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Alexander Graham Bell: Electrical Transmission of Articulate Speech, 1912

The Speaking Machine

Operating under the influence of his father, Aleck became involved in the business of elocution. While he and his brother were completing their studies, their father challenged them to develop their own improved version of the speaking machine. The earliest version of the speaking machine dates back to the eighteenth century, and in the 1820s a more up-to-date version was created by Charles Wheatstone. Their understanding of the human speech pattern, voicebox, and diaphragm aided Alexander Graham and his brother, Melly, in rising to their father's challenge, and the boys used textbooks to learn about anatomy and speech. In the end they did come up with a working speech machine, having gained invaluable knowledge of the organs of speech and the physiology of the human voice along the way. This knowledge would aid Alexander in his later development of the telephone.