Euphonia (device)

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The Euphonia (The London Journal, 1870)

The euphonia was a talking machine created in the early to mid-nineteenth century by the Austrian inventor Joseph Faber and exhibited in 1845 in Philadelphia and in 1846 in London. An earlier version of the invention had been destroyed in 1844 by Faber.[1]

A mechanical device that he had reportedly spent over twenty-five years developing, Faber's "Fabulous Talking Machine", which would later be renamed the "euphonia", was constructed of several different mechanisms and instruments: a piano, a bellows, and a mechanical replica of the human throat and vocal organs. By pressing the keys on the keyboard, a human operator produced sounds that inflated the bellows, caused the mechanical mouth to open, the mechanical tongue to be lifted, and the mechanical jaws to move. Able to produce sentences in English, French, and German, the euphonia was reported by The London Journal to speak all three with a German accent, a fact attributed to the native language (German) of the inventor. Exhibited with a female mask covering the mechanical mouth, tongue, and jaw and at times with a dress hanging below the mask, the euphonia would perform for audiences, pretending to respond to or mimic the words of the keyboard operator. In describing the euphonia, the 19th century American scientist Joseph Henry explained "that sixteen levers or keys 'like those of a piano' projected sixteen elementary sounds by which 'every word in all European languages can be distinctly produced.' A seventeenth key opened and closed the equivalent of the glottis, an aperture between the vocal cords. 'The plan of the machine is the same as that of the human organs of speech, the several parts being worked by strings and levers instead of tendons and muscles.'[2]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ "Notes and Notices". Mechanics Magazine. July 27, 1844. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  2. ^ Millikan, Frank Rives. "Joseph Henry and the Telephone" (PDF). Smithsonian Institution Archives.