In 1890, Thomas Edison invented and manufactured a number of talking dolls. Each of the dolls had a little steel and wax phonograph inside them that would play the record of a young girl reciting a nursery rhyme. Until recently, the phonographs were too fragile to play without destroying the whole thing, but a government laboratory found a way to play the recordings without touching them.
The recordings are considered the first entertainment records ever made which makes the little girls who recorded the poems the world’s first recording artists.
Edison’s dolls were a commercial failure because children had trouble operating them and they found the dolls super creepy, which is understandable. The New York Times posted this original recording of an unknown girl reciting “Now I lay Me Down To Sleep” from one of the dolls:
After listening to that you might understand why the dolls never caught on. They sound like otherworldly nightmares. There are a few lost recordings available from the original dolls and I have them all below. You might notice that while Edison was a brilliant inventor and genius, he still had a lot to learn when it came to making something children would want to play with.
Bah Bah Blacksheep
Hickory Dickory Dock
Jack Be Nimble Jack Be Quick
It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
Hey Diddle Diddle