Thomas Edison’s Talking Doll

We can thank the inventor (person who creates new things) Thomas Edison for many inventions, including movie cameras, phonographs (early record players), light bulbs, and so many others.

In his lifetime, he had near 1,100 patents (government licenses for an idea or invention)! He was also a businessman and was able to turn some of his inventions into commercial (business; financial) successes.

But not everything Edison invented was a success.

In 1890, he invented a talking doll (see photo). The doll had a mini (very small) phonograph inside of it. Edison had hoped that the talking doll would help him sell more phonographs.

But the doll was a flop (failure).

First, the doll itself wasn’t very lifelike (looking like a real person) compared to other dolls sold at that time.

Second, and more importantly, the doll’s “voice” sounded very . . . well, listen for yourself. (Warning: If you don’t want to have nightmares (bad dreams), you might not want to listen to this!)

“Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” (a bedtime prayer (message to God))
“Little Jack Horner” (a nursery rhyme (children’s poem))

The doll’s voice was a recording of a woman imitating (trying to sound like) the voice of a little girl. Edison himself thought the recordings were very unpleasant to listen to and everyone else agreed. The doll voice was creepy (frightening), perhaps something you would hear in a horror (intended to be frightening) movie.

The final flaw (problem) was the price: it cost about $200 in today’s dollars.

Edison stopped making dolls after only a month. His experience just reminds us that even very talented people have failures.

But it’s just a good thing for us that he didn’t stop inventing after this setback (failure after having some success) or we might be writing this in the dark!

~ Jeff

Photo Credit: National Park Service
This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thomas Edison’s Talking Doll

  1. emiliano says:

    Such an horrible noise does not give you any other thing that nightmares as you said above even I don´t understand anything so it was logic that the doll have to be a flog?. Just a new word, thank you Jeff.

    Absolutely, I don´t like dolls or animals being toys that could speak, they fright me a little so never I have one or give them like a present to my children or other
    friend´s babys, no ever.
    Some how they seems like sinister things to me the same as having a clown sitting
    on the armchair staring with that horrible grin, not thank you. I do not like clowns
    as toys.

    That´s all my friends, only a new request,
    Tania dear, please tell us something.


  2. Peter says:

    If anything , the high pitch eerie human voice-esque noise reminds me ,for one ,of Alfred Hitchcock movies.

    No wonder, the venture never got off the ground, took off ,if u will.

    The real question is :
    How come they didn’t stop the endeavour right at the trial-run stage.
    I mean ,What were they thinking ?
    How ,on earth ,did they expect parents expose their children to such a piercing ,soul sucking voice.
    Not every business enterprise meets with success.
    U know ,
    Edison has dozens of brain children :))
    Light bulbs are one of them. Well ,like men kind , his brain children :)))evolved over time.
    But , it is that the idea that counts.
    Who is to say ,if it was not for Edison ‘s tenacity and perseverance ,we would still using candles as the only source for the night light
    Some people on the evolution tree did influence the path of mankind some in a good and some in a bad way.

    Well, some wars were not necessary a bad thing. In fact ,I dare say , over the history ,most wars were a boon to booming and development.
    They were necessary evil,one might say.

    I heard Edison came up with 99 major inventions in his time.
    Some very ingenious ,I must say

    May Edison rest in piece

    U know ,some believe, late Steve jobs was in fact this century Edison. He himself like Edison had quite impressive inventions under his belt.
    In fact , i m using one of them.
    I m corresponding with u though an iPhone set as we speak.
    And interestingly enough ,Steve jobs like Edison was a dropout.

    Spooky , isn’t it !??



Comments are closed.