Speech synthesis in the year 1939

Featured at the 1939 World’s Fair, the Voder (Voice Operating DEmonstratoR) from Bell Laboratories created vocal sounds via dedicated noise and tone generating vacuum tubes. These sounds were formed into words by the hand of a specially trained operator seated at the Voder’s interface.

In aninterview with CMJ, electronic music pioneer Wendy Carlos explains in detail –

Homer Dudley also invented the VODER (Voice Operating DEmonstratoR), an electronic speaking instrument, which was unveiled (and demonstrated hourly) at the New York World’s Fair 1939-40. Inside the tall rack of sturdy electronic gear was a pitch controlled reedy oscillator, a white-noise source, and ten bandpass resonant filters. For a Voder to “speak” a talented, diligently trained operator “performed” at a special console connected to the rack, using touch-sensitive keys and a foot-pedal. These controlled the electronic generating components. The results, while far from perfect (it was damn difficult to operate!), were still entertaining and instructive of the principles involved.

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Read more about the Voder (and other old-school awesomness) @ Tales of Future Past.

[via Create Digital Music]

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