One of Edison's first attempts to market the phonograph was as a simple novelty to amuse children. Charles Bachelor, an Edison employee, with two daughters of his own, suggested this idea. A tiny wax cylinder phonograph inside his "talking doll" played a childlike voice reciting nursery rhymes - or at least it was supposed to. Over 3,000 of the toys were manufactured at the Edison Phonograph Works. But the fragile mechanisms broke too easily for commercial success, and Edison ultimately shut down the operation, later admitting that "the voices of the little monsters were exceedingly unpleasant to hear." The Edison Talking Dolls were made in 1889-90 in limited quantity for the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company, New York. Edison's talking doll featured a bisque head imported from Germany. Wooden hands and feet were attached to a heavy metal body that held the phonograph mechanism. By turning a crank in the doll's back, a child could make the doll talk.


  • Title: Edison Talking Doll
  • Contributor: Thomas Edison National Historical Park, National Park Service
  • Measurements: 24"
  • Circa: 1889
  • Catalog Number: EDIS 86

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