First International Workshop on the History of Speech Communication Research (HSCR 2015)

Dresden, Germany
September 4-5, 2015

Voices for Toys – First Commercial Spin-offs in Speech Synthesis

Rüdiger Hoffmann

Technische Universität Dresden, Institut für Akustik und Sprachkommunikation

When the collection of phonetic instruments of the Phonetic Institute of the Hamburg University came to the HAPS Dresden in 2005, it included also some small mechanic voices, which can produce single sounds as well as few simple words. These voices are well-known in the phonetic literature as an early attempt to provide hard-hearing people with automatic training tools, following a proposal of the otologist Johannes Kessel in 1899. On the other hand, the phonetic literature never took any notice from the real origin of these interesting pieces. Therefore the author started an investigation some years ago, which guided him not only to the interesting field of mechanical voices in the manufacturing of toys and dolls, but moreover back to the roots of mechanical speech synthesis at the end of the 18th century. This paper gives a rough overview about the recent state of this in- vestigation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hoffmann, Rüdiger (2015): "Voices for toys – first commercial spin-offs in speech synthesis", In HSCR-2015, 60-70.