8th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology

Geneva, Switzerland
September 1-4, 2003


A Reconstruction of Farkas Kempelen's Speaking Machine

P. Nikleczy, G. Olaszy

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary

The first "speaking machine" of the world was created by the Hungarian polyhistor Farkas Kempelen. He can also be referred to as the first phonetician in the world. He went on improving his speaking machine for twenty-two years, and described the final version in a book published in 1791 in Vienna. The reconstruction was made based on this book. What we wanted to make was not just an exhibition piece but a machine that actually worked. Thus we can go back more than 200 years and study the working of one of the most precious instruments of the Baroque period. We can try out the ways of producing sounds that Kempelen wrote so many pages about in his book. The acoustic patterns of the machine's speech can be studied by today's sophisticated signal processing methods and prove or disprove Kempelen's claims by measurement data. Besides these we took it to be an important task in terms of the history of science to contribute to our knowledge of the beginnings of phonetic research.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Nikleczy, P. / Olaszy, G. (2003): "A reconstruction of farkas kempelen's speaking machine", In EUROSPEECH-2003, 2453-2456.