Thursday, August 25, 2011

Recreation of Kempelen's speaking machine (1791)

Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734 –1804) is known mainly as the man who created famous The Turk Automaton Chess Player. Kempelen was a gifted inventor who designed steam-engines, water-pumps, a pontoon bridge, a steam turbine for mills, a typewriter for the blind, and various works of architecture. He also created a number of speaking machines, one of which has been recreated and is demonstrated in the video presented here.

From the YouTube description:

The 'speaking machine' of Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804) was the first fully functional speech synthesis ever. This is a short presentation of the replica built 2007-09 at the department of Phonetics of Saarland University, Saarbrücken (Germany) by Fabian Brackhane, Dominik Bauer with assistance by the Orgelbaumanufaktur Hugo Mayer.

As with many speaking machines and talking dolls, I believe this one is saying "Mama" and "Papa".

You can learn more about Wolfgang von Kempelen in the books The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine and also the fascinating Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life.

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