In 1928 a company had been formed as a subsidiary of Western Electric to handle the record and talkie end of the business. It was called Electrical Research Products and was familiarly known as ERPI. Stan Watkins’ work for ERPI meant commuting from NY to Hollywood teaching the sound men at Hollywood studios how to use the Western Electric equipment.
It hasn’t stopped; it is still going ahead, but slowly. And we still need funding. So if anyone knows of someone who would like to support a film that tells the story of my father, Stan Watkins, an Englishman who spent his working life in the United States and was instrumental in the development of Talking Pictures, please let us know. Of course if everyone reading this blog sent in $10, or even $5, we would be well funded. Very easy to do; just go to the link: https://www.gofundme.com/n3rpk-stanley-watkins-documentary And do view the updates.
The project doesn’t end with the Vitaphone system that heralded Sound Movies; After managing the installation of Western Electric equipment in Hollywood and European studios, Stan went on to teach a Bell Labs synthesizer called The Voder to talk – and don’t you think the Vodaphone takes its name from that original machine? It was the prize exhibit in the AT&T building at the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York, and simultaneously in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Exposition.
This multi-talented gentleman worked with hearing aids, perfected electrical recording, explored Visible Speech, was an artist, composer of songs, and musician in his spare time, and continued throughout his life to be involved in all sorts of projects, including in retirement as a science consultant for the Festival of Britain (1951).
The current President of the Bell Labs, where Stan worked from 1911-1948, says the story of this Renaissance man should be told. And that’s what we’re aiming to do. Will you help us?