Thomas Edison’s Talking Doll: 123-Year Old Recording
One of the many things Thomas Edison tried to make a success of–a talking doll business–failed, primarily because the dolls cost roughly the equivalent of half a month’s salary for the average person in 1888. But a recording made for one of the dolls–a short version of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”–has surfaced and is currently being streamed by the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.
The dolls, besides being extremely expensive, were also extremely creepy, and Edison admitted as much, saying “the voices of the little monsters were exceedingly unpleasant to hear.” Unfortunately, the crank mechanism used to start the song was too rough for the tiny parts inside, so after a short time they would begin to get worn down–another reason they failed to take off.
Take a listen to the recording; as creepy as it is, it’s still a remarkable feat for the times, and one of the lesser-known exploits of the famous inventor.