Edison Talking Doll - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions -
Answers (with references) by Bill Klinger
  • Why is the Edison Talking Doll historically significant?
  • What makes the Edison Talking Doll Recordings historically and culturally important?
  • Who invented the Talking Doll Phonograph? Who further developed the Talking Doll Phonograph?
  • When were prototype mechanisms made?
  • What types of doll records were developed, and when?
  • When were "sample" and "model" mechanisms and Talking Dolls delivered?
  • Who decided that the performance of the Talking Doll Phonograph was acceptable, and therefore approved the mass-production of Edison Talking Dolls?
  • Who manufactured the Edison Talking Doll Phonograph?
  • Where was the phonograph manufactured?
  • Who made the dolls?
  • Where were the dolls made?
  • Who assembled the dolls and phonographs together?
  • Who packaged and shipped the dolls?
  • How long was the Edison Talking Doll in production?
  • Why did production end so soon?
  • How many Edison Talking Dolls were completed?
  • How was the Edison Talking Doll marketed?
  • Was it marketed to children or to adults?
  • Where or how did people buy the dolls?
  • Were the dolls sold only in high-end stores?
  • When did sales begin?
  • When did sales end?
  • Why wasn't the Edison Talking Doll a big seller?
  • What was the retail price of the Edison Talking Doll?
  • What was the wholesale price?
  • What would the equivalent prices be, in today's dollar?
  • How much did it cost to make the phonograph and assemble it in the doll?
  • How much did the doll alone cost? (without phonograph)
  • What percent profit was guaranteed to the Edison Phonograph Works for manufacturing Talking Dolls?
  • What percent royalty was allocated to Thomas Edison, personally?
  • When were the Edison Talking Doll Records made?
  • Who performed for the recordings?
  • What titles were offered?
  • What was the typical duration of the doll recordings?
  • Would the records have sounded better in 1890 than what we hear today?
  • What did people say about the Edison Talking Doll's sound, back in 1890?
  • How does the Edison Talking Doll work?
  • How is the phonograph mounted in the doll?
  • Could the doll owner change the record?
  • How fragile was the Talking Doll?
  • What parts broke most often?
  • How did the wax record hold up, with repeated plays?
  • Why didn't Edison fix the problems and try again with an improved design?
  • If the doll broke, where or how did the owner get it fixed?
  • What was the business relationship among Thomas Edison, W. W. Jacques, and the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company (EPTMCo)?
  • Who founded EPTMCo?
  • EPTMCo had ties to three cities: Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; and New York, New York. How?
  • Who funded EPTMCo?

Bill Klinger is a consulting engineer who researches the history and technology of sound recording in the cylinder format. He is a founding member of the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.
This FAQ was published on April 13, 2015.

Last updated: June 29, 2017

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