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Though Robin and Joan Rolfs owned two rare talking dolls manufactured by Thomas Edison’s phonograph company in 1890, they did not dare play the wax cylinder records tucked inside each one.
The Rolfses, longtime collectors of Edison phonographs, knew that if they turned the cranks on the dolls’ backs, the steel phonograph needle might damage or destroy the grooves of the hollow, ring-shaped cylinder. And so for years, the dolls sat side by side inside a display cabinet, bearers of a message from the dawn of sound recording that nobody could hear.
In 1890, Edison’s dolls were a flop; production lasted only six weeks. Children found them difficult to operate and more scary than cuddly. The recordings inside, which featured snippets of nursery rhymes, wore out quickly.
Yet sound historians say the cylinders were the first entertainment records ever made, and the young girls hired to recite the rhymes were the world’s first recording artists.
Year after year, the Rolfses asked experts if there might be a safe way to play the recordings. Then a government laboratory developed a method to play fragile records without touching them.
originally posted by: Aleister
a reply to: Kapusta
I don't have the player needed to hear the recordings, and prefer not to download it after reading just the initial agreement. Have the records been put up on youtube as yet? Since these were the first entertainment records, and first recording 'stars', they are historically important and should be up on youtube.
originally posted by: Swills
a reply to: Kapusta
Great, laying in bed I click on the first recording and now I'm afraid to sleep. That govt lab should have just left those dolls in the cabinet where they belong.
I will not be listening to the others.