Edison's Demon Dolls

Season 7
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doll in front of Christmas tree

In 1890, Americans were delighted when they heard the news that Thomas Edison was using his phonograph technology to give voice to porcelain dolls. But their delight soon turned to horror. In this episode of Sidedoor, we’ll hear a short story that imagines what happens when two little girls receive one of Edison’s talking dolls as a holiday gift. And we’ll speak with an expert from the National Museum of American history to learn what went wrong with Edison’s invention.



  • Bess Winter, author of Machines of Another Era
  • Carlene Stephens, curator at the National Museum of American History


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