Early Talking Doll Recording Discovered

On May 11, 2011, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California recovered sound from an artifact that historians believe is the earliest surviving talking doll record. The artifact is a ring-shaped cylinder phonograph record made of solid metal, preserved by the National Park Service at Thomas Edison National Historical Park. Phonograph inventor Thomas Edison made the record during the fall or winter of 1888 in West Orange, New Jersey.

On the recording, an unidentified woman recites one verse of the nursery rhyme "Twinkle, twinkle, little star." The voice captured on the 123-year-old record had been unheard since Edison’s lifetime. The recording represents a significant milestone in the early history of recorded sound technology.

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The cylinder phonograph record. (Credit: Image courtesy of National Park Service)

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