#17 STAN WATKINS MAKES PEDRO, THE VODER TALK
I just discovered a Hackaday site that is all about the Voder – the Voice Operation Demonstrator.
Both this site and an AT&T site say it was “invented” by Homer Dudley. However, it was actually – and I quote my father, Stan Watkins – “being developed by a group in the [Bell] Labs headed by Homer Dudley. It had reached the stage of a first model and several people had tried to get it to produce intelligible speech but without very much success.”
When Stan was asked by John Mills, the Labs’ Director of Publications, to “take on the job of making it talk,” he agreed and spent the next two years (1936/37) achieving this. He then trained 24 telephone operators to manipulate the keys. Helen Harper (who, “during the Voder days was Helen Kohla”) was Stan’s favorite Voderette.
I’ll go into more detail in a future blog.