Visble Talking Machine or better known as Oral Talking
Machine was a pet project of the Bell Labs during
the 1930’s and 1940’s.

It was supposed to help the deaf speak better.
Not surprisingly, the project failed to capture
the marketplace.

How did it work?

It was sort of like a piano with feet pressed
on the pedals on the floor. For each word,
the proper pedal would be pushed, in concert
with the keyboards. The deaf person, listening
to these sounds, would respond with appropriate

The Bell Labs enlisted the services of a
deaf chemical engineer to help with that
speech contraption. It had nothing to do
with his knowledge of chemical engineering but
of him being available at Bell Labs facilities.