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As early as the 1770s, inventors have been constructing elaborate contraptions to mimic the sound of the human voice. Early machines attempted to mechanically reproduce the speech apparatus using an air source such as an organ or bellows, and implemented false vocal chords and mechanical tongues. Wolfgang von Kempelen, also famous for inventing the Turk, crafted a speaking machine in the 1780s which was reputedly able to utter understandable words and short sentences. And a device later constructed by Joseph Faber (pictured) was able to synthesize singing. It’s nifty to see the ingenuity of these early innovators.

Link: Wolfgang von Kempelen’s speaking machine and its successors