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MMD > Archives > February 2000 > 2000.02.21 > 03Prev  Next

Mechanical Speech Machines in Automatons
By Michael Start

Dear MMD,  Mike Knudsen's posting mentions that it is a shame no
grandson of one of the great automata makers incorporated a talking
machine in their automata.

Earlier this month a beautiful Jumeau headed automaton by Henri Vichi
sold at auction here in England.  The figure was a girl seated upon
a stool (Le Merveilleux), within the stool was a miniature phonograph
mechanism with 3/4-inch cylinder and Vichy and Lioret paper label.

Fortunately, it was in very original condition; unfortunately, because
of this it was not working (full of spider webs, etc.) and what the
cylinder played is a mystery, though music rather than speech is more

The great automata makers did try and move with the times, incorpo-
rating electricity when it became available.  And historically the
mechanical production of speech has been a goal since antiquity.  The
possibilities of the phonograph must have tempted makers to use them
for speech.

I am sure that there are automata using this method to produce speech
and I would love to know if anyone knows more about them.


Michael Start

(Message sent Mon 21 Feb 2000, 13:31:48 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Automatons, Machines, Mechanical, Speech

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