Why Did Thomas Edison’s Talking Doll Fail?

Leia Smith | 01 - 03 - 2021
Why Did Thomas Edison’s Talking Doll Fail

 Did Thomas Edison’s Talking Doll Fail

The incandescent light bulb is not Thomas Alva Edison’s only invention. This remarkable scientist has nearly 1093 patents to his name. However, there is one invention of his that failed to make an impact commercially. It is the Thomas Edison Talking Doll. It is a phonographic doll that plays a recorded song- basically children’s nursery rhyme. Mass production of the talking dolls was approved by the Board of Directors of the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company. It is the first even talking doll that played a recorded voice. But, in spite of being a first-of-its-kind toy, the talking doll failed to impress commercially.

Why Was It Called the Scary Talking Doll?

The doll was 12 inches long and weighed pretty heavily. Apart from being highly expensive (It is around $200 in today’s money), the doll was claimed to be extremely creepy. Moreover, the song the doll produced was also criticized to be of low quality. These factors made the dolls a commercial failure among the public.

In 1890, Edison had sold around 500 of these dolls. But again, since the dolls were expensive and scary enough to bring nightmares, not many were fond of them. The lyrics were too faint and were hardly recognizable. It is said that Thomas Edison himself thought the talking dolls weren’t that great and hence, stopped making them.

How Many Patents Did Thomas Edison Own?
  • A. 1093
  • B. 1059
  • C. 1040
  • D. 1055

Edison initially thought that the best way to sell his phonograph technology was through dolls. He assumed that it would be a commercial success and people would use his invention at home. After stalling the production of these dolls, sources say that Edison himself called them “Little Monsters”.

Basically, people wanted a realistic toy with a moving mouth that could speak or sing clearly. But the doll ended up being creepy and unsettling to watch and listen. Forget the kids, adults themselves found them horrific.

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