The Voder (Voice Operation DEmonstratoR), invented by Homer Dudley in 1937, was a manually operated speech synthesizer described in US Patent 2121142. Initiated by Bell Telephone, the Voder marked the first time that electronic speech synthesis was attempted by breaking up human speech into its acoustic components, and then reproducing the sound patterns electronically. Unveiled and demonstrated at 1939 New York World Fair, the Voder was operated by twenty trained assistants known as “the girls.” The machine was handled much like a musical instrument such as a piano or an organ, and they managed to successfully produce human speech during the demos. The quality of speech produced by the Voder was less than ideal. However, it was a key contributor to the advancement of telecommunications.
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