Edison’s first application for his
phonograph was in a talking
doll. It was a commercial flop.
The longest-lived pull-string product line
was the Fisher-Price See ’n Say. A pointer
attached to the record’s shaft allowed kids
to select the sound track they wanted to hear.
Just point and pull to hear nursery rhymes,
alphabet, numbers, or animal sounds. “The
cow says mmmMMOOooooo!”
GGRP (bottom right)
Even after the 1970s, when all-electronic
talking toys were introduced, these mechanical players offered an inexpensive way to
reproduce natural voices and sound effects.
One toy from 1982, Mattel’s Teach And Learn
Computer (TLC), combined Victorian-era and
Space Age technologies. A microprocessor
was used to accurately drop the tone arm
onto a spinning record, landing at the exact
instant to play the desired single track out of
40 different lead-in grooves whirling by.
Mechanical sound players continue today
in novelty applications. Go to makeprojects.
com/v/29 to see some short videos of a
Japanese, all-cardboard record player toy
and thumbnail-activated talking strips.
Bob Knetzger is an inventor/designer with 30 years’
experience making all kinds of toys and other fun stuff.
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