Edison’s Phonograph Doll – “The greatest wonder of the age”, circa 1890

Edison’s “Phonograph Doll” was a toy made by the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company, originally invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. The 22-inch doll featured a removable phonograph that played various nursery rhymes. Although it had spent several years in experimentation and development, the Edison Talking Doll was a commercial failure, and stayed on the market for just a few weeks.

February of 1891:

One of Edison’s talking dolls has reached Winnipeg (Canada.) It is at Miss Maycock’s store and is inspected daily by a large number of people. It is a very good evidence of the uses to which the phonograph can be applied, but as a conversationalist or an elocutionist, the doll cannot be pronounced a success. The piece which the manufacturer has arranged for the lifeless talker to say is that familiar old nursery rhyme, ‘Jack and Jill.’ When the crank is applied to the mechanism and turned, the sound is emitted from a perforated plate on the breast of the doll. At first it is hard to distinguish any words, but by listening attentively and following the rhyme from the start, every word can be heard although not distinctly. As a novelty it is interesting.

Here is the Doll reciting “little Jack Horner”, I can see why it might not have done so well commercially:

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Check out some more pictures below: