Episode 23: Before Chatty Cathy, Edison Gave Us the Ultimate Creepy Doll

Before Chatty Cathy made us flinch, the Wizard of Menlo Park not only perfected the lightbulb, he also gave us a creepy humanoid with a nightmarish shrill. Have you ever heard of Thomas Edison’s talking dolls?



For this episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Paul Israel, the director and general editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University and Patrick Feaster, a three-time Grammy nominee and specialist in the history, culture, and preservation of early sound media, including Edison’s recordings.


Origins of Sound Recording: Edison’s Path to the Phonograph; Feaster, Patrick; Thomas Edison National Historic Park; Retrieved September 2018.

Edison Talking Doll Recordings, 1888-1890; National Park Service; Retrieved September 2018.

Edison: A Life of Invention; Israel, Paul; John Wiley & Sons; February 11, 2000.

Thomas Edison’s Greatest Inventions; Bellis, Mary; ThoughtCo.; September 24, 2018.

Thomas Edison’s Creepiest Invention: The Talking Doll; Hartzman, Mark; Weird Historian; May 10, 2017.

Listen to the creepy voices of Thomas Edison’s talking dolls; Starr, Michelle; C/NET; May 5, 2015.

Hear Edison Talking Doll Sound Recordings; Thomas Edison National Historic Park; Retrieved September 2018.