TEACHING THE VODER TO TALK

STAN WATKINS MAKES PEDRO, THE VODER TALK (also on  barbsblog)

I just discovered a Hackaday site that is all about the Voder – the Voice Operation Demonstrator.

Both this site and the AT&T site say it was “invented” by Homer Dudley. However, it was actually and I quote my father, Stan Watkins, “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.

 

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3 thoughts on “TEACHING THE VODER TO TALK

      1. I have been also been looking for more information about Helen and I didn’t even check this website : I found the same obituary but with a picture of her : https://northcountrynow.com/obituaries/helen-harper-92-formerly-norwood , It took me a few months to even find any information on her.

        I am also designing a Voder clone , and replicating the original Voder circuits with modern electronics components, or I’m doing it with a computer, emulating the Voder with software ( software already exists that simulates the entire Voder ) and than designing the hardware that plugs into a computer, that emulates the Voder keyboard, pedal and other switches.

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