and "God bless Queen Victoria"--which last sentence it concluded with a hurrah, and then laughed loudly.

The chief organs of articulation are formed of caoutchouc, and a pair of bellows is substituted for the lungs.  We learned that the inventor was seven years in getting the figure to pronounce the vowel E correctly.  We repeat that this exhibition is most wonderful.